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International Overdose Awareness Day: August 31

Publication Date: Aug 25, 2021

Communities throughout the Great Lakes region (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI) will be observing International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, 2021.

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) was launched in Australia in 2001 and is now coordinated by the non-profit Penington Institute. Today, IOAD is the world’s largest campaign to end overdose, raise awareness about evidence-based overdose prevention, and reduce stigma, and remember those who have died.

International Overdose Awareness Day is an especially significant observance as overdose deaths continue to rise, with COVID-19 isolation and fentanyl playing a factor in the additional mortalities.

Events in the Great Lakes Region 

The growing list of events posted on the International Overdose Awareness Day website shows 15 events scheduled in Illinois, 7 in Indiana, 2 in Minnesota, 10 in Michigan, 19 in Ohio, and 4 in Wisconsin. 

Many observances will include candlelight vigils to honor loved ones lost to overdose. One example in Madison, Wisconsin, is the Fourth Annual International Overdose Day Observance.

Offered by Safe Communities of Madison and Dane County in collaboration with the African American Opioid Coalition and ARC Community Services, the event features the Your Light Still Shines memorial gathering.

Madison Safe Communities Flag Display Crop

The Safe Communities office provides white memorial flags for loved ones to dedicate to those lost to an overdose, writing a name and a message of the flag. On the evening of August 31, community organizations and affected loved ones will gather at Madison’s Olbrich Park for the remembrance event that includes free refreshments, speakers, and a candlelit walk through the memorial display.

(For more information or to have your loved one’s name placed on a flag for the Madison event, please email [email protected].)

“It is so important to allow grieving loved ones to come together, be seen and heard, and give voices to those who can’t tell their stories anymore,” says Kristina Vaccaro, Safe Communities Event Coordinator. “Our goal is to end the stigma associated with overdose deaths and let those who’ve lost someone know that we are with them as a community.”

For more information on hosting an IOAD event, visit the International Overdose Awareness Day website