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Dozens gather to remember lives lost to addiction

| August 31, 2023

People line up to ring a bell in memory of lost loved ones during Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day ceremony. (WJER Radio)

 NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Aug. 31, 2023) – There was a somber gathering on the square Wednesday evening to remember everyone we’ve lost to drug use.

Representatives from the Tuscarawas County Addiction Task Force and member agencies led an Overdose Awareness Day tribute on the plaza in front of the courthouse. ADAMHS Board Executive Director Natalie Bollon was pleased with how many people came out for the event, which she says never would have taken place a decade ago because of the stigma surrounding addiction.

“Addiction thrives when we allow quiet shame. But when a community is able to talk about addiction, we can talk about resources. We can talk about the barriers that lead to ongoing addiction. And, therefore, we can change the stigma and help more people get into services.”

Nicole Bache is the director of nursing at the New Philadelphia Health Department. She struck a bell nine times – once for each Tuscarawas County resident who died from an overdose in the first six months of 2023 – and invited anyone who had lost someone to substance use to come up and do the same.

Recovery Coach Erik Fredrickson speaks during Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day ceremony. (WJER)

“May the tolling of the bell not only remember those we have lost but also inspire us to stand united against the challenges of addiction, working to prevent more lives from being cut short.”

Overdose survivor turned recovery coach Erik Fredrickson traveled from Florida back to his hometown to share his story and encourage attendees to take a stand in the battle against addiction.

“Every single one of us can make an impact. This amount of people right here is enough people to transform this entire community.”

The event also kicked off the latest installment of Project Hope, the initiative that places wooden silhouettes in town squares throughout the county to draw attention to the drug crisis we’re facing and promote local recovery resources. The displays will remain up through the end of National Recovery Month in September. 


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