Event recalls those lost to ODs

YOUNGSTOWN — A display of more than 100 shoes with the names of those who passed away from drug overdoses was displayed this weekend outside of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Youngstown for the fourth annual Walk In My Shoes.

Hope Lovrinoff-Moran, event coordinator and Ohio CAN Mahoning County coordinator, said the Steps of Change event had shoes placed around Wick Park and outside the church to remember those who passed away from opioid and other drug overdoses.

People wearing T-shirts “Together We Can Make Things Happen” walked around the park.

Lovrinoff-Moran said she wants people to start talking about harm-reducing techniques, such as implementing syringe exchange programs and providing safe places for people who use drugs. She also discussed how Narcan is used to help people.

Diana Moss, registered nurse, and Leslie Markulin, LISW-S, Mahoning and Trumbull County MOMS Program coordinators, spoke on neonatal abstinence syndrome and said they know many people who have experienced the loss of a loved one to drug overdose and others who have been struggling with drug addiction and substance-abuse disorders.

The speakers noted that opioid abuse affects all people regardless of sex, age, race or ethnicity.

Following the walk, the names of 117 people who died locally in the past year, were read aloud. Empty shoes that line the park offer a reminder of lives lost too soon, or the shoes of loved ones whose lives are forever changed by loss.

“We want to remember those we have lost to overdoses and support their loved ones who have been left behind. It is important to educate people, support and acknowledge those in recovery,” Lovrinoff-Moran said.

At the event, agencies and organizations set up tables, and throughout the day speakers shared information on ways to help reduce the opioid problem.

“It has become apparent that people in the community have no idea what harm reduction is. We bring the information to the community so they can understand harm reduction. This is a health care issue and want to treat it as such and offer the tools and resources to people. We want to lower the drug abuse death rate,” she said.

Lovrinoff-Moran said she and others work to eliminate the stigma of drugs, which often keeps people from getting help.

Event organizers said while the number of people overdosing seems to be going down, too many lives are impacted by drugs.

In Trumbull County, 82 people overdosed in the first two months of the year.

Other events during the day included Narcan training and kit distribution, speakers who discussed harm reduction methods and musical performances.