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Overdose Awareness Day

Overdose Awareness Day (OAD) is an annual event held on August 31st each year. It is a commemorative occasion to honour and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives due to overdose. The day provides the opportunity for family, friends and the community to acknowledge and grieve their loss, celebrate the lives of their loved ones, as well as to offer comfort and support. The event also provides the opportunity to counter the stigma attached to deaths from overdose and to raise awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse by offering information and strategies to avoid overdose.  

The first OAD was held in Melbourne in 2001.  Sally Finn, manager of a Salvation Army needle and syringe program, was touched by the sorrow she observed among the friends and families of those who had overdosed.  She witnessed their inability to express that sorrow because of the stigma surrounding people who use drugs.  Sally decided to organise an event of remembrance to distribute ribbons.  She thought she would need 500, she gave out 6,000.  

In 2012 the organising of international Overdose Awareness Day was passed from Salvation Army Crisis Services to the non-profit Australian public health body, Penington Institute, which works to ‘increase understanding of – and improve responses to – the problems arising from the use of and alcohol and other drugs’.
Overdose Awareness Day is a chance for families, friends, NGOS and churches, governments and health services, police and ambulance officers etc. to educate the general public about the nature and responses to overdoses. 

Past Overdose Awareness Days


Overdose awareness day 2013Five minutes with Kathryn Wright: The Salvos’ Alcohol and Other Drugs Unit Director discusses the theme of prevention and remembrance.


Overdose awareness day 2012Loosing Shane: Narelle Hassett honours the memory of her brother who died of an overdose in 2011. 


Overdose awareness day 2011A Day for Awareness: Almost one person dies every day in this country from heroin overdoses alone. The bigger picture is more complex. 


Overdose awareness day 2010Before thier time: Every year thousands of people worldwide die after overdosing on substances.


Overdose Awareness Day 2009Poison pills: It's not just celebrities dying from prescription drug overdose.