Candlelight vigil remembers those lost to drug overdose

JACKSON, Tenn. — August 31 is designated as International Overdose Awareness Day, and a few Jackson organizations partnered to host a candlelight vigil in Unity Park.

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“All over the nation we are remembering people we lost to overdose and bringing awareness to what overdose is and how it affects our communities,” says Sarah Mays, a Hybrid Lifeline Peer project coordinator with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Family, friends and loved ones filled Unity Park in downtown Jackson to reflect on those who lost their lives due to a drug overdose or drug use.

“A lot of times with situations there are stigmas, stigma is tied to things and stigma is damaging, it’s a disgrace for a particular person or a particular situation, so we have to watch what we’re saying because every person matters every word matters” says City of Jackson Recreation Manager Bridgett Parham.

Since 2020, drug overdoses in West Tennessee have increased. At the vigil some attendees shared their story on the road to recovery. Boris Shelton, also known as “Bobo,” started his sobriety on June 15, 2021 and he says who he used to be isn’t who he is now.

“I used to walk these streets and roam these same streets right here in this neighborhood and all over Jackson during my addiction for my addiction and now I can walk these same streets with hope and just showing others that it’s possible to get sober,” says Shelton.

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Fortunately Shelton is able to share his story and inspire others. Although today is to raise awareness about the stigmas surrounding drug use, it’s also a day to remember those who are no longer with us.

“Whatever you need to do, get in tune with friends in recovery and just like I said, take it one day at a time, that’s my best advice if you’re trying to stop any type of addiction just go through that day, just take it one day at a time,” Shelton says.

The event ended with a song selection of “Rise Up,” while attendees remembered their loved ones.

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