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'To remember loved ones in a meaningful way': Fairfield to hold Overdose Awareness Day vigil

OVERDOSE Vigil
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Cathy Hazlett (above) is the program director of the Fairfield CARES Community Coalition. In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day, the Fairfield Health Department, the police department and Fairfield CARES will co-host the fifth annual Fairfield International Overdose Awareness Day vigil in person on the Sherman Town Green, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Aug. 31 marks International Overdose Awareness Day, which Fairfield will observe once again to raise awareness of the public health crisis.

The town's fifth annual vigil will be held at 7 p.m. on the Sherman Town Green and is a space to remember people lost to an overdose, as well as those in recovery or people struggling with addiction.

The Fairfield Health Department, the police department and the Fairfield CARES Community Coalition will co-host the vigil.

Cathy Hazlett, Fairfield CARES program director, said the vigil is an opportunity to share memories and create a community of recovery.

“The whole point is to remember loved ones in a non-judgmental way,” she said.

Last year, drug overdoses led to the deaths of more than 100,000 people in the U.S.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health reported 1,531 confirmed overdose deaths in the state last year. That’s an 11.4% increase compared with 2020.

Hazlett noted that it’s important to break the stigma surrounding substance use disorders.

“I think a lot of people create these false impressions of people who are really struggling,” she said. “Nobody wants to be addicted to substances.”

Hazlett said that the work means a lot since her own family has a history with substance use.

“That has really driven me to want to prevent that experience for others, and particularly youth,” she said.

The Fairfield CARES Community Coalition has a special focus on substance misuse and fostering social and emotional wellness and resilience among youth, young adults and families. Hazlett said the organization also offers education surrounding fentanyl and distributes test strips in addition to holding Narcan training.

Visit fairfieldct.org/fairfieldcares to find treatment resources.

Michayla Savitt is a reporter at WNPR. She was a newsroom intern in summer 2022, covering the environment, among other issues. Prior to that, Michayla was a production intern for WNPR's talk shows. She is an alumna of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism health & science reporting program. Additionally, Michayla has worked in various non-profit and commercial radio newsrooms.