Standing strong for awareness of drug abuse

Communities remember lost lives

WARREN — Local communities came together to remember those who have lost their lives to drug addiction as part of the International Overdose Awareness Day.

Trumbull County Strong hosted its third annual program and candlelight vigil Friday at Courthouse Square in remembrance of victims.

Trumbull County ranks high for overdose deaths in recent years with 135 deaths in 2017.

Elizabeth Beckley, one of the organizers, told more than 50 people at the event that everyone came together to remember loved ones and to help families who have lost a loved one to an overdose.

She said the goal is to raise awareness and reduce the stigma that surrounds drug-related deaths.

“We do not believe in the shame and stigma of addiction. Addiction is no different than any other diseases that somebody should have,” Beckley said, noting too many people have died.

Various speakers shared their personal stories and testimonials of what they faced with a loved one being addicted. There also was musical performances.

Congressman Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, who attended with his family, said there are many people who have gone through much pain.

“We can take that pain and turn it into a purpose of helping others,” he said.

Ryan praised the many first responders and firefighters who attended.

“In Washington D.C. this is one issue that we have all been able to come together on and address. We are looking at ways to deal with this epidemic and get people the help they need,” Ryan said.

Ryan said there are many people fighting to help make a difference.

“This issue is very complicated on so many levels. The drug issue is almost everywhere in our country. There is a lot of work ahead of us,” Ryan said.

He told those there they have the power to move the country in the right direction.

“I will be your voice in Washington D.C. and work to get you the help you need,” Ryan said.

In Mahoning County, OhioCAN Mahoning County coordinated an event at Unitarian Universalist Church in Youngstown.

Luminaries and candles were lit for those who have died of an overdose.

Event organizers said 72,000 lives were lost last year in the U.S and about 5,000 in Ohio alone in 2017.