From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Let’s gather to recognize the lives of Idahoans who have died from an overdose

August 25, 2023
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

In 2022, 381 Idaho residents died from an overdose.

On Thursday, Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. I’ll join the Department of Health and Welfare’s Drug Overdose Prevention Program at the Idaho Capitol to help honor those we’ve lost, and to raise awareness for those we can still help. Please join us for this special International Overdose Awareness Day event.

International Overdose Awareness Day

  • Thursday, Aug. 31
  • 10 a.m. MT
  • Idaho State Capitol, second floor rotunda

Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest campaign to remember lives lost to fatal overdose. Communities across the globe will gather to remember those who have died from an overdose, discuss opportunities to reduce drug-related harms, save lives, and promote healthier communities.

This year’s event at the Capitol will highlight stories of loss, hope, and compassion. The event will feature first-hand accounts and information about how the overdose epidemic is affecting communities in Idaho from people who are in recovery and who support people in recovery.

There will be 381 picture frames with silhouettes of individuals placed on the steps toward the entrance of the Capitol to represent the Idaho residents who died from an overdose in 2022.

Overdose deaths are increasing in Idaho

Overdose deaths continue to increase in Idaho. From 2020 to 2022, there was a 33% increase in all drug overdose deaths.

Idaho has also seen an increase in fentanyl-related overdoses and overdose deaths. Also from 2020 to 2022, the rate of fentanyl-related overdose deaths tripled in Idaho—with approximately 49% overdose deaths involving fentanyl.

An overdose can happen to anyone

An overdose occurs when a drug is stronger than a person’s tolerance. Tolerance is how the body responds to varying levels of drugs.

Idaho has seen an increase in fentanyl-related overdoses. With higher amounts of illegal fentanyl within street drugs, anyone who uses street drugs is at risk for fatal and non-fatal overdose.

Due to fentanyl’s strength, small amounts of the drug can result in non-fatal overdose or overdose death. This leaves people with low tolerance levels, such as recreational drug users, at risk for overdose.

In Idaho, fentanyl is often found in counterfeit pills made to look like prescription pills such as oxycodone or Xanax. Pills containing fentanyl are often purchased illegally through social media and e-commerce websites. Pills purchased outside of licensed pharmacies may contain deadly amounts of fentanyl. 

Overdose death is preventable: what you can do to protect yourself and loved ones

Talk to your loved ones about their substance use. If loved ones are using drugs that are not prescribed by a doctor, guide them toward resources to help reduce harm.

Get naloxone. One of the key ways to protect yourself and loved ones is to obtain doses of naloxone. Naloxone is the medication that reverses an opioid overdose. It is safe and effective to  use during a suspected overdose. Naloxone is available in two forms—nasal spray and injectable. Naloxone nasal spray is known by the brand names, Narcan and Kloxxado. Narcan, Kloxxado, and injectable naloxone are available through pharmacies and community organizations.


I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend! 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

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