The Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education, or N.O.P.E. Task Force held a candlelight vigil in Elmer Park in Sayre on Wednesday evening.
Community members gathered to remember all those who lost their battle with addiction. Words of hope were shared among recovering addicts and grieving family members. For many who spoke the fight to end the opioid epidemic has become personal.
“Five years ago I lost my son Brandon to fentanyl overdose when actually drug abuse was the scourge of the earth,” event organizer Marlene Rohe said. “So were people that were addicts and as time is going on you know we’ve become more educated.”
“Today’s actually, I have seven months clean and I was invited to perform at this and I performed at the recovery walk in Elmira about a month ago,” local hip-hop artist and recovering addict Brandon Parks said. “I’m just very passionate about being an advocate for change and trying to spread awareness about addiction.”
While many people are more aware of opiate addiction, that doesn’t mean they necessarily understand it.
“Still there’s so many people that believe that addicts bring nothing in, that they make the choices to use,” Rohe said.
“There’s a stigma attached to addiction and a lot of people think drug addicts make the choice to become the way that they are,” Parks said. “And it’s not always necessarily the case.”
But both Parks and Rohe agree that coming together as a community makes anything possible.
“So if people can come together and be supportive and show people that there’s hope to be in recovery and that there’s a better life, I think that that helps,” Parks said.
“It’s about the love and the hope and building on the future and trying to do something about the epidemic that’s overcoming our country,” Rohe said.
To learn more about treatment options through N.O.P.E. Task Force click here.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, Endless Mountains Addiction Awareness Committee (EMAAC) offers a 24-hour hotline. They can be reached at (570) 469-4014.