CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, community members came together for a flag raising in Chicopee Wednesday.
The worldwide annual campaign is held to honor those who have lost their battle with opioid addiction. It’s the first year a flag-raising has been held in Chicopee with the hopes of breaking the stigma and ending overdoses.
“To be able to have this day and give folks the opportunity to not only mourn but celebrate the folks who have passed because of overdose. It just gives them that and commemorates them.” Antonio Roman, Tapestry, Chicopee
Antonio Roman works for Tapestry, a community-based healthcare organization that provides stigma-free resources. He was among several people with informational booths about local addiction resources at the flag raising. These organizations meet people where they’re at providing person-centered care that gets to the root of the addiction.
Events like these serve as a reminder that addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can impact anyone, anywhere. One counselor of Healthcare Resource Centers, an outpatient opioid addiction treatment program in Chicopee, told 22News she’s seen that in her line of work, and also in her own personal life.
“Addiction doesn’t have an age limit, it doesn’t have a gender, it doesn’t have anything, it doesn’t really choose.” Samantha Longo, Counselor at Healthcare Resource Centers in Chicopee
That’s why prevention is so crucial. While there are outreach efforts currently in place, city leaders are working on building preventive programs so that overdoses don’t happen.
Chicopee Mayor John Vieau says the city will have this flag raised each year until the battle against addiction is over.