Less Than 50 Days Until International Overdose Awareness Day

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This entry has been published on July 14, 2021 and may be out of date.

With less than 50 days to go until International Overdose Awareness Day, now is the time to start planning your event, if you haven’t started already. For those who aren’t used to organising events, don’t worry, we have a fantastic bank of event ideas, big and small, created by the Penington Institute. There’s one for everyone!


Influencing policy is at the heart of the SSDP mission, and days of action are a great opportunity to reach out to policy and decision-makers over important topics. Remember to centre the voices of people who use drugs in these conversations, if, for example, you have limited experience with injection drug use, make a concerted effort to bring the voices of people who inject drugs to the table. Here are some topics with which you can engage decision-makers:

  • Campaign for (increased) access to Naloxone and training 
  • Campaign for the decriminalisation, funding and increased access to quality drug services, (Particularly Needle and Syringe Programs, Safe Consumption Rooms, Opioid Substitution Therapy)
  • Campaign for heroin-assisted treatment
  • Campaign for Drug Decriminalisation & Safe Drug Supply
  • Campaign for Good Samaritan/Medical Amnesty Policies. (You can do this on Campus!)

For more advocacy resources, check out the International Overdose Awareness Day resources page, the SSDP Campaigns, or contact your SSDP Point Person (if you’re not sure who that is contact outreach@ssdp.org)

Harm Reduction & Education

Harm Reduction and Education are key aspects of overdose prevention. Harm reduction and education cover a wide range of activities, from immediate response to overdose to long-term prevention. Running one of these events, even on a small scale, might help save a life or help someone avoid serious injury. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Naloxone Trainings (These are useful for everyone, from PWUD to frontline workers to student union officers)
  • Volunteer with your local Needle & Syringe Program (Consider seeing if you can provide volunteers on a long term basis, oftentimes people who can drive can be particularly useful for distributing clean needles to rural areas)
  • Support PWUD (Harm reduction is not limited to drug related activities, talking to PWUD and listening to their needs is one of the most important aspects of harm reduction. For those having a hard time, sometimes food, water, money, security or shelter will be the most helpful thing. Ask the person their needs first!)
  • Provide Drug Education & Sensitisation to Key Frontline Workers (Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Carers, Teachers, Student Union Officers, Social Workers and Security Professionals are in unique positions which interact with PWUD regularly, providing them with education on overdose prevention and the stigmatisation of PWUD allows them to also participate in overdose prevention and support PWUD)
  • Spotting & Responding to Overdose Trainings (These are useful for everyone, from PWUD to frontline workers to student union officers)

You will find lots of great resources about harm reduction and drug education on the International Overdose Awareness Day resources page and in our, Just Say Know Drug Education Program

Awareness & Memorial

More and more people die or become severely injured by overdose every year, oftentimes the public is ignorant to this. Bringing awareness to the increasing numbers of people affected by overdose and providing a space for the public mourning and memorialising of those lost to overdose is essential. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Create a video about overdose in your area
  • Highlight people with lived experience of overdose through panels and speaking opportunities
  • Bring the voices of people with lived experience to decision makers & people who influence policy
  • Hold a memorial event
  • Petition your government to fly their flags half mast

You can memorialise someone who has experienced overdose by posting a tribute here and you can find more campaign resources here.
These are all just a few ideas of ways you can commemorate Overdose Awareness Day this year, for lots more check out overdoseday.com. Remember you can register events here.