Removing the stigma: International Overdose Awareness Day

Aug 31, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 2:53 pm

Image of a previous "A Light to Remember" event in Tooele, Utah. Today is International Overdose Aw...

FILE: A previous "Light to Remember" event in Tooele, Utah. (USU)


SALT LAKE CITY — Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, and advocates in Utah say the negative stigma around recovery is changing.

Patrick Cox with the Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness program said the shifting view means more people are able to ask for help.

“If people can be viewed as someone who has a substance use problem as opposed to a substance abuse problem, there’s a lot more potential hope,” Cox said.

“People are more understanding, less scared, less unaware of both mental health and substance use issues which oftentimes coincide.”

Additionally, Cox said it’s important to continue to talk about these issues so more people can get the help they need. This is an issue that impacts families year-round.

As stigma gives way to understanding, Cox said, “More people are willing to stand up and say I have a problem.”

Cox added, “Addiction isn’t a choice. It’s an evolving process within the brain from the first chemical introduction. This can impact anybody.”

Raising awareness

In recognition of the day, Gov. Spencer Cox requested flags to be flown at half-staff on Aug. 31. 

Additionally, the Weber-Morgan Health Department is hosting an event Thursday at 7 p.m. to increase awareness called “A Light to Remember” at the USU Botanical Garden.  The event also honors those lost to addiction and recognizes the grief experienced by family and friends. 

In a press release, Maren Wright Voss, USU Extension health and wellness professor said just like a cancer walk, “A Light to Remember” allows communities to unite, show support, and receive education.

“In remembering those we have lost, we remember why we need to make things different for our future mothers, fathers, children, and friends,” she said. 

Other communities hosting luminary celebrations on Aug. 31 include:

  • Cache/Box Elder counties – Cache County Fairgrounds, Logan, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Carbon/Emery counties – Huntington State Park, Huntington, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Salt Lake County – Utah State Capitol south steps, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Duchesne County – Central Park Pavilion, Roosevelt, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Grand County – Rotary Park, Moab, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Weber County – Ogden Botanical Gardens, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Sevier County – Richfield City Park, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • South Salt Lake County – Wheeler Historic Farm, Murray, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Washington County – Utah Tech University, St. George, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Tooele County – Stansbury Park Clubhouse, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Editors note: This article has been changed to reflect that the Weber-Morgan Health Department is hosting the “A Light to Remember” event.

Contributing: Amie Schaeffer





We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Agriculture officials said the fire most likely started after a piece of equipment malfunctioned at...

Emma Keddington and Simone Seikaly

Equipment malfunction suspected after fire at Utah egg farm

A 21,000 square foot barn at Oakdell Egg Farms quickly caught fire when a power washer caught fire.

3 hours ago

FILE: An arson investigation is underway after several suspicious fires in Salt Lake City on Tuesda...

Britt Johnson

Salt Lake City Fire conduct arson investigation Tuesday morning

An arson investigation is underway after several suspicious fires in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.

5 hours ago

Ahead of the NHL to Utah party on Wednesday, Utahns crowded the plaza of the Delta Center and waite...

Simone Seikaly, Eric Cabrera, Emma Keddington, Adam Small

Utahns showing up for the NHL in Utah

Ahead of the NHL to Utah party, Utahns crowded the plaza of the Delta Center and waited in long lines for the party to start.

7 hours ago

Two proposals — one aimed at students attending schools on F1 visas and the other targeting all a...

Amy Donaldson

Big changes proposed for Utah high school sports involving local, international students

Proposals involving F1 visas and athletic transfers were approved Wednesday by the executive committee of the Utah High School Activities Association.

7 hours ago

Utahns were reunited with their cat after they accidentally shipped it to California with an Amazon...

Eliza Pace, KSLTV.com

Utahns reunited with pet cat they accidentally shipped with Amazon return

A Utah couple got the surprise of their life when they got a call that their missing pet cat was found in Los Angeles in an Amazon box.

9 hours ago

Smoke billows into the morning sky following the detonation of dynamite that was inside of a Hollad...

Adam Small

Neighbor reacts to detonation of old dynamite found in Holladay home

After crews detonated old dynamite that was found on Tuesday, one neighbor shared his reaction.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Removing the stigma: International Overdose Awareness Day