Holyoke observes International Overdose Awareness Day

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Holyoke joined other western Massachusetts communities to observe International Overdose Awareness Day.

Their goal is to not only remember those who lost their battle with drugs but to also break down the stigma surrounding substance use disorder. Communities here in western Massachusetts were bringing the issue center stage as supporters wore a message that “recovery is possible.”

International Overdose Awareness Day is a worldwide campaign to end overdose and remember without stigma those who have died. Hope for Holyoke Recovery Center and other health centers held a vigil to remember those who died from overdoses. They were also spreading the word that it is affecting people now more than ever.

“In our community during the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in overdoses,” said James Maloney of the Holyoke Recovery Center. “It’s affecting our community tremendously.”

Numbers are showing that increase in the country and statewide. According to federal data, more than 93,000 Americans have died of overdoses in 2020, the highest ever recorded. More than 1,000 people died of opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts in the first half of 2021.

Workers at Tapestry Health Systems say now is the time to get rid of the drug addiction stigma.

“Before the pandemic, we were dealing with the epidemic of overdoses,” said Pedro Alvarez of Tapestry. “Do away with that stigma and humanize them. Have that open communication with folks. Bring that awareness.”

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