Yesterday (31 August) marked International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event designed to spread the message that ‘the tragedy of overdose death is preventable’, as well as help reduce stigma and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends of those who’ve died.
The campaign’s website at www.overdoseday.com features a downloadable ‘overdose aware’ app and a wide range of other resources, as well as personal tributes from people around the world. Last year saw drug-related deaths reach record levels in Scotland and England, a situation Release called a ‘national crisis’ (DDN, September, page 4), while more than half a million people in the US have died of a drug overdose since the turn of this century (DDN, September, page 5).
Meanwhile, a set of best-practice principles to address rising death rates has been published by a working group of NHS and voluntary sector treatment providers. Improving clinical responses to drug-related deaths by the NHS Substance Misuse Provider Alliance and Collective Voice, with support from PHE, is an easy-to-use toolkit that combines best practice examples with advice on practical implementation.
‘Through the course of the last six months we have listened to people who use treatment services, researchers and analysts,’ said Phoenix Futures CEO Karen Biggs. ‘No one claims to have the whole answer. The causes of the high level of deaths our communities are experiencing over recent years are due to a range of complex interrelated issues that vary depending on your age, your gender and where you live in the country. The solutions therefore need to be sophisticated, tailored and delivered by a range of agencies working in local communities. We hope the report we have published today inspires a new commitment and new thinking, and goes some way to providing a solution.’
Improving clinical responses to drug-related deaths at www.collectivevoice.org.uk