International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held annually in August that seeks to raise awareness about overdose, reduce the stigma of addiction and drug-related deaths, and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends when someone they love is fighting a battle with their addiction.

Each year, Mercer Council – with its Prevention Coalition of Mercer County and a variety of community partners – come together to remember, support and honor those whose lives have been affected by overdose and addiction.

Mercer Council has been a pillar of prevention work in the Mercer County for over 45 years, seeking to support healthy, safe and responsible communities by creating pathways to reduce substance-related challenges, through education, advocacy, support and community partnership. As an initiative of Mercer Council, the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County seeks to bring all sectors of the community together to address substance use prevention and harm reduction through collaboration and action, and maintains this focus for International Overdose Awareness Day.

Brief History

International Overdose Awareness Day was initiated in Melbourne, Australia in 2001. Since its inception, IOAD has grown into a global movement involving numerous countries, communities, and organizations dedicated to raising awareness about overdose and reducing stigma.

In Mercer County, the International Overdose Awareness Day event was pioneered by Justine Frank, a former Chairwoman of the PCMC Board. Her personal family connection to the struggles of addiction and overdose led her to bring this powerful event to our community. Since 2016, Mercer County IOAD has been hosted by various local municipalities, and recently settled into its home at Veterans Park North in Hamilton, NJ.

Our event aims to provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones, to raise awareness about overdose and addiction, and to push for greater measures to combat this crisis through prevention, treatment, and education. We seek to remind the community that people who experience overdose are much more than that event in their lives, and to reduce the stigma surrounding the struggle with addiction and impact of overdose.

Overall, IOAD aims to encourage prevention, remembrance, support, and honor for those whose lives have been affected by addiction and overdose.

At our International Overdose Awareness Day event, guests can expect a community gathering that features a formal program with local leaders, family members and folks in recovery sharing their experiences with changing the narrative of addiction. A memorial table will be present, where loved ones may bring photos or mementos to remember loved ones who have passed away. There are family-friendly activities for children, like rock painting with members of the Youth Coalition of Mercer County. The evening ends with a Candlelight Vigil, offering a time for remembrance as event leaders share brief stories of hope in the midst of loss.

International Overdose Awareness Day is an event filled with a strong mix of solemnity, remembrance, and hope. We are deeply grateful to see the support of the community as we rally together for this event year after year, and hope to continue to grow support throughout the Mercer County community.

How to Get Involved

Join us as a guest, whether you’re coming alone or with a group! Your presence helps to amplify our message and supports the community. Registration is simple, and attending the event is a powerful way to show your support and solidarity. Please fill out the registration form at the link below. Receive a free t-shirt while supplies last!

Volunteers are crucial to the success of any community event – and at IOAD, they are essential to ensure that the evening runs smoothly and effectively. From helping to set up and tear down our event area, to assisting vendors and guests throughout the event, there are many ways to contribute. Please consider joining us as a volunteer by filling out the Volunteer Form below!

We love our vendors and exhibitors! You all are a key part of our event, providing valuable resources and information to our event attendees. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your services or informational materials and resources and engage directly with the community. If you are interested in setting up a table at our event, please register below. Please note that, in line with the nature of the Overdose Awareness event, this opportunity is primarily relevant for organizations focused on healthcare, recovery, and community supportive services.

Food Truck Vendors: Please complete the appropriate section of the Vendor sign-up form below.

Sponsorship Opportunities: Sponsorship opportunities are available for businesses and organizations that want to support our cause. As a sponsor, your organization will be prominently featured in our event materials, on our website, and during the event. Sponsoring IOAD not only shows your commitment to fighting the overdose crisis but also enhances your brand’s visibility in the community. Learn more about sponsorship levels and benefits here.

Upcoming Event Details

Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2024
Time: 5:30pm – 8:00pm
Location: Veterans Park North (Klockner Rd Entrance) – Hamilton, NJ

Join us for an evening of remembrance, support, and action. The event will feature various activities, including:

  • Guest Speakers and Awareness Campaigns: Inspiring talks from community leaders, healthcare professionals, and individuals with lived experiences.
  • Grief Recovery and Treatment Resources/Connections: Access to a comprehensive array of grief recovery resources and treatment options, with local organizations and service providers on-site.
  • Family Support Sessions: Dedicated spaces for families and loved ones affected by addiction to receive guidance and share their experiences.
  • Memorial Display & Vigil: A poignant memorial display where attendees can contribute personal mementos, photographs, or written messages, culminating in a candlelight vigil to honor those we’ve lost.
  • Narcan Demonstration: Demonstrations on how to administer Narcan, a life-saving medication that can reverse opioid overdoses.