A day to reflect on those lost through overdoses
FAIRFIELD — Silent reflection on those who lost their lives to addiction — as well as the sharing of powerful stories of recovery and hope — marked the second annual vigil at Sherman Green honoring International Overdose Awareness Day.
Fairfield CARES, in conjunction with the Health and Police Departments, as well as other agencies, hosted the event Friday night, one day before the official day.
“This is a time to come together,” said Santina Jaronko, the town’s health educator, “and we want to support those who have lost someone to overdose.”
Likewise, speaker Allison Kernan, now 27, who grew up in Fairfield, sought to pay homage to those who have died through addiction.
“I’m mainly doing this because my addiction started here,” she said, having attended Warde High School and later Sacred Heart University, where her disease became full blown with the use of opioids and heroin.
“Mine stemmed from mental illness that was untreated,” she said, “and severe, severe trauma, and that’s where it really started.”
Kernan recounted to the crowd how she went from being a girl in Fairfield to a homeless addict living on the streets of Bridgeport in a very short time.
“Addiction is a beast and it’s just waiting and sleeping and dying for you to do something that can wake it up,” she said.
“I guess I had that pride and stubbornness in me that I thought I could manage it, that it wouldn’t happen to me,” she said.
Fortunately Kernam found recovery and has been sober nearly four years.
“There are so many people that didn’t make it,” she said. “Each year they’re adding more.”
Kernan told the crowd of about 50 people that the key to helping people with addiction was kindness.
“You just show someone that you care and you just be kind,” she said. “You would be surprised how far that can take someone.”
Asked what she would have liked to tell herself when she was younger and beginning her arduous journey into addiction, she said she would emphasize that addiction is a disease.
“It’s not my fault,” she said, “and to just be more gentle on myself and more forgiving.”