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International Overdose Awareness Day a Time to Remember and Take Action

August 31, 2023 12:55 PM | Anonymous

August 31 is International Overdoes Awareness Day, the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose.  Today we:

  • Remember loved ones who have died from drug overdose and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind;
  • Take action to encourage support and recovery for everyone impacted by substance use and overdose; and
  • End overdose by spreading awareness of overdose prevention strategies.

The following article was posted on the American Society of Addition Medicine on August 30.  It was written by Dr Nicholas Athanasiou (Editor-in-Chief) and summarizes the growing impact of overdoes in our world.

Drug use and overdose rates are a concern for the public’s health. A new report from the CDC looks at how overdose rates during the pandemic varied across different industries and work settings while highlighting significant health equity issues in the US (National Vital Statistics Report). It’s hard not to think about “deaths of despair” when reading this, but then an article from TIME reminds us that “deaths of despair” might be too narrow a view because there is more to "despair-ism" than originally conceptualized.

Data from Monitoring the Future found that young adults report using marijuana and hallucinogens at or near historically high levels while middle-aged adults report record levels of binge drinking (NIDA News). Maybe Generation X is responding to the difficulties of being sandwiched between two hippie generations. 

Cannabis is now the most commonly used illegal (federal) drug in pregnancy, which means that perinatal research needs to close the knowledge gap quickly -- both for maternal and paternal use -- so we can better guide clinicians, develop policy, and inform the public (JAMA). A review on nitrous oxide toxicity reminds us that use of a cheap and easily accessible substance should be included on our differentials, especially when seeing youth and young adults with unusual gait (CMAJ). 

More globally, Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria is looking to spread addiction and turmoil to global enemies by dealing a new amphetamine-type stimulant called captagon (The Messenger).  Evidently, drug use and overdose rates are a concern for geopolitical foes too.

Thanks for reading,

Nicholas Athanasiou, MD, MBA, DFASAM
Editor in Chief
with Co-Editors: Brandon Aden, MD, MPH, FASAM, Debra R. Newman, PA-C, MSPAS, MPH, Jack Woodside, MD, John A. Fromson, MD

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