International Opioid Overdose Awareness Day: Rally held in Hartford for victims of opioid crisis

Opioid Crisis

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont declared Monday Opioid Overdose Awareness Day. In Hartford on Monday night, family members and advocates for treatment gathered for a vigil for those lost to the opioid crisis.

RELATED: International Opioid Overdose Awareness Day: Sculpture honoring those lost to addiction unveiled in Hartford; New Haven offers educational, resource event

For the people at the rally at the capitol Monday night, they are fully aware of just how bad addiction can be. All of the faces on posters in the vast circle around the capitol have been lost to an opioid overdose. In the center of the vast circle, the families living with their deaths.

Monday they came together to try and support those going through what they are going through. 

“I lost my son Michael July 17 of 2017,” Christine Gagnon said.

“My sons name is Zachary and I lost him April 10, 2018.”

“Tim passed in January 2016,” John Lally said.

People attending the rally were there for several reasons. One support group was there for parents who have lost loved ones, all of these sons and daughters and brothers and sisters, they are there to support the family members and reach out to them to let them know there is life after they lose a loved one.

Christine Gagnon of Connecticut Team Sharing said, “Us as parents, who lost somebody. It is a lot different than losing a child to cancer where someone is going to bring you a casserole. People just don’t want to touch it!”

John Lally of Today I Matter – the organization spearheading the poster project surrounding the capitol – said, “People are embarrassed and ashamed to talk about this problem in the family. And we are trying to get rid of that taboo. That’s why we are putting their faces out here; they are our loved ones and we are loud and proud!”

Each poster tells of the interests of each person featured: some were poets, artists, animal lovers. As you go down the line of posters, you learn a little bit about each victim, that they were not addicts, but people.

RELATED: Former addict uses his recovery to help others struggling with substance abuse

That is the idea at the vigil Monday, the focus on people who are recovering or are in recovery and the offering of hope that they can make it out of the addiction.

“My best day using, is nothing compared to my worst day sober. I have accomplished leaps and bounds; I’m getting my doctorate; I bought a house and I’m doing all of these amazing things and this never would’ve happened if I hadn’t gotten sober, so it is possible!” Sarah Howroyd of Manchester Hope Initiative told News 8.

But now that we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of isolation, people wearing masks staying at home and working from home. Support groups for those suffering from addiction and those suffering from the loss of a loved one from addiction have fallen apart.

Howroyd added, “I know a lot of people who are in long-term recovery who are struggling, and I know a lot of people who overdosed in the last several months. So really reach out to people you know struggle with any form of addiction. Because this is a very dangerous time for us.”

This poster project is a traveling memorial awareness campaign that was started here in Connecticut. It travels around the country.

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