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It's International Overdose Awareness Day
Overdose Awareness Day ribbon logo
Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. A web search turns up the many announcements and articles and editorials that have been published about it.

Pete Guither at Drug WarRant sums up our main take on drug overdoses:

Accidental overdoses have quadrupled since 1990, and more than 26,000 Americans die every year.

Prohibition has done absolutely nothing to address this problem, and, in fact, has been a significant contributor to these deaths. Almost all accidental overdoses for heroin, for example, are directly attributable to the lack of certainty of purity/dosage of the drug, which stems from the government letting criminals supervise heroin's manufacture and distribution.

As Pete points out, though, we don't just want to talk about the harms of prohibition (which might take more than a few months to get rid of), we are also about taking steps to make prohibition less destructive of life in the meanwhile. Music industry executive and drug policy reformer Jason Flom pointed out some much-needed steps in the New York Post this week:

Most of these deaths are easily preventable. The solutions are no mystery, and two stand out as no-brainers.

The first is expanding access to naloxone -- a cheap, non-narcotic, generic drug proven to reverse the effects of opiate overdose and restore breathing. If we can make it easier to get, we’ll prevent thousands of deaths each year.

The other is passing "911 Good Samaritan" laws. New York last month became the fourth state to allow people to call 911 when witnessing an overdose without fear of prosecution.

Drug Policy Alliance has a web site section devoted to International Overdose Awareness Day, including event listings and links to resources.

On our site you can find our category archives on Overdose Prevention, Harm Reduction and Overdoses, and a listing of state bills in 2011 related to harm reduction. (We are still working on our bills list -- let us know of anything not there yet.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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It would be nice to see how

It would be nice to see how many deaths are a result of illegal drug use and how many are from legal prescription drugs. Does having an adverse reaction to a drug and dying from it count as an overdose? I am pretty sure that is happening all over the world courtesy of man made drugs.

The Shocking Death Toll of Marijuana

That's right there are zero deaths in the category of marijuana. That is what is so shocking. It is time for a summit of our best and brightest (hint: Masthead) to bring public awareness of just how misunderstood and under appreciated this substance truly is. Firstly, those who are for marijuana legalization cover the gamut of thoughts and emotions, and we collectively should not allow this fact set us off on tangents. We must stay on point and use unassailable fact to carry the day in a public forum. Those against legal marijuana know it does not take much to get us fighting among ourselves, and I see this happening time and again. Anyone familiar with the Colorado initiative knows exactly what I am referring to. Prohibition can not, does not, and will not work. The government can keep the budget allocations, there is surely enough violent crime that needs addressed. Let's get some lobbyists who are very successful, such as those who pushed ethanol in gasoline down our throats, to push our agenda. We need to unite and have marijuana legalized on a National level. No distractions, no infighting, and no excuses. Let's pull together and make marijuana legally accessible. We can take care of the fine points after we cross this bridge that has proven itself to be quite difficult to cross. And do not forget:

"The government's line is that the use of marihuana leads to more dangerous drugs. The fact is the lack of marihuana leads to dangerous drugs." - Dr. David Smith, Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic

"Get'er done!" - Larry the Cable Guy

Include mention of the #1 top-killing overdose

Chronic self-medicating with hot burning overdose carbon monoxide $igarettes is the #1 overdose killer on the planet with 6 million victims a year according to Douglas Bettcher at WHO (May 2011) and it should be mentioned here I think?

And if there is a silverbullet solution to this overdose problem (connected to other overdose problems too-- how often has $igarette smoking desensitized someone to the dangers of binge drinking?) it is to promote the art of vaporizing with a 25-mg one-hitter (cheap or easily handmade by almost anyone) to replace to 700-mg $igarette, the 500-mg joint etc.

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