Eleftheria Square will be symbolically lit in purple on Tuesday evening to honour International Overdose Awareness Day, to pay tribute to those who lost their lives to overdose and recognise the grief and loss of their loved ones, the Cyprus National Addictions Authority (NAAC) said in a written announcement.

Research by the NAAC’s monitoring unit showed that 300 drug-related deaths have been recorded in Cyprus since 2004, of which 150 were fatal overdoses.

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)’s latest European Drug Report, some 5,141 overdose deaths were recorded in the EU in 2019, marking a 3 per cent increase from 2018.

Opioids, including heroin, often in combination with other substances, were present in three quarters (76 per cent) of fatal overdoses reported in the EU, the report stated.

The NAAC’s mission is to prevent drug-related deaths in Cyprus through a number of targeted actions and measures for prevention, treatment, harm reduction and social reintegration.

The next step is raising awareness and training both first responders and family members in the use of naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversing medication.

Initiated in 2001, International Overdose Awareness Day is “the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind”. It is held annually on the 31st of August.