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International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

IOAD spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. Wear Silver to show your support.

The theme for 2014 is Rethink and Remember. Download the 2014 poster and infographics here.


  • I once knew a staggeringly beautiful woman who wore high cheekbones and as much make up as her face would hold. An extraordinary extrovert, this woman had a jovial laugh and a sparkling energy; a kind of energy that spread like fire and radiated to all who encircled her. She loved dogs and Chex Mix and slapstick humor like a bad Billy Madison movie. Sadly this woman committed suicide after a long battle with alcohol and drugs on October 8th, 2014 at the young age of 41. This woman was my sister Leslie. That's right, Leslie Machuzak, daughter, sister, alcoholic, drug addict. I share this with you, not because I am in search of pity, on the contrary, it's because I yearn for the moment when those that suffer from, and have fallen victim to the horrific disease that is addiction will one day be given the memorial that their souls truly deserve. Many of us, and particularly those that are lucky enough to have never been touched by this disease, are unaware that addicts are powerless against their addiction. Until recently, this has been a difficult concept for me to grasp, as I saw my sister shift from a hilarious, confident, and powerful woman to an individual quickly dwindling away, as if a cancerous python was slowly constricting around her neck and what I finally realized was that none of us are ever in competition with that python. For addicts, there is never a choice to be made. For years I wondered if I could have been a better brother somehow, if I could have changed her in some way. I practiced tough love and sent her books and information on recovery. What I didn't realize was that I am apart of the vast majority of humans that can have an alcoholic beverage or two and not feel the NEED to continue feeding that beast. I've never ingested a substance and yearned for something more powerful to fill the darkness within me. My sister woke up every morning, physically ill, her body surging with pain until she would succumb to the desire to resort to numbness. True, unabashed addiction is a level of suffering I cannot fathom. My sister was found dead on October 10th 2014. I was given the weight of telling the rest of my family of my sisters passing. Yes, this is a very jagged pill that I must swallow every morning. To describe the details to all of you now of my sisters death, is allowing me to truly embrace the fact that as her brother, I will always love her and am still proud of the woman she once was (and the woman that will forever be emblazoned in my memory as my big sister). When i went to clean out where my sister was staying a few days after she died, I saw something that would stay with me forever. On my sisters dresser was a picture of me and a newspaper article cutout of when I was arrested for my animal welfare organization. Even through her struggle and haze, and when I had nothing nice to say to her whatsoever, my sister still went out of her way each time we spoke to tell me that she was proud of me. She bragged, to the point of my own embarrassment, and never faltered when it came to expressing her love. She once told me that one of the only thing she hated in this world was having a part in disappointing or hurting me, and she clung to that until the day that she left this earth. My only hope is that, in her final moments in this life, she knew that she never disappointed me. In my 36 years with her, I have been supplied with a lifetime of hilarity, the drive and desire to reach out to others, memories of my sister making an absolute fool of herself simply to bring joy to those surrounding her. I see her in myself everyday. Not a "junkie," a "waste" or someone "deserving of death” all I could see was a beautiful woman. So what my experiences with this horrid disease known as addiction has really taught me is to have compassion over judgement because each person that has fallen victim to addiction was once someone to somebody. May my sister rest in peace.
  • In memory of those I've lost to drugs, mainly heroin, and to those battling addiction right now.
  • 2 1/2 years ago, I lost a very close friend from a heroin overdose. At that point, I was scared, I didn't know anything about the drug. Pretty much everyone from where I grew up was using OxyContin and other opiates and the fact that one of best friends had started doing heroin shocked me. A month ago I lost my best friend to an overdose.... same thing. Again. I feel empty. I cannot believe after my first friend passing, I didn't go out of my way to make sure my friend was okay. I know he struggled and was in and out of rehab, and was really trying. When he went through Recovery and the 12 Steps he reached out to me telling me how much he loved me and all the qualities I had that he adored. I adored him more than I ever knew. I will never have a friend that even compares to him. I don't know what to do to feel better about this. I want to learn about the drug and how it possesses you, but I feel frightened to indulge myself in the details of it. This past weekend, a month exactly after he passed, we held a memorial for him. It brought back a wave of emotions, and I know after losing him, I will never be the same again. I can hear him talking, I can see him singing, I can imagine hugging him, and laughing with him. Will this get better? I cant imagine losing another friend, so I've vowed to stay in touch with all those I love and never let the distance get between us.  Hopefully I can find a way to help people in this world, its the only thing that feels right in my heart.
  • I don't always agree with the decisions God makes. But I know He makes them from a position of love. And He knows best. I am grateful for the time He has given me to experience His love through my husband. A love that will never be forgotten. It may seem like I will miss you forever but my faith tells me it won't be long and we'll have eternity together. I love you Mikley Jervis, forever and always <3
  • I packed away Bailey's dress today / And it broke my heart in two, / Just looking at the pink and black lace / Made me cry for you. / Sometimes it comes right at me / Like an explosion of red hot flame, / It engulfs my eyes with tears / And it seems like nothing will stop the pain. / I have a hard time watching / Your sisters heart so broken, / Your brother keeps a calm face on / Your mom so softly spoken. / I don't know what I'd do / Without them by my side, / For they are a living part of you / I thank God for every night. / I want so bad to be angry / But that's difficult for me to do, / Because I love you so much / I could never stay angry with you. / I can't describe the pain I feel / Not having you here with me, / But I know within my broken heart / You are now forever free. / That's all I wanted most for you / Was your happiness, / And sometimes it warms my broken heart / To know your in tranquil bliss. / Thank you for loving me / So tenderly and true, / For all the soft sweet kisses / For telling me "I do". / Thank you for our children / No one could ever give me a gift so grand, / And I promise you they'll know / Their daddy was truly an amazing man. / I love you Mikley forever and always <3
Wearing silver can signify the loss of someone cherished and sends out a message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. Order your Silver Badge today.


Remembering those who have died – or been injured – because of overdose is an important part of International Overdose Awareness Day. If you would like to commemorate somebody, please add tributes here. Tributes will be posted on this website as soon as they are approved.

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Overdose Aware app

The Overdose Aware app aims to raise awareness amongst those who are experiencing drug use and their families, of how to recognise overdose signs and respond accordingly. The app shares information about what is an overdose, what are some of the key depressant, stimulant, opioid  and alcohol overdose symptoms.

Created with the kind support of the William Buckland Foundation, the Overdose Aware app is available for download on iPhone and Android. Read more>>


Thousands of people die each year from drug related causes.They come from all walks of life.

Do you recognise the signs and symptoms of overdose? What is the impact of drug use and overdose on family, friends and those experiencing it?

These videos are where people affected by the impact of drugs use and overdose share some of their stories.

“There wasn’t any white light. I didn’t make out Jesus or see my dead family members. It was just oblivion and it was very frightening.”


Canberra, ACT

Canberra, ACT
Event name: Directions IOAD Awareness Session
Location: City Needle and Syringe Program, Office 1, ground floor, City Health Centre, 1 Moore St, Canberra 2601 Map:
Type of event: Staff at our primary needle and syringe outlet will promote the campaign with overdose awareness posters, resources, hand out silver badges and educate visitors about the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy Overdose Prevention and Management (Naloxone) Course
Date and time: Friday 29 August, 9am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 5pm
Contact: Sascha Dilger
Phone: (02) 6132 4832


International Overdose Awareness Day is an initiative of Penington Institute and is funded with the kind support of our partner organisations.

RE Trust
The William Buckland Foundation

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