Central Nicosia’s Eleftheria square will be lit up lilac on Thursday evening to commemorate International overdose awareness day.

The initiative has been jointly organised by the Cyprus Addiction Treatment Authority (AAEK) and the Nicosia municipality.

In addition, workers from the “CareZone” mobile harm reduction unit will be in Eleftheria square between 6:30pm and 9:30pm to give information to the public about the issues of drug addiction and overdoses.

The theme of this year’s International overdose awareness day is “recognising people who go unnoticed”, with the aim of raising awareness of people whose lives have been altered by overdoses.

These can include families and friends grieving the loss of loved ones who died due to overdoses, as well as health professionals and support services.

AAEK says it aims to “reduce the stigma of substance-related deaths and to create a climate which promotes the reduction of harms associated with the use of addictive substances”.

The European monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction (EMCDDA) says that there were at least 6,166 drug overdose deaths in the European Union in 2021. These include deaths due to overdoses on illegal drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, and alcohol.

In Cyprus, there have been 165 drug overdose deaths since 2004. Five of those came last year, with all five coming due to the use of stimulants.