Check out the article in the Saratogian here:
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.>> More than 50 people gathered on the final day of August to honor those who have died from an overdose.
August 31 served as National Overdose Awareness Day and in Congress Park, elected officials, recovery advocates and family members and friends joined together.
There was music.
There were speeches.
There were candles lit.
Maureen Provost, chair of RAIS, asked the group to shout out a person who has died from an overdose. Names were recited for over several minutes.
“The goal of this event this evening is to create a space for remembering those lost to addiction, remembering them without stigma, without judgment and without shame,” Provost said.
Provost told her story. She lost her son, Dan, to a heroin overdose in June of 2014.
“I will never have the opportunity to celebrate a Mother’s Day as a mother again. I’ll never hear I love you mom, again and with his passing we lost not only a son but also a future daughter in law and all hopes of grandchildren,” Provost said. “Our story is, unfortunately, not unique among the folks that are here this evening.
“Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters have all been lost to the scourge of dedication.”
Statistics were shared. Disease Control and Prevention estimate in 2017 overdose deaths surpassed 72,000, which represented a 9.5 increase from 2016. That means 200 overdose deaths happen each day.
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner said it’s important for anyone to have access at any time to the necessary resources.
“When they have that moment of clarity, they can access the resources they need in a caring, loving environment to begin that process of breaking the back of the disease that has them in their gripes and then they need to access the communities that exist here in Saratoga County and throughout New York State,” Woerner said.
“Communities of people in long-term recovery who can lift them, who can walk with them on the journey and can help them stay on the journey of long-term recovery. The problem is complex, but the solution is simple. We need to focus on making that solution happen.”
Provost echoed the same sentiment, drawing a round of applause.
“How about expanding access to and treatment for those with substance-use disorder when the individual is ready: not tomorrow, or the following day, or the following week,” Provost said.
The program lasted about an hour.
Brian Farr, sober for 23 years, told the group not to feel guilty about their family members in long-term recovery, or if they have lost their lives.
“What humbles me is the courage of the family members and friends that have lost someone,” Farr said.
He admitted he never envisioned himself being political, but that has since changed.
“We need to speak up,” he said. “We need to raise our voices, and we need to say that this has to change.”
Congressman Paul Tonko spoke during the vigil.
“Across this nation, there are so many who suffer from the illness of addiction and we need as a nation in policy format, as a society in caring folk, to understand that addiction is indeed an illness, and until we recognize that label we can’t go forward as effectively as we should,” Tonko said.
Tonko had a message for the family members in attendance.
“The courage, the strength, the determination, the hope that you inspire in each and every one of us is what we commemorate here this evening,” he said. “We need to keep sharing the stories, and we need to know that it’s prevention, treatment and recovery.”