"International Overdose Awareness Day" in short IOAD 2019 is dedicated to a drug overdose. The project as such has been run by the Pennington Institute in Australia for many years.

To maximize our impact renounced artist Penny produced a poster for IOAD 2019 in 10 different languages so it can be read all over the Europ and the world. We collected proposals on an online platform and the process itself was based on the direct involvement of all.

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Overview of Project:

EuroNPUD is working with drug user groups in eleven countries to plan activities around International Overdose Awareness Day on 31 August 2019. The campaign includes x complementary components:

  • Naloxone Saves Lives Poster produced as a collaboration between artist Penelope Rose Cowley and organisers from the participating country drug user groups. 

  • Video personal testimony campaign – YouTube campaign celebrating the life-saving qualities of Naloxone. 

  • Small Grants and Coordinated Country Activities - €450 grants given to support country advocacy activities tailored to fit the country context. 

  • Advocacy Briefing – different countries have different levels of access to Naloxone and advocacy needs to be targeted to address the different country contexts. The Advocacy Brief addresses the advocacy asks and messages relating to four different levels of access to Naloxone. 

Partnership with International Overdose Awareness Day and Support Don’t Punish – linking our campaigns to maximise our advocacy impact.

Background to Project:

The world is facing a global opioid overdose crisis linked to the the contamination of the illicit heroin supply with the very strong opioid fentanyl and the increased vulnerability of people who inject drugs as they get older and particularly if they don’t have access to opioid substitution therapy.  

We cannot ignore the political backdrop to the current opioid overdose crisis. Prohibition creates an environment within which the neglect of people who use drugs is legitimized. It places control of the drug supply system in the hands of terrorists and organized crime and ensures that the vast majority of public resources are spent on counternarcotics, policing and prisons. 

Access to opioid substitution therapy’s like methadone and buprenorphine provides people dependent on opioids the chance to break free from the daily struggle to raise money to manage opioid dependency and the associated legal, health and social issues.  Opioid substitution therapy (OST) is an important tool in combatting the opioid overdose crisis.  

NALOXONE is a key tool for combatting opioid overdose. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist drug which works by binding so strongly to the opioid receptors in the brain that the opioids are pushed out for twenty minutes. This allows the brain to keep functioning and vitally to keep sending messages to the lungs to keep breathing. This twenty-minutes reprieve allows the ambulance to arrive and for a life to be saved. 

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Advocacy for Naloxone is needed to ensure that people who use opioids and our allies are able to access, carry and use this live saving medication.

Features of EuroNPUD International Opioid Overdose Day 2019 Campaign:

EuroNPUD International Opioid Overdose Day 2019 Campaign includes a number of different components:

Small grant campaign to support Coordinated Country Campaigns:

€450 grants were provided to ten country drug user groups in the European Union and its neighbourhood to support local advocacy activities that highlight the life-saving quality of Naloxone. 

  • Sweden – public event in the city of Örebro, Sweden’s sixth largest city bringing together people who use drugs and families and friends of those lost to opioid overdose to call for more humane and effective drug policies.  

  • Greece – distributing Naloxone among active opioid users in Athens and running a public advocacy event in the evening highlighting the life-saving qualities of Naloxone.

  • UK – drug users from West Country Respect in Bath will launch a peer-to-peer naloxone distribution scheme running the first training on 31 August. 

  • Germany – 20 cities will collaborate in IOAD events supported by drug user groups from the JES network and also involving allies. 

  • Italy – ItaNPUD will produce two flyers on the risk of overdose – one targeting opioid users and the other focussing on other types of drugs. These will be distributed through allies in drug services in Rome, Turin and Alessandria.

  • Montenegro - Ngo Link and Ngo Juventas are planning a short naloxone/OD lecture for people who inject drugs attending the Drop in Centre. The training will inform people who inject drugs about how to assess and manage an opioid overdose. They will also promote the advocacy messages through media with a press release linked to the publication of the poster. 

  • Spain / Barcelona – The Spanish campaign will run under the slogan “Stop Morts per Sobredosi” and will bring together the voices of people who use drugs, activists, academics, and editors. The event will start with an exhibition will be held with posters, books, t-shirts, from the 60s until nowadays collect within the community, followed by a presentation of a historical analysis through the media, on how overdose had been approached since 
    the arrival of the heroin in Spain. "Speaking in foil" will be a multidisciplinary conversation bringing together history, science, experiences and debate. In the afternoon, a Remembrance March will route the participants to our memorial plaque settled for the victims of the war 
    on drugs. There, a second round of testimonies will have place under the name "Injection of Reality". Music, poetry and art will start around 6pm. Radio RAVALTEP will run all day long with the participation of the community of people who use drugs of Catalonia. The event will include the distribution of Naloxone. 

