BANGOR, Maine — August 31st marks International Overdose Awareness Day. Nationwide, many are working to let those struggling with addiction know, they are not in their fight alone. Today in Bangor, that message was shown not just verbally, but through art.
The organization Needlepoint Sanctuary hosted a community art project on Saturday, allowing all comers to write chalk messages in Pickering Square for family and friends who lost their battle with substance abuse.
"It could be your kid, your son, your daughter, your mother, your father, it affects everybody," said one attendee Brittany Goding.
Goding is currently in school and working as a recovery coach for those battling addiction. It's something she's all too familiar with.
"I actually overdosed, and lost a lot of friends, because they realized I was an addict and they didn't know. I hid it," said Goding. She now is clean, and is in long-term recovery. She wants her story of redemption to help others struggling and show that there is hope.
"It feels so much better. Your whole mindset changes. It's a really hard hill to climb, but once you get there, you know you're heading in the right direction," said Goding.
She attended the event with a group of friends also studying to become recovery coaches.
Today's event in Pickering Square was different than others hosted by Needlepoint Sanctuary in Bangor. The group hosts weekly needle exchanges, as well as offering the opioid overdose antidote known as naloxone.
Just last week, volunteers from Needlepoint Sanctuary say some members were arrested during the needle exchange for operating it without a license. One volunteer, who prefers to go by Dave Carvagio, says despite that his group intends to continue it's work because of possible live saving results.
"Keep in your thoughts and don't cast anyone out of your hearts, because you might have a cousin or a nephew that's struggling with drugs, and you're not going to know that until you read their name in the paper when they suffer an overdose," said Carvagio.
When instances of overdose do occur, many times the first people on scene are fire and EMS crew.
"We do overdose calls every single day. Every day of the week, every day of the year," said Bangor assistant fire chief Greg Hodge.
Hodge says he and his entire staff have undergone intensive narcan and naloxone training, both overdose antidote drugs.
Last year in the state of Maine, 354 died of an overdose.