Manchester recovery center breaks ground on memorial park to honor those lost to drug overdose

Opioid Crisis

MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) – Tuesday marks International Overdose Awareness Day.

State leaders are spreading the message that overdoses are preventable, treatment is available, and that recovery is possible.

RELATED: State leaders holding observance event in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day

News 8’s Ken Houston visited a Manchester recovery center where they are honoring the memory of those lost to addiction. At the Root Recovery Center in Manchester, efforts are underway to remember those who have died by overdose.

“I think it was the connections lost and when you don’t have access to the connections, treatment, the use becomes more prominent,” said Steven Zuckerman, President & CEO of Roots Recovery Center.

The number of COVID-19 related overdose deaths spiked in 2020. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling it a record high. The latest figured by the CDC show that drug overdose deaths reached a record high of 93,331 in 2020, which is 20,000 more deaths than the previous year.

It’s also considered the largest single-year percentage increase on record since 1999.

For State Rep. Geoff Luxenberg, this day is personal for he and his wife.

“Unfortunately, my wife and I have lost family members to overdose,” Luxenberg said.

Damon Smith also knows the dark side of drug abuse. He’s also living proof that addiction does not have to be a death sentence.

“Coming from where I came from, I just take it one day at a time,” Smith said.

With shovels in hand, this day is being commemorated by this groundbreaking for a memorial park. Renderings show it will be peaceful and reflective.

Organizers say the project will be complete by the spring of 2022.

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