Vermonters will come together Wednesday night to remember relatives, friends and neighbors who died of overdoses.
The lawn of the Vermont State House in Montpelier will be the setting for a gathering at 5-7pm on Wednesday 31 August, marking International Overdose Awareness Day.
In 2021, the Vermont Department of Health recorded a record number of overdose deaths – 215 people. Most of those cases involved fentanyl, health officials have noted.
Wednesday’s gathering is presented by the Vermont Overdose Prevention Network and will feature guest speakers, music, poetry, free ice cream and stories from people affected by the overdose crisis.
Kimberly Blake, who lost her son Sean to an overdose in 2017, helped organize the event through the organization Vermont Team Sharing.
“You know, the deaths, especially with fentanyl, happen to so many people,” Blake observed in an interview with NECN. “I think it’s almost impossible not to know someone who has been affected by this epidemic of loss, so I think just by a large number of people have become more comfortable talking about it.”
Blake, a physician, said she believes society still has more work to do to break down the stigma associated with substance use disorders.
Discussion of harm reduction and other policies will be part of Wednesday’s event outside the State House, Blake indicated, but the primary purpose is to provide an opportunity to remember loved ones.
Many bereaved families have made posters showing the faces of their loved ones, which they will bring to the observance of International Overdose Awareness Day, Blake said.