International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held each year on August 31 to raise awareness about overdose, and reduce the stigma associated with substance use.
It is also an important day to recognize the loss and grief felt by so many people around the world who have lost loved ones to overdose.
This opportunity to build awareness and provide public education is more important than ever – recent trends are alarming. According to the latest report from the BC Coroner’s Service, within Interior Health during the first seven months of 2020 alone there have been 143 overdose deaths. This is a drastic increase over 2019, when there were 139 deaths total in IH for the whole year.
“There is no doubt that communities across Interior Health have been greatly affected by the current overdose public health emergency. International Overdose Awareness Day gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about overdose and reduce stigma associated with substance use and drug-related death,” says Interior Health Substance Use Practice Lead Jessica Mensinger. “As the impacts of overdose continue to be felt by individuals, families and communities across the region, we want to do everything we can to come together to make a difference. International Overdose Awareness day is an opportunity to do that on a broad scale.”
Within Interior Health this important day is being recognized in many different ways.
In Kamloops, RIH will be lighting its pedestrian walkway again this year, and the advocacy group Addiction Matters Kamloops will be working alongside a community group to fund a meal for people who are homeless and marginally housed, while also promoting the Words Matter pledge. Visit www.addictionmatters.ca for information about the Photo Voice project and the Words Matter pledge.
In Kelowna, people visiting the Community Health and Services Centre on Doyle and Ellis will have the opportunity to check out the Photo Voice Project, a gallery-style collection of photos by individuals and families with lived experience of substance use, helping others see the world through their eyes.
Activities planned in other parts of the region include the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Purple Ribbon Campaign, and an awareness campaign by Moms Stop the Harm. Local Community Action Teams are marking the day by providing Naloxone training and distributing wellness kits.
To learn more about the overdose public health emergency, including prevention tips, visit the Overdose Emergency Information webpage.