CEO Corner: International Overdose Awareness Day

To help save lives, we must end the stigma of overdose

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), an observance meant to remember the lives lost to overdose and reduce the stigma associated with a substance-related death.

Stigma is something we talk a lot about in the prevention community. Many individuals and families impacted by a substance use disorder (SUD) experience feelings of shame, guilt or anxiety – feelings that make it difficult to speak openly about SUD for fear of being judged or misunderstood.

It takes a lot of courage to break that silence. Losing someone you love is devastating – but the added heartbreak of not being able to talk about how you lost them? It’s unbearable.

I’m in awe of the grace and resilience displayed by people who have lost someone to an overdose—or who experienced an overdose themselves—and channeled their energy into raising awareness, educating their communities and sharing their stories.

Breaking down stigma allows us to talk candidly about substance use and the prevalence of overdoses, which opens up conversations about prevention, treatment and recovery support.

I often say that we’re in the business of saving lives. We know that proper disposal of unwanted medications is critical to prevent misuse and overdoses. Safely deactivating and disposing of unused drugs at home with the Deterra® System is a simple yet powerful step that anyone can take to help save lives.

SUD does not discriminate – it affects people of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic background. Our efforts cannot be limited by fear or judgement – there is too much at stake.

It’s our job to make saving lives and reducing stigma a priority. We can start today by talking honestly about substance use, sharing our stories and continuing the fight to end overdose.


CEO Jason Sundby

Jason Sundby

Chairman & CEO of Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc.