August: International Drug Overdose Awareness Day

July 28, 2022


August 31st, 2022, commemorates International Drug overdose awareness day. Drug overdose is a raging public health crisis throughout the globe and this campaign aims to honor those who have died due to overdose and reconcile the grief of the families they left behind through discussions on drug prevention and policy[1]


According to the CDC, over 900,000 people have died from a drug overdose since 1999 and in 2020; there have been approximately 90,000 drug overdose deaths within the United States. [2] The data in drug overdose deaths have also revealed disparities between different population groups by race, ethnicity and other factors. Between 2019 and 2020, it was reported that there was a 44% increase in drug overdose rates in Black people and a 39% increase for American Indian and Alaska Native people[3]. Research also shows that the increased disparities in overdose death rates are typically attributed to lack of substance treatment in these population groups and income inequality. In response to these alarming rates, it has been said that access to treatment for those who are struggling with substance misuse is essential to recovery. In addition, it is critical to include care and harm reduction services that are community based and culturally responsive.³


As preventionists, continuing the utilization of evidence-based practices is essential to commemorating days such as International Drug Awareness Day. Evidence based practices may include advancing equity through strategies such as providing support groups, offering telehealth to increase accessibility, reducing criminalization, expanding insurance coverage, building structural support and most importantly continuing to reduce stigma.[4] Regarding prevention of overdose death, three strategies may be considered as:


  1.  Preventing overdose through the reduction of adverse childhood experiences and other causes of health disparities
  2. Treat substance misuse disorders early through improving accessibility and incorporating culturally sensitive practices
  3. Supporting harm reduction by expanding access to services, education and naloxone distribution.


There is no limit to what can be put into practice to reduce death rates due to drug overdose. To further understand the importance of adapting prevention interventions, the Central East PTTC network will be holding a free webinar on August 9, 2022, on Adapting Prevention Interventions to Better Serve Populations Which Are Under-Resourced.


  1.  International Overdose Awareness Day. DEA. Accessed July 26, 2022.
  2. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2021. Available at
  3. Kariisa M, Davis NL, Kumar S, et al. Vital Signs: Drug Overdose Deaths, by Selected Sociodemographic and Social Determinants of Health Characteristics — 25 States and the District of Columbia, 2019–2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:940–947. DOI:
  4. Kariisa M. Increases in Disparities in US Drug Overdose Deaths by Race and Ethnicity: Opportunities for Clinicians and Health Systems. JAMA. Published July 19, 2022. Accessed July 26, 2022.


International Drug Overdose Awareness Day
Princess Walker, TA Manager
Contributing Center(s):
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