WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Thursday, Aug. 31, is International Overdose Awareness Day, the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdoes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is a day to remember loved ones who have died from a drug overdose, acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind, take action to encourage support and recovery for everyone impacted by substance use and overdose, and end overdose by spreading awareness of overdose prevention strategies.

The CDC says the goals of IOAD are:

  • To provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones
  • To send a strong message to people who use drugs and people in recovery that they are valued
  • To inform people around the world about the risk of drug overdose
  • To provide basic information on the range of support services that are available
  • To prevent and reduce drug-related harms by supporting evidence-based practice

You can publicly mourn a loved one by posting a tribute to the Penington Institute’s website.

The Penington Institute’s website also shares educational materials about overdose response, prevention and harm reduction.

The CDC’s Division of Overdose Prevention in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says it is marking IOAD with the release of a new report showing counterfeit pill availability is increasing in the U.S.

“A new study indicates an increasing percentage of overdose deaths are related to counterfeit pill use,” according to the CDC’s Division of Overdose Prevention in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “These pills are especially dangerous because they typically appear as pharmaceutical pills but often contain illegally made fentanyl and illegal benzodiazepines or other drugs, with or without people’s knowledge.”

Researchers for the study state they found that among 29 states and the District of Columbia (DC), the percentage of overdose deaths involving counterfeit pills more than doubled from July–September 2019 (2.0%) to October–December 2021 (4.7%), and more than tripled in the West (4.7% to 14.7%).

The report also found that in 2021, people who died from overdoses involving counterfeit pills were more often under the age of 35 and Hispanic, compared to those without counterfeit pill evidence, according to the study.

Read the complete study, “Drug Overdose Deaths with Evidence of Counterfeit Pill Use — United States, July 2019–December 2021,” here.