BEE HEARD: International Overdose Awareness Day  

Photo Credit: Native Connections

Opioid addiction has been terrorizing the United States for nearly three decades. Like all communities in the country, The Southern Ute Indian Reservation has been impacted. Here at the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Center, we believe it’s important to spread awareness about how to address a community issue such as this.  

We would like to inform everyone that August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. This article will provide a brief history of the epidemic along with information about International Overdose Awareness Day.   

The early days of the opioid epidemic began as far back as the early to late 90’s, when the country saw an increase in opioid prescriptions. The introduction of the pain killer OxyContin increased the level of addiction and overdoses well into the 2000’s.  

The 2nd wave of the epidemic began in the late 2000’s, early 2010’s with the increase of heroin use and overdoses. Today the number of overdose cases is much higher due to the powerful drug fentanyl (Center for Disease Control, 2021). In 2017 the President declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” and stated, “this epidemic is a national health emergency” (CMS, 2020, np). The number of overdoses across the country has continued to increase every year.  

Opioid addiction and deaths have reached tribes across the US, Canada, and Alaska. The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in overdose deaths, with American Indian/Alaskan Natives increasing 34% from 2019 to 2020 (Baumgartner & Radley, 2021).  With COVID-19 raising other health concerns, it has been difficult maintaining awareness about the increase in overdose deaths. This problem has not gone away and will continue to get worse if we don’t continue to address it. 

International Overdose Awareness Day was first started in 2001 by a woman named Sally J. Finn from Melbourne, Australia. The purpose of the campaign has been to raise awareness about overdoses and how they not only effect the person, but also families and communities (About the Campaign, 2020).  

The goals for Overdose Awareness Day are as follows: 

  • To provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones in a safe environment, some for the first time, without feeling guilt or shame. 
  • To include the greatest number of people in International Overdose Awareness Day events and encourage non-denominational involvement. 
  • To give community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdose. 
  • To send a strong message to current and former people who use drugs that they are valued. 
  • To stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy. 
  • To provide basic information on the range of support services that are available. 
  • To prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice. 
  • To inform people around the world about the risk of overdose. (About the Campaign, 2020, np). 

To get more information about International Overdose Awareness Day, please go to their website ( where you can order wristbands or lanyards to show support and bring awareness. You can also follow them on Twitter @OverdoseDay, Instagram @overdoseawarenessday, and Facebook @InternationOverdoseAwarenessDay, along with posting #EndOverdose and #OverdoseAwareness to bring more awareness through social media.  

Please also do not hesitate to reach out to the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Center if you are struggling with addiction or have a loved one struggling with addiction. Help is out there, and we are here to support our community anyway we can. 


About the campaign. International Overdose Awareness Day. (2021, May 15). 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 17). Understanding the epidemic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Jesse C. Baumgartner and David C. Radley, “The Drug Overdose Mortality Toll in 2020 and  Near-Term Actions for Addressing It,” To the Point (blog), July 15, 2021. 

Ongoing emergencies. CMS. (2020). Information/Emergency/EPRO/Current-Emergencies/Ongoing-emergencies. 

You are ready to help create a drug-free community?

Want to help and be a part of the change?

We are looking for community members and youth to join the Prevention Coalition tasked to reduce youth substance usage, eliminate mental health stigma, and start the discussion around suicide and prevention.

For more information, please contact Precious Collins, Native Connections Program Coordinator for more information 970-563-5700 or email


FREE online Suicide Prevention Training

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) for Southern Ute Tribe Employees, and Southern Ute Tribal Members. Let’s all learn the warning signs and what to do if someone is experiencing a crisis.  

For more information, please contact Precious Collins, Native Connections Program Coordinator for more information 970-563-5700 or email  

Native American Youth Talking Circles 

A virtual space for youth to meet, talk, and share challenges and accomplishments. Peer support system for Native American Youth in 9-12 grade. 

Please contact Stephanie Garcia at 970-563-5700 or email or Lisa Pratchett at to sign up. 


  • Southern Ute Health Center – Behavior Health: 4101 County Road 222, Durango CO 970-563-5700. For local Native Americans. Call to schedule a counseling appointment.  
  • Southern Ute Division of Social Services: 116 Capote Drive, Ignacio, CO 970-563-2331 for local Native Americans needing assistance with child welfare needs and family support.  
  • 24/7 Axis Health System Care Hotline: Durango, CO You’re not alone. With our 24/7 crisis services, help is on the way. Your health… We’re in this together. 970-247-5245 
  • St Ignatius Catholic Church: Pastor Cesar Arras, 14826 CO-172, Ignacio, CO 970-563-4241. 
  • Ignacio Community Church: Pastor Randall Haynes 405 Browning Ave, Ignacio, CO (currently located inside ELHI) 970-759-3633  
  • Second Wind Fund of the Four Corners: Believes that every child and youth at risk of suicide should have access to the mental health treatment they need. We match children and youth at risk for suicide with licensed therapists in their communities, 720-962-0706. 
  • Women’s Resource Center: Creates personal, social and professional growth opportunities for all women in La Plata County, 970-247-1242. 


  • Colorado Crisis Line: 844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” to 38255. You’ll immediately be put in contact with a trained counselor, ready to text with you about anything. 
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Has both an online chat and 24/7 phone line at 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking of suicide or need help for a loved one. 
  • The Trevor Project: Seeks to serve LGBT youth, has a 24/7 suicide prevention line at 866-488-7386. 
  • WeRNative: Join the movement by liking them on Facebook (www facebook  com/weRnative), signing up for the text messaging service (text NATIVE to 24587). 



To top