International Overdose Awareness Day Aug 31st.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on August 31st of each year. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of overdose deaths and instead recognize this is a mental health crisis that we as a community can prevent. Further, this day focuses on acknowledging the deaths, and those who are grieving the losses or the injuries of loved ones because of an overdose. 

According to the British Columbia Report of Overdose Deaths; in May 2022 alone, there were 195 suspected overdoses, this is the highest number of deaths ever recorded in the month of May, a 13% increase from last year. To put this into perspective that is totalling around 6.3 deaths per day in British Columbia alone. We need to take action, there are ways you can help!

THREE ways YOU Can Make a Difference: 

  1. Receive Naloxone training to be able to administer Naloxone when there is a suspected overdose. Naloxone is a life-saving drug that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose for 30-90 minutes, this provides enough time for emergency services to arrive. Naloxone can save lives! There is a FREE training opportunity in Kelowna visit: . Once you are eligible you can receive a naloxone kit from your local community pharmacy. 
  2. Re-frame how you speak about individuals using substances to reduce the stigma. It is very important to be mindful of how you are speaking about overdose deaths or someone struggling with substance use. The language you use can contribute to isolating these individuals because of feeling shame and judgment from others, feeling like they are all alone in their battle. One way to change your language is think of using person-first language instead of substance-use language first. For instance, using “an individual with a cocaine use disorder” instead of “an addict,” “abuser,” or “junkie.” Moving away from labeling an individual as an illness they are battling and instead recognizing there is more to this person than their illness. 
  3. Wear purple on August 31st to support International Overdose Awareness Day. By wearing purple, you are showing you support this day and open conversations to be had with others. This is a significant opportunity to educate or provide resources to those around you. 

Resources for Support in British Columbia: 

  • If you suspect an overdose, call 9-1-1 immediately and follow their instructions while support is on the way. 
  • 310-Mental Health: Call 310-6789 (no area code needed) toll-free anywhere in British Columbia to access support and information related to mental health and substance use issues. This line is available 24 hours a day. 
  • Call 811 from anywhere in British Columbia to speak with a nurse about non-emergency health matters at any time. 
  • Visit for information on all Drug Rehab Centers in Kelowna, B.C. 

This Overdose Survival Guide provided by the Government of British Columbia is very informative on prevention, knowing if someone has overdosed and how to take action. 


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(BC Centre for Disease Control, n.d.)


Government of British Columbia. (2022). Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths in BC. Retrieved from

Okanagan Naloxone. (n.d.). Okanagan Naloxone Training. Retrieved from

Canadian Mental Health Association. (2021). International Overdose Awareness Day. Retrived from 

BC Centre for Disease Control. (n.d.). Overdose Survival Guide [PDF]. Retrieved from

College of Pharmacists of British Columbia. (n.d.). Naloxone. Retrieved from