Get Involved This International Overdose Awareness Day

August 24, 2021. Article by: Government of B.C.

This has been a challenging year for everyone in British Columbia, and across the world. Amongst a number of different crises, many people in the province continue to struggle with the devastating effects of the toxic illicit drug supply.

The overdose crisis impacts every community in B.C. as toxic drugs continue to circulate. In May 2021, there were 160 suspected drug poisoning deaths. This is equal to about 5 deaths per day.

The sadness and grief caused by these deaths is felt across the province. You may be wondering what you can do to help, learn more or get involved.

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day – a yearly event to raise awareness and create conversation about drug-related deaths. Each year, communities gather to remember those who have died or suffered injury due to drug overdose. This day provides a space to acknowledge grief, to reflect and remember, and to have important conversations to reduce the stigma around substance use.

Stigma can make it challenging for people to reach out for support - due to fears of judgement, shame or rejection from loved ones, friends, and the community.

Each person can play a part in reducing stigma and building awareness. By learning more about drug use and addiction, we can create safer places for someone to find support and feel less alone.

If you would like to get involved, there are steps you can take:

Attend a virtual or social distanced in-person event

Check out International Overdose Awareness Day activities online or in Canada.

If you need a place to start – Moms Stop The Harm, an anti-stigma organization, will be hosting a LIVE STREAM Facebook Candlelight Vigil taking place on Tuesday, August 31st at 6:30 pm PDT. This will be an evening of music and words of remembrance featuring guest speakers: Lisa Lapointe, BC Coroner; Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth, BC Representative for Children & Youth; and Leslie McBain, Co-Founder of Moms Stop The Harm.

Take time to remember

Post a tribute to honour the memory of someone who has lost their life or suffered a permanent injury due to overdose. Create an art piece, plant a tree, light a candle – or simply take a moment to reflect and remember. Each life is valued and cherished, and many people are affected. While nothing can take the place of a lost loved one, there can be great healing in community and connection.

Share resources and materials

Download posters, fact sheets, social media graphics and more to help promote International Overdose Awareness Day online and in your community.

Post or connect through conversations online

Use #IOAD, #StopOverdose and #EndStigma to share personal stories, blogposts and add your voice to the conversation on social media. Talking about overdose could save a life. Check out International Overdose Awareness Day on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date on the latest news and activities.

Have a courageous conversation

More than ever, now is the time to reach out. Whether you are someone who uses drugs, or you know someone who uses drugs – have a conversation. Let someone know you care and that they deserve love. Connecting with others can help people stay safer, raise awareness, and reduce stigma, which can make it easier for people to access the support and services they need and deserve.


If you suspect an overdose, call 9-1-1 right away.