HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Tuesday is International Overdose Awareness Day. Here in Connecticut, lawmakers and family members who have lost someone to the opioid crisis marked the day outside the Capitol building.
An observance event took place on the south lawn of the state Capitol around 11 a.m. Tuesday where Governor Ned Lamont was in attendance.
The statistics are sobering. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic is the ongoing opioid epidemic.
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.
Last year in Connecticut, nearly 1,400 lives were lost to drug overdoses. A shocking 14.5 percent increase from the year before. And that upward trend is expected to continue.
The event featured speakers with lived experience, as well as state leaders. There were 1,374 flags planted on the Capitol lawn to remember the lives lost to overdose in Connecticut last year.
“Every one of those flags has a story,” said John Lally. Lally’s story is about his son Timothy.
“He developed depression and severe anxiety to the point where he had trouble getting out of bed. There’d be mornings he’d be crying in bed,” Lally said.
John Lally and his wife tried everything. Drug rehab, counselors, nothing could save 29-year-old Timothy Lally from going over the edge of the opioid abyss.
“He could no longer think clearly. His brain was altered, his reasoning, his judgment, his impulse control was destroyed by these opiates,” Lally said.
Timothy overdosed and was pulled from life support.
“We’re going to win this war and we’re going to win it together,” said Governor Ned Lamont.
State lawmakers passed a law to start a program called a Navigator Coach. It helps those in crisis to recover.
Emergency Department Recovery Coach Dimitri Bakes, a recovering addict, now helps connect users to services.
“It is our responsibility and obligation as human beings to reach our hand and help pull the next person back up,” Bakes said.
Officials say overdose of prescription opioid painkillers killed 94,000 people nationwide.
These parents say stop the stigma and help.
“We care and we’re not gonna turn our backs,” Lally said.