Caritas Anchor House

Working at the heart of homelessness

International Overdose Awareness Day 2017

Our News in Brief

International Overdose Awareness Day 2017

31st August 2017
International Overdose Awareness Day, held on 31 August each year, aims to spread the message that overdose death is preventable and encourages open discussion around the realities of drug and alcohol misuse.

In the UK, drug poisoning accounted for 3,744 deaths in 2016 – the highest since comparable statistics began in 1993 [1]. Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented if people received clear information about the risk factors surrounding drug use and had better access to support services.

Caritas Anchor House provides a home and support to homeless adults, 45% of whom have multiple and complex needs including drug and alcohol misuse. There are many causes of homelessness including drug misuse, but due to the high levels of stress and anxiety of having nowhere to live, some people turn to drugs as a coping mechanism.

In addition, in the London Borough of Newham – where we are based - drug use is 50% higher than the national average. In response to this need, Caritas Anchor House has a specialist Substance Misuse lead who works to strengthen the care pathways and support residents.

“Overdose Awareness Day remains an important day for the community to gain awareness about risks of overdose and what we can all do to prevent needless deaths,” said Sian Barrett, Senior Practitioner at Caritas Anchor House.

“At Caritas Anchor House, we keep an open dialogue about the dangers of overdose, using tools such as ‘Going Over’ handouts with residents, such as those with a history of drug use, and those who may have been released from prison having detoxed whilst in custody. We also work closely with Change, Grow, Live (CGL) to reduce the risks of harm to residents by supporting individuals where needed, to access specialist drug treatment and harm minimisation interventions.”

One resident Caritas Anchor House has supported in this way is Ervine. After the death of his mother, Ervine flew to Jamaica to support his family. When he returned to the UK, he found that his wife had sold their house and left.

“I took it really hard. I was soon taking drugs and I lived on the streets and sofa-surfed for about a year. I was on the brink and feeling suicidal.”

Ervine found the strength to seek support and moved into Caritas Anchor House. He focused on engaging with community treatment for his drug use with our partner CGL - a charity that provides treatment for substance use.

He also receives continued support from his Lifestyle Architect at Caritas Anchor House, who provides support and information about the risks of relapse and overdose, to help Ervine to manage his recovery. He is now abstinent from drugs, and feels confident about the future.

“If it wasn’t for Caritas Anchor House, I don’t think I would be here anymore. They have helped me get my life back and stop taking drugs. It’s a godsend.” 

Further information

Visit to find out more or download the App to learn how to recognise the signs of an overdose and what to do. If you know someone who died or was injured due to an overdose, please feel free to post a tribute here.

[1] Source:

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