COLUMBUS, Miss.– The Mississippi University for Women’s Counseling Center has partnered with Stand Up, Mississippi for International Overdose Awareness Day Wednesday, Aug. 31.

International Overdose Awareness Day Logo

Stand Up, Mississippi is a statewide initiative of the Department of Mental Health that is focused on ending the opioid crisis in the state and lessening the stigma associated with the disease of addiction. In partnership with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the goal is to educate Mississippians about the dangers of using opioids and to help those who need substance abuse treatment.

Debbie Wells, director of The W’s Counseling Center, said her office will have an information table in the lobby of the dining center that will help people understand what drugs look like. She and members of her staff also will wear purple, which is the official color of addiction recovery.

The W President Nora Miller said it is important everyone on campus comes together to raise awareness about addiction because nearly 92,000 individuals in the United States died from a drug-related overdose in 2020.

“Raising our students’ awareness of the dangers of drug overdose, in particular from street drugs that may be laced with fentanyl, is extremely important,” Miller said. “Students need to know the resources that are available in case of overdose or for help with drug dependency.”

Wendy Bailey, executive director of the State of Mississippi’s Department of Mental Health, said just two grams of fentanyl, which is about the size of a few grains of salt, can kill an unsuspecting user. She hopes International Overdose Awareness Day brings attention to the fact that there has been an alarming spike in the number of drug overdose deaths in recent years, and that many of the deaths are young people.

“We need all the help we can to spread the message that one pill can be deadly, and the best way to prevent an overdose is avoid taking any – unless prescribed by a licensed professional,” Bailey said. “The good news is recovery is possible, and if we work together, we can decrease the number of opioid overdoses and overdose-related deaths in our state.”

In an effort to combat the deadly risks of taking opioids and other medications that haven’t been prescribed, activities on International Awareness Day will involve handing out educational materials and local addition resources, posting flyers with helpful information around campus, encourage students to wear purple and to invite speakers or local government leaders to attend a rally.

For more information about those resources, go to

The W’s Counseling Center is located on 11th Street South and Fourth Avenue South. It provides a wide range of services to students enrolled at The W. If a student is experiencing stress, having difficulty adjusting to student life, struggling to create or maintain peer/family relationships or needs an objective point of view regarding a decision or issue in their life, the counseling center staff can help. To contact the center, please call (662) 329-7748.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.