International Overdose Awareness Day

August 31, 2022 – For International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), local organizations and community members will be gathering at Paterson Park from 11am to 2pm to share information on available supports, provide overdose awareness training and free naloxone, and to pay tribute to those who have died or suffered permanent injury from an overdose. A candlelight vigil will be held in the evening. It is a day for people to mourn loved ones in a safe environment, show support, acknowledge that every person’s life is valuable, and work to reduce the stigma of substance use.

Overdose is recognized as a worldwide public health crisis, and our own community has been significantly impacted. Opioid-related death rates in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) area were over three times higher than the provincial average in 2022; with 51.0 per 100,000 in TBDHU compared to 16.1 per 100,000 in Ontario1. The City of Thunder Bay had the highest rate of opioid-related deaths in Ontario in 20222.

The toxic drug supply is a significant contributing factor to the high rates of overdose and substance-related deaths experienced in our community. NorWest Community Health Centres, Thunder Bay site offers drug-checking services that allow people to know what is in the substances they are using. Since October 2022, 84% of samples tested had unanticipated results; meaning that unexpected substances were present and/or expected substances were absent.

International Overdose Awareness Day acknowledges the profound grief felt by families and friends whose loved ones have died or suffered permanent injury from an overdose. The campaign recognizes it is a time to remember and a time to act.

How you can take action today to prevent overdose deaths:

International Overdose Awareness Day is a call to action to reduce stigma, discuss and implement evidence-based drug policy and overdose prevention strategies. Will you answer the call?

Data Sources

1Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). (2023). Quarterly Public Health Unit Opioid Mortality Reports: May 2017 to March 2023 [unpublished data table]. Toronto, ON: King’s Printer for Ontario.

2Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner. (2023). Opioid Toxicity Deaths in Ontario. [Received June 5, 2023; extracted May 4, 2023].


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For more information:
Health Unit Media
NorWest Community Health Centres: or (807) 622-8235
DEK Foundation:

More information on International Overdose Awareness Day can be found at

News Type
News Releases
Health Topics
Alcohol & Other Drugs