International Overdose Awareness Day draws sizable crowd

Published on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 17:09


BRISTOL – International Overdose Awareness Day drew a sizeable crowd to Brackett Park on Monday, despite concerns over covid-19.

The Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services hosted the event, together with the Drug Free Communities BEST (Bristol Eliminating Substance Abuse Together) program and the Mayor’s Opioid Task Force to recognize and address the tragic reality of drug overdose.

“International Overdose Awareness Day is observed in communities across the world on the 31st of August every year,” said Program Coordinator Jenelle Howard. “The focus of the day is to create better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.”

Howard also stated that the day went well.

“I would say we had between 40 and 50 people coming to get supplies and ask about resources. So we had a great turnout, especially for it to be still Covid, with people skeptical about being in spaces with people they don’t know or with larger than normal crowds for this timeframe,” Howard said.

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu issued a proclamation in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, which stated in part “that the people affected by overdose are our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters and are deserving of our support and compassion” and “substance misuse is not a moral failing, but a complex and treatable disease, and a life of recovery is possible…”

Domenick Galarneau spoke about being in long term addiction recovery. Galarneau is now an emergency department recovery coach for Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery.

Howard said she and Project Associate Thomas Fulton spoke how they want the Bristol community to have access to local resources “if they need any support for themselves or their family members or anyone close to them when it comes to substance misuse or abuse.”

The event included tributes written to honor loved ones lost to drug overdose, some of which were attached to balloons which were released. An overdose Remembrance Quilt, for which community members could create a square in memory of their loved ones, was on display.

The Change the Script Resource Van was handing out medication lockboxes and disposal kits along with other substance use-related resources and materials. Change the Script is a Connecticut-based prescription drug misuse prevention campaign funded by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

“The number of people who died in Connecticut from drug overdoses in 2019 was the most the state has recorded in a single year, the majority of which involved fentanyl and/or fentanyl analogues,” Fulton has said.

Zoppo-Sassu said, “We have done this event for the last few years and I think it is an important milestone for people to reflect upon the lives we have lost – in 2019 it was 27 – and commit ourselves to continuing awareness initiatives so we can promote recovery and community partnerships, such as the one in place between Bristol Health and the police department, as well as the dozen social service and nonprofit groups that participate on our Opioid Task Force.”

“For next year we’re hoping it could be more interactive,” Howard said. “We know because of Covid we couldn’t plan it the way we wanted to, however next year we’re hoping we could do something a little larger and we do hope to see it become an annual celebration within Bristol.”

For more information, contact Howard at 860-584-6160 or

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or


Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 17:09. Updated: Tuesday, 1 September 2020 17:15.