International Overdose Awareness Day


31 Aug 2022

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a day for people and communities around the world to come together to grieve and to encourage action to end one of the world’s most urgent public health crises, and remember the lives lost to drug overdose and opioid-related toxicity.

Public Health Ontario (PHO) recognizes the many lives lost to drug overdose and opioid-related toxicity, and the impacts on people and communities over the years. This has escalated more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 2,400 Ontarians who died from opioid-related causes in the first year of the pandemic.

PHO is responding to the opioid crisis by providing support for community-led responses to opioid/overdose-related harms across Ontario, including sharing information and resources across communities.

PHO recognizes that the expertise, strengths, innovation and leadership of people who use drugs are central in the development and implementation of programs and services to respond to the overdose crisis.

COMmunity Opioid/Overdose CAPacity Building
This PHO lead initiative, also known as COM-CAP, is a four-year project funded by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addiction Program. The goal of COM-CAP is to support community-led responses to opioid/overdose-related harms in communities across Ontario. Visit the COM-CAP webpage to find information and resources related to the project and community opioid/overdose response.

Lives Lost to Opioid Toxicity
A recent report from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN) at St. Michael’s Hospital, a site of Unity Health Toronto, ICES, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario and PHO found that nearly one in 13 opioid-related deaths in Ontario between 2018 and 2020 occurred among construction workers. The report also found among construction workers who died, over half were employed at time of death.

The report shows deaths among construction workers are primarily being driven by the unregulated drug supply – not pharmaceutical opioids prescribed for pain – with cocaine and alcohol being more commonly involved in opioid toxicity deaths among construction workers compared to those not working in the construction industry.

Learn more about the study here.

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Updated 31 Aug 2022