ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke area organizations along with people recovering from addiction gathered for International Overdose Awareness Day at the Vinton War Memorial on Wednesday evening.
International Overdose Awareness Day honors the lives lost to overdose and offers support to people on the path to recovery.
Caitlyn Sherwood checked off both boxes as she continues her journey of sobriety – she’s going on nine years now.
But Sherwood continues to tell the story of her sister Storrie who lost her life to addiction.
“The person you least expected to be not the stereotypical addict, junkie, you know that kind of person … became that,” Sherwood said.
Looking back on the moment, Sherwood still found it relieving that her sister escaped the pain of life with addiction.
“I feel guilty to say it but there is some relief because I know having lived through some of it how miserable it was,” Sherwood said. “It’s gotten easier to know that there are days that if I can’t do it for me or if I’m just not feeling it, I am living because she doesn’t get to now.”
Storrie Sherwood’s picture was hung along the memorial beside other faces of people who lost their lives to an overdose.
Niles Comer said he’s lucky his face is not on that wall.
While people try to avoid matching faces to the staggering numbers of overdoses, Comer said it’s important to really look at them.
“I do focus on the numbers because I think it’s really important to understand…every four hours a Virginian died of an overdose tonight,” Comer said.
Comer allows his face to represent the survivors.
“I joke around that I’m the face of recovery and I don’t mean that I’m the only face but I am a face of recovery,” Comer said.
Throughout Wednesday evening, people got to meet with Roanoke area organizations helping with addiction treatment. They heard stories of people who lost loved ones, those who arrive at the scene of an overdose, and people on the path to recovery.
At one point, Comer got up and hugged every person standing behind an organization’s table.
“I really just felt this desire to just touch them, literally, handshake, hug and remind them you’re here and you’re my hero and you’re our hero and I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for some of these folks,” Comer said.
Caitlyn Sherwood will continue her journey through recovery, but she won’t go without telling people about her sister.
“If she were still here I would reiterate something that I’ve heard tonight … that it’s not too late,” Sherwood said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 800-662-HELP (4357).
You can also visit abovethehigh.org.
You can find more local resources below:
- Weekly meetings for N.A. - Roanoke Valley Area of Narcotics Anonymous (roanokena.com)
- List of rehab centers - Inpatient Rehab in Roanoke, VA (inpatient-centers.org)
- Non-inpatient options - Substance Use/Abuse Resources (roanoke.edu)