EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts communities are raising awareness ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day this week.

An International Overdose Awareness event in Easthampton Monday evening, where organizations are not only trying to stop the increase in overdoses, but also trying to break the stigma around this growing issue.

Nico Alicea is a member of the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, and he is sharing his story, in hopes he can help others who are facing addiction. “I know how it feels to feel like you can’t get out and feel like nobody can help. But there are people out there who are willing to help.”

Alicea joins several other organizations in Easthampton, lending a helping hand to people and families whose lives were altered by drug addiction and overdose, raising awareness ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day, observed this Thursday.

It’s a crisis seen across the country, and right here in Western Massachusetts. Alicea adding, “The obstacles that are happening, are the lack of places for people to receive help. Also, educating everybody about what is happening, and how can we help each other.”

Opioid-related overdoses accounted for more than 2,300 confirmed and estimated deaths last year in the state.

“We need to be able to talk about this without being ashamed, without being scared, without being stigmatized,” says Peter Babineau of Learn to Cope. “It’s important that we talk about the fact that the drug supply here in Massachusetts is so drastically tainted. What we don’t hear a lot about, is how many people’s lives are being saved with Narcan.”

Data has shown Narcan, the overdose reversal drug’s effectiveness, saving about 93% of the people who received the medication.

Narcan is available at many pharmacies across the state, with or without prescriptions, and you can learn how to save a life with Narcan. A free Narcan training event will be taking place this Thursday, at the Westfield Public Library.

Local News

WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in March 1953 providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.