Over the last 20 years, the United States has lost almost 1 million mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, and friends due to drug overdose-related deaths. Every year on August 31, International Overdose Day is recognized as the world’s largest campaign to end overdose. The Blanchard Institute holds this commemorative day very close to our hearts, and we stand in support of those who have lost a family member or friend due to an overdose-related death.

This day aims to bring awareness to overdose and drug-related deaths and to reduce the stigma that so often is associated with those who struggle with addiction. Today we also acknowledge the grief of family members, friends and loved ones who have been left behind by an overdose death. Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and it can feel impossible to move forward from this kind of sorrow. Know that you are not alone in these feelings, and it is always okay to ask for support.

Recent statistics prove the importance of asking for help, and perhaps more importantly, stepping in when a loved one needs guidance towards treatment. Since 1999, drug-related deaths have grown at an alarming rate every single year. But in the last 3 years, we have seen the largest jumps yet. Between 2019 and 2020, drug-related deaths increased 31% with a total of 95,000 deaths due to overdose. This steep increase clearly illustrates how pressing the problem truly is.

Opioids were involved in 70% of those 95,000 lost lives. And almost 75% of those deaths were due to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanil. The United States’ opioid epidemic is nothing new and impacts every state, community and town across the country. For perspective, the United States represents only 4-5% of the global population, but consumes around 80-90% of the world’s pain medications. 

Opioids aside, the total number of drug-related deaths in 2019 alone comes to 71,000. Almost 63,000 of those were preventable. Preventable drug overdoses exclude deaths caused by suicide, homicide and undetermined intents. We must come together to put a stop to so many preventable deaths. The Blanchard Institute is here to help those struggling with substance use disorders (SUDs) enter into a life of recovery. No one should need to fall into the depths of addiction. No one should have a personal connection to International Overdose Day. Please reach out to our team today if you or a loved one need help.