International Overdose Awareness Day — August 31, 2019

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August 31, 2019, is International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event that aims to raise awareness that overdose death is preventable and to reduce the stigma associated with drug-related death. Goals also include providing information about risk for overdose and community services and preventing drug-related harm through evidence-based policy and practice (

The opioid overdose epidemic, which killed 47,600 U.S. persons in 2017,* substantially expanded in 2013 driven by rapid increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (excluding methadone), particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Cocaine and methamphetamine overdose deaths co-involving synthetic opioids also rapidly increased during this period (1).

A report in this issue of MMWR documented decreases in opioid-involved overdose deaths in 25 states from July–December 2017 to January–June 2018, especially those involving fentanyl analogs and prescription opioids. Overdose deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl (including those co-occurring with illicit opioids and stimulants) increased (2). Improved identification of persons at high risk for overdoses involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl and linkage to risk-reduction services and evidence-based treatment are critical to reducing opioid deaths. Further information on CDC’s state efforts and overdose data is available at


  1. Kariisa M, Scholl L, Wilson N, Seth P, Hoots B. Drug overdose deaths involving cocaine and psychostimulants with abuse potential—United States, 2003–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:388–95. CrossRef PubMed
  2. Gladden RM, O’Donnell J, Mattson C, Seth P. Changes in opioid-involved overdose deaths by opioid type and presence of benzodiazepines, cocaine, and methamphetamine—25 states, July–December 2017–January–June 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:737–44.

Suggested citation for this article: International Overdose Awareness Day — August 31, 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:737. DOI:

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