Overdose Awareness Day Puts Spotlight on National Epidemic

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. It is the world’s largest campaign to spread the message about the tragedy of drug overdose death and that drug overdose is preventable.

According to the CDC, there were more than 107,000 reported drug overdose deaths in 2021, and more than three-quarters were attributed to opioids. Counterfeit pills and drugs, sold illegally, containing fentanyl are the cause of many of those overdose deaths. Many drug dealers cut heroin or cocaine with fentanyl or sold fentanyl in place of other illicit narcotics without the user’s knowledge. Because fentanyl is cheap to produce, dealers are claiming the pills are other opioids, like hydrocodone or OxyContin, but in many cases, they are made with a deadly dose of fentanyl.

In addition to drawing attention to the opioid epidemic, International Overdose Awareness Day is also a time to remember those who have lost their lives to a drug overdose.

American Addiction Center’s “Addiction Talk” host, Joy Sutton, spoke to mother and author Cammie Wolf-Rice whose son passed away after an overdose. She stresses the importance of eliminating the stigma surrounding addiction and how any feelings of shame can’t compare to the reality of losing a child to this disease.

“It took me almost two years to even say the word “overdose” because of the stigma that our society places on people who have kids suffering from addiction,” says Wolf-Rice.

Now, she is speaking out in honor of her son, Christopher, about the dangers of opioids. Even though grief can feel like a bottomless pit, she rose up and found a greater purpose. In her book, “Flight,” Wolf-Rice talks about her own journey and her dedication to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic.

“I want to help other mothers, fathers, and families from losing their loved ones to this type of tragedy,” she says. “I miss my son every second of every day, there is nothing worse.”

International Overdose Awareness Day also focuses on:

  • Providing an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones.
  • Sending a strong message to people who use drugs and people in recovery that they are valued.
  • Informing people around the world about the risk of a drug overdose.
  • Providing basic information on the range of support services that are available.
  • Preventing and reducing drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based practice.

Medical experts say International Overdose Awareness Day is also an opportunity to explore how harm-reduction strategies can help save lives. Narcan—the opioid overdose reversal drug—can help reduce overdose deaths in the community.

“Addiction affects people of all backgrounds, gender, and every walk of life, it’s important for everyone to have access to Narcan,” says Dr. Mark Calarco, American Addiction Centers National Medical Director for Clinical Diagnostics. “If you know someone who misuses prescription or illicit opioids, having Narcan on hand can save their life.”

New Jersey Overdose Statistics

The presence of fentanyl in the illegal drug market has highly contributed to opioid overdoses in New Jersey. Deaths involving fentanyl saw an enormous spike from 2015-2019. There were 417 fentanyl-involved deaths in 2015 that number rose by a staggering 439% to 2,248 in 2019.

If you are struggling with addiction and looking for rehab in New Jersey, Sunrise House Treatment Center can help. Our admissions navigators can help you find the right treatment program and walk you through the process, so you can focus on recovery. They are available 24/7 at .

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