Remembrance Candlelight Vigil held to honor victims on International Overdose Awareness Day


KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – International Drug Overdose Awareness Day is August 31. In Sullivan County, community members came together Monday to honor those who lost the battle against addiction.

Law enforcement and top prosecutors are increasingly concerned about the soaring number of drug overdoses and deaths in the Tri-Cities region.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Drug Related Death Task Force reported that since March 1, 97 overdoses were reported in Sullivan County, of those, 22 resulted in death. That means, on average, that amounts to one overdose death per week, according to the TBI.

Fittingly, on International Overdose Awareness Day, the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition teamed up with the state of Tennessee’s Celebrate Recovery religious 12-step addiction recovery program, for a ‘Remembrance Candlelight Vigil.’

“Overdose awareness day is really in memory of those who have lost their lives to overdose, but we also want to spread the message that recovery is possible and overdose is preventable,” Shaunna Mellons with the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais.

Mellons said that she suffered an overdose in April 2015, and she has walked the path of recovery ever since.

“It’s very disheartening to know that this disease takes so many lives, because the people that I know in recovery are wonderful human beings,” she added.

The vigil offered a platform for those grieving to share memories of the loved-ones lost to overdoses.

Many who attended the vigil are still grieving, even years after losing those loved-ones.

One of those is Jane Ann Carico, the TN state representative for Celebrate Recovery. She told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais that she suffers from depression and co-dependency.

“It is important for community to come together have awareness to overdose and prevention, but more than that just to love each other, just to love each other through this, to come together with family and friends, and have that support, have that understanding and a place that you can be okay,” she said.

Some resources available for those struggling with addiction:

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