HARTFORD — For families who have lost their sons to heroin, spending a Sunday in the park is more than a chance to enjoy the weather; it’s a chance to keep other families from experiencing the same devastating loss.
On Sunday, a drug awareness rally will be held from noon until 5 p.m. at Hartford’s 7th Street Park, offering the opportunity for families, along with guest speakers and representatives from two national organizations, to share their message of the dangers of prescription drugs, which can lead to heroin abuse.
“There’s going to be help there for the loved ones of addicts — it’s not just for addicts,” says Vicki Full, an organizer of the event. “We felt like we should do more about education because a lot of people don’t know that some of the prescription medications out there are just as dangerous as the illegal drugs, and they really don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.”
Hero Inside and American Addiction Centers will be handing out information and offering support throughout the event.
Vicki’s mission is personal; she lost her 30-year-old son Nick to an overdose in March of this year. He had struggled with heroin addiction but had been clean for two years when he overdosed on prescribed methadone and Xanax, leaving behind a son of his own.
“It was legal for him to overdose,” Vicki says. “It ripped my heart out, and then we lost another young man, and I just felt like this was something we needed to do.”
The other individual was a 22-year-old friend.
“He was just a wonderful kid who got caught up,” Vicki says. “They both were. It really consumes you. It takes your life. They fought hard … they both did.”
Tim Ryan, Midwest outreach coordinator at Banyan Treatment Center, and Chad Sabora, co-founder and vice president of the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery, will be the guest speakers at the event.
“Chad … helps (people) get into recovery on the Missouri side, and Tim helps people on the Illinois side, but they both work in both states,” Vicki says. “They take people that are addicted — it’s not really just kids anymore — and they counsel them, get them set up with a program, and try to get them the funds to get them started in rehab.
“(Tim Ryan) works 24/7. He tries to help people out.”
But Tim isn’t alone in wanting to help end the epidemic sweeping through Greater Alton.
“If there’s one person I can help there, or that any of us can help, that’s my goal,” Vicki says.
Refreshments will be sold at the event, and a raffle will be held. Proceeds help alleviate the costs of recovery for addicts who cannot afford rehabilitation.