August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day in Orange County

Each August 31st, people in every country have observed International Overdose Awareness Day. First organized in Melbourne, Australia in 2001, now there are hundreds of events around the world– vigils by candlelight in remembrance of friends and family members taken by addiction and awareness events aimed at preventing similar tragedies in the future.

International Overdose Awareness Day—What It’s Is All About

Every organization will observe International Overdose Awareness Day in its own unique way, but there are common goals every year:

  • To go beyond the numbers and put a human face on the drug epidemic.
  • To give people an opportunity to publicly mourn their loved ones lost to drug overdose or alcohol poisoning.
  • To raise awareness within their local community about the issue and impact of overdoses.
  • To spark a dialogue about overdose prevention within the local community.
  • To promote the availability of local treatment providers
  • To reduce the harm caused by the disease of addiction.

But the single biggest goal of International Overdose Awareness Day is to send hopeful, positive messages to ANYONE struggling with Substance Use Disorder:

  • You are NOT alone.
  • There IS hope.
  • YOUR life matters.
  • HELP is available.
  • Drug overdoses are PREVENTABLE.

Fatal Overdoses Continue to Increase

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were 72,300 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2017. Sadly, this is an all-time high.

This has become a tragic trend. For 19 straight years, EVERY year has set an unfortunate new “record”. In 1999, there were “just” 16,849 fatal overdoses in the US. Since then, each subsequent year has seen an increase, usually by double-digit percentage points. For example, from 2016 to 2017, there was an almost 13% jump.

Within a single generation, the total number of drug fatalities has skyrocketed 429%.

Overdose Deaths in California

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 5357 fatal overdoses in California in 2017. In fact, drug overdoses are the leading cause of premature deaths in the state.

The overdose problem is a painful reality here in Orange County, and as is the case elsewhere in the country, opioid abuse is the driving factor. For example, between 2011 and 2015, there were 7457 local emergency room visits involving opioid abuse or overdoses. In fact, 70% of the overdose deaths investigated by the Orange County Coroner involve opioids.

This is why in July 2017, the Orange County Board of Supervisors accepted a grant for over 6200 doses of Narcan, the emergency medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day in Orange County

For the fourth straight year, there will be a candlelight vigil held in remembrance of overdose victims on Friday, August 31, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at The Club at Rancho Niguel, in Laguna Niguel.

Another event will take place in neighboring San Diego County. Sponsored by the Grief Recovery after a Substance Passing (GRASP) chapters in North San Diego County, La Mesa, and Carlsbad, the “International Overdose Awareness Day Pier Walk and Memorial” will begin at 6:30 PM Friday the 31st. It will be held at The Strand North at the Oceanside Pier, South Pier Plaza bleachers located in Oceanside.

It’s time to end the epidemic of drug overdose deaths. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug addiction, contact Chapman House TODAY to get the help you need.


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