Guildford-based charity back day to combat drug-use stigma

"I know from experience that it is a miserable existence and you don't have to live that way anymore", Zimmer said.

When Jenkins heard the number of suspected overdose deaths for August, she shook her head.

"I look out and see parents and mothers of those who have lost children or friends to this awful disease of addiction", Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said. It's not just on person. Her grief is still raw two years after her son Billy died of an overdose when he was 30 years old. Organized by nonprofits No Longer Silent and the Suncoast Harm Reduction Project, those gathered prayed before walking along 14th Street West.

At the vigil, representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency, people in recovery and family members shared their stories - including Derry Town Council chairman Joshua Bourdon, who will be eight years sober in a few weeks.

Later, on Thursday evening, a candlelight vigil was held at Saint Peter's Episcopal Church in Brentwood.

A crowd of people with signs and candles honored loved ones in Millville on Thursday night as others in Ventnor wore white in remembrance of their mothers, fathers, children, nieces, nephews, partners, neighbors, co-workers and others who lost their battles with addiction.

Lou Rainaldi lost his niece. "We lost Amber to an accidental overdose on June, 4 2015", Rainaldi said. Dealers are now putting fentanyl in their heroin causing an even greater threat to the drug user.

Lapointe said that about 90 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths happen inside, and that more than half of those happen in private homes.

Toledo was among the many people who walked away on Thursday with a Narcan kit and knowledge how to use it.

"At the end of the day, we love eachother, we love him, and for us to keep Tyler in Jake's spirit and being we do so many outings with him, we make sure we wear our shirts, and he remembers his dad's face", said Tyler's aunt, Angie Dzaman.

"We just want people to know how common a problem that overdoses have become in our country", said Griffin.

Rainaldi agrees, and while it's too late for Amber, he thinks a change in thinking can save lives.

"They're not used to it, so their bodies take a much bigger hit and are much more likely to go and be overdosed", Phil Costello from the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center said.

  • Joanne Flowers