  • Germany / Russian-speaking migrants - BerLUN is a drug user group based in Berlin representing the interests of people who use drugs. The BerLUN group will launch a project to find out why doctors are not more involved in overdose prevention. The video will record questions and answers from doctors, medical staff, activists and others. The theme will be accessibility of Naloxone. Naloxone can currently only be obtained in one place only in Berlin.

  • Slovenia - In Slovenia AREAL NGO will organize an workshop/training about overdose prevention at Drop-in at ŠENT-Metelkova street near OST treatment center in Ljubljana. Naloxone will be distributed thanks to peer-to-peer support of ItanPUD.

  • Bulgaria – Drug users in Bulgaria will organize an event at the park at St. Nicholas Church in Sofia. The event will include promoting the EuroNPUD IOAD 2019 posters and providing education to Bulgarian drug users about Naloxone and its life saving qualities. Information about the campaign will also be shared through the National Addiction Centre, which is the first and largest OST prescriber in Bulgaria. They will also undertake activities to highlight the challenge of accessing Naloxone in Bulgaria including video and photo advocacy. 

Naloxone Saves Lives poster

Developed as a collaboration between artist Penny Rose Cowley and drug user organisers from the ten European drug user groups receiving small grants. A Zoom video conference and then Penny’s online platform provided a space for the drug user organisers to discuss the life-saving qualities of Naloxone. Penny provided examples of images which were discussed and worked up based on the feedback from the drug user organisers. The posters are available both in a print ready format and also in formats to support sharing on social media. The posters are available in xx different languages. 

The concept for the poster is to deliver a clear and simple message that “Naloxone Saves Lives”; and to relay that message in as many languages and as widely as possible.

The depiction of the hourglass glass, is to give us a sense; that time is of the essense; and that, in that precious moment it is filled with love.

There is also a deeper meaning to this - that there is a need and urgency for access. When it is acknowledged that naloxone saves live then consequently we hope that it will be sort out to gain access and that may be difficult. There by creating a new chain of events some with challenges that will lead to saving the lives of our loved ones. This poster therefore is to educate and enthuse action.

<Download posters in different forms – print ready and to promote online etc >

IOAD 2019 Video Project:

The country partners are invited to produce a personal testimony video describing the life-saving qualities of Naloxone. This might be testimony from drug users who have saved their friends. It might be testimony from someone whose life was saved with Naloxone. It might be the story of a life lost because Naloxone wasn’t available. 

The posters include a QR code linking people to the YouTube project through the event page. Other people who use opioids and their allies are also invited to submit their own personal stories highlighting the life saving benefits of Naloxone. 

You can watch testimony videos by following this link

Upload yours testimony videos by following this link


IOAD 2019 Advocacy Brief:

Briefing document for local activists supporting advocacy to help secure improved access to Naloxone. The Advocacy Brief recognises that different countries have different levels of access. As such, it provides advocacy asks and supporting information for those advocating in countries with different levels of access to Naloxone:

Level 1 – Securing Access to Naloxone as an Essential Medicine 

Level 2 – Securing Access to Take Home Naloxone 

Level 3 – Securing Access to Peer-to-Peer Naloxone Distribution

Level 4 – Securing Access to Prescription Free Naloxone via Community Pharmacist

Advocacy brief to support local partners in the advocacy for improved access to Naloxone as a life-saving medicine.

More resources on Naloxone:

IOTOD is a key conference that takes place in Europe looking at the treatment of people with opioid dependency. They have produced a comprehensive toolkit to support people developing Take Home Naloxone programmes.

EuroNPUD developed its Naloxone Access and Advocacy Project to audit access to Take Home Naloxone. The project was trialed in the UK but provides a model for drug user groups to work with allies to understand barriers to access and to work to improve access to this life saving medication. A report describing this project is linked to the bottom of www.euronpud.net/naloxone

EuroNPUD also reviewed six examples of peer-to-peer naloxone distribution and presented these with lessons learned in a Technical Briefing on Peer-to-Peer Naloxone Distribution. This report is also linked at the bottom of www.euronpud.net/naloxone

Penelope Rose Cowley

About the Artist:

Penelope Rose Cowley is an artist, tutor and collaborator. Since 2012 she has been working with universities and organisations to bring together different partners to visualise concepts and research in participative projects for public engagement and diverse audiences.

The IOAD Poster project is one that is close to her heart for she would never have meet her husband who was saved from accidental overdose years ago with Naloxone. Collabourating with the EuroNPUD has given her hope for the future, knowing that so many passionate people are working together to save lives with Naloxone. For people do have a future and all the wonderful things that might bring.


EuroNPUD is happy to partner on this project with:


This project was made possible with funding from:

Robert Carr Fund who funded 8 of the small grants and the campaign coordination 

Project supported by an educational grant from Ethypharm UK