International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day, August 31st, 2023

International Overdose Awareness Day (IODA) is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose. This campaign aims to raise awareness of overdoses and end overdose deaths, reduce stigma around these topics, and acknowledge the worldwide grief felt by friends and families of those lost or left behind.

This year’s theme is “recognizing those who go unseen” to shine a light on those affected by overdose who have gone unnoticed amid the crisis. We honor and support our communities by participating in events, promoting resources and educational tools, and remembering loved ones.

To learn more about this year’s campaign and find events near you, visit

Addressing Stigma

Stigma is a significant barrier to treatment and recovery for individuals with substance use disorder. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 23% of individuals needing treatment reported that stigma kept them from pursuing addiction treatment.

But we can all do our part by breaking down misconceptions about substance use disorder and recovery.

  • Recovery isn’t rare: 1 in 10 adults reports being in recovery from SUD, according to a 2017 research study.
  • Substance use disorder isn’t isolated to a small group of people: 46%, or almost half of Americans, have a close friend or loved one who has struggled with an addiction.
  • Substance use disorder is a health condition that needs treatment: 90% of people with a form of addiction, however, never seek treatment, mainly due to fear of judgment and shame.
  • Support makes a difference: With more support, more people recover.

Our local “Don’t Count Us Out” campaign provides additional information to help reduce stigma and how to use supportive language and have helpful conversations.

What to do in an overdose

We can save lives with knowledge, preparation, and naloxone. Minutes count in an opioid overdose. if you think someone has overdosed, follow these steps:

Check for signs of an overdose.

  • The person won’t wake up. Try rubbing your knuckles hard on their sternum.
  • Slow or no breathing.
  • Pale, ashy, cool skin.
  • Blue or gray lips on fingernails.

Call 911.

Tell the dispatcher where you are and that someone is unconscious or not breathing.

If you are trying to help in an overdose, the WA State’s 911 Good Samaritan/Overdose Law protects you and the overdose victim from drug possession charges. Don’t be afraid to call 911 for help!

If you can’t stay until 911 help arrives, place the person on their side and where first responders can find them.

Give naloxone and rescue breaths.

  • Administer naloxone. Giving naloxone to a person who is overdosing can save their life.
  • Tilt head back. Lift chin. Pinch nose.
  • Give a full breath. Their chest should rise when you exhale.
  • Give a breath every 5 seconds.

If the person wakes up and starts breathing, stay with them. Please encourage them to get follow-up medical care where health staff can:

  • Monitor their breathing.
  • Manage any withdrawal symptoms.
  • Treat any other medical conditions.

To learn more, visit, and for professionals and the public visit King County’s overdose prevention webpage where you can also find resources on naloxone access.

Originally Published 8/31/2023