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About Us

An Inspired Idea

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) began in Melbourne, Australia in 2001.

Today it is a global campaign. Last year, 874 IOAD events took place in 39 countries, surpassing the previous record tally of 747, set in 2018. In 2020 – IOAD’s 20th anniversary year – the campaign is set to break its own record again.

From 2012 International Overdose Awareness Day was organised by the not-for-profit Australian public health organisation Anex, which in April 2014 became a program of Penington Institute.

Penington Institute

Penington Institute advances health and community safety by connecting substance use research to practical action.

We help individuals and the wider community through research, analysis, promotion of effective strategies, workforce education and public awareness activities.


International Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths.

It is also an opportunity to stimulate discussion about evidence-based overdose prevention and drug policy.

International Overdose Awareness Day acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends whose loved-ones have died or suffered permanent injury from a drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message about the tragedy of drug overdose death and that drug overdose is preventable.

The goals of International Overdose Awareness Day are:

  • To provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones in a safe environment, some for the first time without feeling guilt or shame.
  • To include the greatest number of people in International Overdose Awareness Day events, and encourage non-denominational involvement.
  • To give community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdose.
  • To send a strong message to current and former people who use drugs that they are valued.
  • To stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy.
  • To provide basic information on the range of support services that are available.
  • To prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice.
  • To inform people around the world about the risk of overdose.