August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. Since 2019, it is estimated that more than 90,000 lives have been lost to overdose. This staggering number of preventable deaths represents a fraction of the more than 750,000 lives estimated as overdose fatalities since 1999. For every family touched by these losses of loved ones, there are many families still battling addictions and substance use disorders (SUD).
Though much has been done by counselors and other health care professionals to try to enhance prevention, treatment, services, and supports, individuals with SUD often still face stigma, discrimination, and marginalization within society. The intersections of societal perceptions, personal challenges, and the physical and psychological manifestations of addiction result in barriers to seeking help and treatment.
H.Res. 349, put forward by Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA), supports lowering the United States flag to half-staff on all federal buildings on August 31 annually in recognition of Overdose Awareness Day and the lives lost due to SUD. This resolution has support from Republican and Democrat co-sponsors and is reflective of the actions of many state governments to lower their flags in recognition of this preventable health crisis facing the United States. NBCC, along with other addiction, mental health, and health care professional organizations in the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose (CSOO), submitted a letter of support for H.Res. 349. The CSOO is working on many fronts to promote policies that expand and enhance prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services.
Counselors are encouraged to access the link below for information and resources related to Overdose Awareness Day: https://www.overdoseday.com.