ELLSWORTH — On Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 5:30-6 p.m., Healthy Acadia’s INSPIRE Recovery Center, located at 24 Church Street, will host an International Overdose Awareness Day event to remember and honor the lives lost to overdose, and to support the families and friends impacted. A candlelight vigil will be held in the INSPIRE parking lot.  

Substance use overdoses continue to rise in Maine and across the country. In 2021, there were more than 600 deaths in Maine attributed to overdose and in the first five months of 2022, Maine saw an increase of about 10 percent. Every one of those lives was someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, child, cousin or friend. The losses are felt in the families and the communities where they lived, and have changed the face of the future for those who knew them.  

In addition to the candlelight vigil, 56 pairs of shoes will serve to represent the 56 lives lost to overdose in Hancock County from 2017-21 and a memory board will provide a space for community members to share images and remembrances of friends and loved ones lost to overdose. Community members will also speak to the impact of overdose in our community, offer a moment of silence, and Healthy Acadia will have harm reduction resources available including Naloxone and Fentanyl Test Strips. 

Naloxone (Narcan) is an opioid antagonist – it blocks opioid receptors in the brain — and while it is not guaranteed to reverse every overdose, it is the best defense. Naloxone is not harmful to anyone who is not experiencing an overdose. In fact, it would be as harmless as giving someone water – even for infants or small children.  

Sometimes stimulants like methamphetamine, and increasingly, some off-market prescription medications, are laced with fentanyl, an extremely potent and dangerous opioid that  can cause overdose. The more people who carry naloxone, the more likely there will be someone available to administer the life-saving medication if it is needed.  

Healthy Acadia is a 501(C)(3) community health organization building vibrant communities and making it easier for all people to lead healthy lives throughout Washington and Hancock counties. For more information about Healthy Acadia’s community health and wellness programs and services, visit healthyacadia.org.