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Vigil aims to increase overdose awareness

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

With drug overdose deaths quadrupling over the past two decades, two organizations are holding a candlelight vigil later this month to raise awareness of the drug overdose issue.

New River Valley Community Services is joining forces with “The Face of Addiction is Mine,” a public awareness campaign, to host a vigil Aug. 31 — International Overdose Awareness Day. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Bissett Park gazebo in Radford.

According to Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose deaths in the United States have increased from around 18,000 in 1999 to more than 72,000 in 2017.

Overdose deaths used to primarily be linked to illicit drugs. However, abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opioid-based painkillers, has escalated overdose deaths attributed to opioids from about 3,000 in 1999 to around 30,000 last year.

As such, the face of addiction has changed to the professional at the adjacent desk, the neighbor next door and the politician on your television screen.

According to Mike Wade, communications and outreach coordinator for NRVCS, over 100 people turned out last year vigil for the agency’s first vigil.

He urges New River Valley citizens to come out for the free event, which includes a brief program with remarks from treatment providers, public health officials and members of the community who have been impacted by opioid abuse and overdose. Candles will be provided for participants.

Those who are interested, but unable to attend, can watch a livestream of the vigil on the Facebook page of “The Face of Addiction is Mine.”

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