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Itasca, IL –The National Safety Council is calling on Americans to recognize International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31 by remembering lost loved ones and working to prevent future deaths, particularly deaths due to opioid overdose, which have reached alarming numbers in the country.
Drug overdoses in the U.S. totaled 54,793 in 2016, and nearly 38,000 of those involved opioids. Preventable opioid overdose deaths increased 29% in 2016 and are up 544% since 1999. Currently, 73% of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25 to 54, though the number of deaths among individuals age 55 and older is growing, presenting new challenges. Teens and seniors are affected as well.
“The opioid epidemic has taken an incredible toll on our nation, resulting in the loss of family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those who have died, but it is also an opportunity to prevent additional deaths through sharing stories and supporting education and advocacy efforts.”
Community members are urged to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day in some way, such as hosting or attending a candlelight vigil; participating in an educational program, such as how to administer naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug; disposing of unused medications in their home; or sharing an art-based project memorializing lives lost.
Additional activities include:
NSC provides free Warn-Me Labels that are sized to fit on insurance and prescription cards without covering up important information. The labels encourage patients to ask questions about the risks of prescribed opioids and whether there are safer, effective alternatives. In addition, NSC provides Seal and Send Envelopes from Stericycle to help make it easier for people to safely and correctly dispose of unused drugs. Envelopes are U.S. postage-paid, pre-addressed and include complete instructions. Larger quantities of both the labels and envelopes are available.
For more International Overdose Awareness Day ideas, visit nsc.org/overdoseawarenessday. To learn more about how to host a community awareness event, click here.
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