Maryland Observes International Overdose Awareness Day

Flags in Maryland are at half-staff today to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day, observed annually on August 31st in remembrance of people who have died of a drug overdose. Governor Larry Hogan also directed the Government House to be lit purple to mark the occasion and in recognition of September as National Recovery Month. 

“Today is a solemn occasion for all Maryland families, our friends, and our neighbors who have lost a loved one to the disease of addiction,” said Governor Hogan. “This is not only a day to honor their memories, it is a call to action – we must all work together to end these preventable deaths and to get help to those who need it” (press release).

“Each one of us has a story about how our lives are impacted by substance use disorders and the opioid crisis,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “There is power in sharing those experiences with others, including the next generation to empower them to make different choices and make a difference. We are committed to using every tool at our disposal to support individuals battling addiction, their families, and communities for a brighter future” (press release).

According to an agency press release:

Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, chair of the Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council will present a Proclamation commemorating International Overdose Awareness Day during an event at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City today.

This year’s commemoration comes during a time when fatal overdoses have reached historic levels in the United States. According to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 93,000 individuals lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2020, the most ever recorded in the U.S. This represented an increase of 29.4 percent from the previous year. Fatal overdoses also increased in Maryland last year, though by a smaller margin. According to a report issued by Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC), fatal overdoses involving all types of drugs and alcohol increased by nearly 18 percent in the state in 2020.

Below are just a few ways this important day is being recognized across the state: