International Overdose Awareness Day 2023 recognises those who go unseen

Published on 30 Aug 2023

Today, on International Overdose Awareness Day, the Mental Health Commission remembers those who have died, and acknowledges the grief of the family and friends left behind.

Coordinated by the Pennington Institute, International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose.

Held on 31 August each year, it is a day to remember and support families and friends who have loved and lost people to overdose, and those with a permanent injury as a result of overdose. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of overdose, reduce stigma and highlight the importance of prevention.

Silhouette of people with text: #Enderverdose

This year’s theme, “Recognising those people who go unseen”, honours the people whose lives have been impacted by overdose. This includes family and friends grieving the loss of a loved one, workers who show compassion and strength and continue to advocate for individuals and overdose prevention, and first responders who assume the role of lifesaver by responding to an opioid overdose.

This year’s campaign coincides with the 10-year anniversary of Peer Based Harm Reduction WA‘s Peer Naloxone Project, which is funded by the Mental Health Commission. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioid overdose, to help prevent overdose-related harm and death.

Through peer education and community outreach, the Peer Naloxone Project raises awareness about take home naloxone programs and provides access to naloxone to people who use opioids, people who are at risk of overdose, and people who may witness overdose (family, friends and workers).

Mental Health Commissioner Maureen Lewis said the International Overdose Awareness Day campaign was important in raising awareness of overdose, one of the world’s worst public health crises.

“Campaigns like this help to stimulate action and discussion about evidence-based overdose prevention and drug policy,” Ms Lewis said.

“The Commission would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the profound grief felt by families and friends whose loved ones have died or suffered permanent injury from a drug overdose.

“At the same time, we acknowledge the many lives saved through our funded Peer Naloxone Project, which this year celebrates its 10-year anniversary and further highlights the fact that drug overdose is preventable.” 

For mental health, alcohol and other drug support and information, call Here For You on 1800here4u (1800 437 348) from 7am to 10pm any day of the week.

For other helplines, visit:

In an emergency, call 000.

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