International Overdose Awareness Day is 31st August

 Local communities in New Hampshire and around the world are coming together on August 31st, 2023 to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose.

Observed on August 31 every year, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) seeks to create 

better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.

By holding an event this year, the people of New Hampshire are joining a global movement for understanding, compassion, and change. Global overdose rates have skyrocketed in the last 25 years. In 2020, an estimated 284 million people worldwide had used a drug in the past 12 months, a 26 per cent increase from 2010.

The situation is especially severe in the US. In 2021, provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were 107,622 drug overdose deaths, an increase of 15 per cent from 2020. 

In New Hampshire, the number of drug overdose deaths rose 11 percent last year alone, to 486, nearly reaching the grim record the state had set four years earlier, according to a story in the Boston Globe.

“We’re back to a level that we haven’t seen since 2018, which was really the height of the opioid epidemic,” said Chris Stawasz, regional director for American Medical Response, in an August 4th story on WMUR

According to the June Drug Monitoring Initiative, For 2023 there were 171 confirmed drug overdose deaths and 77 cases pending toxicology as of July 11, but the August 10th Office of Chief Medical Examiner report had this total number of overdose deaths at 198 with 90 pending. With deadly substances like Xylazine entering the drug supply, the fall and winter might add devastating numbers to the 2023 overdose numbers.  

“By coming together to remember them, we stand together to say that more needs to be done to end overdose in our community,” said Cheryle Pacapelli, the project director for the facilitating organization at Harbor Care that supports recovery community organizations’ development on behalf of the state. Some of the events this year include: 

Navigating Recovery’s Vigil: A Powerful Moment of Community

For seven years, Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region has held a solemn vigil in Laconia to remember those who have lost their lives to addiction, to support those who are still struggling, and to celebrate the power of recovery. This event is more than just a gathering; it’s a deeply moving and impactful moment that brings the community together.

 The vigil begins with a candlelight procession to Rotary Park, where people gather to share stories, sing songs, and light candles in memory of loved ones. There are also speakers who share their own experiences with addiction and recovery. The event ends with a moment of silence to honor those who have been lost.

The vigil is a powerful reminder that addiction is a serious problem that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s also a reminder that recovery is possible, and that there is hope for those who are struggling.

For more information, visit

International Overdose Awareness Day is convened by Penington Institute, an Australian not-for-profit. This year for the first time, they have announced a campaign theme: Recognizing those who go unseen. 

A full list of the IOAD 2023 events currently planned around the world can be found at:


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