International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s biggest annual campaign to end deaths by overdose.
Every year, 31st August is a day to remember those who have died, or have a permanent illness or injury as a result of drug overdose. It’s also a day to acknowledge the grief of those left behind, without stigma.
The day also helps to spread the message that the tragedy of overdose death is entirely preventable.
What is an overdose?
Drug overdoses can be intentional, or accidental. They happen when someone takes more than the recommended dose of a drug, or more than their body has developed a tolerance for. Some people can be more sensitive to certain drugs, or have a lower tolerance than others.
Death from an overdose can be from heart failure, liver failure, or respiratory failure.
In 2020, 4,561 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in England and Wales – the highest since 1993, when records began. In Scotland, 1,339 people died of drug misuse in 2020, marking the seventh year in a row that the country has seen a record number of drug deaths.
Which drugs most commonly cause overdoses?
Overdoses are often associated with depressant drugs, such as opiates, barbiturates, and solvents. These drugs can be particularly dangerous when used alongside other depressant substances like alcohol or tranquilisers.
Stimulant-related overdoses are less common, but still possible.
What are the symptoms of a drug overdose?
The physical, noticeable symptoms of a drug overdose can vary depending on the type of drugs taken, and sometimes include:
- Abnormal breathing
- Slurred speech
- Unusually slow or fast pulse rate
- Loss of coordination
- Low or high body temperature
- Small or enlarged pupils
- Heavy sweating
- Delusions and/or hallucinations
- Unconsciousness, which can lead to a coma
Throughout 2021, we are supporting four incredible charities through our Giving Back campaign.
For every legal instruction we receive, we promise to donate £5 to these four charities. One of those charities is Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, who support anyone concerned about a loved one’s alcohol or drug use in Scotland.