International Overdose Awareness Day – August 31st

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day.  It’s a day to remember the loved ones we’ve lost to overdose, but also to educate ourselves on the signs of overdose. We need to continue to bring awareness in order to prevent more deaths from overdose.

To bring awareness this year, I will be sharing information on depressant overdoses. I have several family members who have lost their lives to using depressants excessively, specifically my mother. I’ve provided links to the International Overdose Awareness Day Fact Sheets that go into detail about what to do if someone you know is showing signs of an overdose from a depressant or other types of substances. It could save their life.

What are Depressants? 

These substances are often prescribed to relieve pain, help you sleep or in the case of alcohol, used recreationally when socializing. However, when taken in excessive amounts or in combinations with other drugs, depressants can depress normal functions such as breathing and heart rate until they eventually stop, resulting in brain damage or death.

Signs of an Overdose

  • Vomiting
  • Unresponsive, but awake
  • Limp body
  • Pale and/or clammy face
  • Blue fingernails or lips
  • Shallow or erratic breathing, or not breathing at all
  • Slow or erratic pulse (heartbeat)
  • Choking or sounds of a gurgling noise
  • Loss of consciousness

How to Respond

  • Call an ambulance, tell the operator your location, and stay on the line.
  • Be prepared to give CPR if they stop breathing before an ambulance arrives.
  • Ensure the person has adequate air by keeping crowds back or opening windows. Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person is unconscious or wants to lie down, put them in the recovery position and continue to monitor them.
  • Provide paramedics with as much information as possible, such as what, and how much of the drug was taken, how long ago and any pre-existing medical conditions. If the drug came in a bottle or packet, give the packaging to the ambulance officers.

Fact Sheets

Click on any of these fact sheets to learn more about what the substances are, the signs of an overdose, and how to respond when someone is showing these signs.

History of International Overdose Awareness Day: 

“International Overdose Awareness Day was initiated in 2001 by Sally J Finn at The Salvation Army in St Kilda, Melbourne.

Since 2001, many community members as well as government and non-government organizations have held events to raise awareness and commemorate those who have been lost to drug overdose.

Since 2012, International Overdose Awareness Day has been coordinated by the not-for-profit Australian public health organization Penington Institute.” (Description from OverdoesDay website)

Get To Know Our 2021 Scholarship Recipient – Brianna Evans

We’d like to formally introduce our 2021 Scholarship Recipient, Brianna Evans. The Lisa Michelle Memorial Fund was established to assist and recognize students who have lost a parent to substance abuse. We are proud to award a $1,000 scholarship to Brie this year.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Brie Evans, and I am 21 years old. I am beginning my vet school career this fall with a current interest in exotic animals and zoo medicine. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors.

Q: Imagine yourself 10 years from now. What goals and ambitions do you have for yourself, personally, academically, and professionally?

My current goal is to finish veterinary school with an education that will lead me into an occupation I love, whether that be in exotic animals or another specialty. Past that, I wish to continue to grow and learn in both my personal life and professional life.

Q: Aside from a college degree, what do you hope to gain from your college experience?

I hope to gain life-long relationships with classmates and professors because it is through networking that I will gain valuable insight and be able to perfect my craft. The relationships I will build at Auburn University’s vet school will be greatly beneficial, and I hope to have an impact on others as well. In my field, it’s all about making connections and meeting people who are as passionate about the work as you are.

Q: What motivates you to continue working towards accomplishing your goals?

Having a good support system has played a large role in motivating me to succeed. I feel I am also self-motivated, which helps me to reach my goals. I have a drive to follow my passion, and nothing can get in the way of that. My life has given me many obstacles, but as I conquer each one successfully, I know there’s bound to be another. The fact that I continually persevere through these obstacles has always been my motivation.

Q: What advice would you give to other students who have been through circumstances similar to yours?

All I can say is it gets better, and that can apply to so many circumstances.  No matter what a person faces, you have work to make it better, and, in time, you will grow as a person and see that life is full of difficulties that shape you into the person you are meant to become. You have to be the difference in your own life if you want things to change, and, in turn, you will also affect the lives around you at the same time.