Northern Nevada families & survivors walk for overdose awareness

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Multiple nonprofits and the sheriff’s office coordinated the event for International Overdose Awareness Day to support those in our community who have passed due to overdose and provide grief for families who are still in the struggle.

From survivors in recovery from overdose, to parents who have lost their children. For many, this event is a way to put an end to the rising statistics of preventable deaths.

Hundreds filled the streets of our city for a day of memory and hope for those who have suffered an overdose.

"We didn’t have the power to stop it and people do now, and I think that is huge."

The walk from the Believe sign to Wingfield Park is a way for families to grieve the loss of those who have passed due to overdose while raising awareness of an issue we face in Northern Nevada.

Sabrina Paulsen, who was a great student with no signs of mental illness until her parents found out while she was in college. Their daughter was suffering and her parents tried hard to get her help, but the problem only got worse.

"It’s very difficult to have your child pass before you, it’s out of order, but there are a lot of people going through the struggle, and we have a lot more resources than we did 10 to 12 years ago."

According to studies nearly 64 thousand Americans died of preventable drug overdose last year, making it the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Lisa Lee is an overdose survivor who says she has transformed her life from a dark place in jail, to now going back to that jail and helping women, where she once used to be, to cope with addiction.

"During those times I have been in recovery for 17 years, and people didn’t care as much and people didn’t talk about it and we didn’t have naloxone access back then."

Hundreds of flowers and hearts are placed in Wingfield Park with messages of encouragement and also in remembrance of some of the nearly 150 people in our area who have passed due to overdose in the last year.

Chief Deputy Jeff Clark with the sheriff’s office says, this event spreads awareness amongst our community to take action and help save more lives.

"My own brother died from overdose and almost every person that you talk to have a friend or family member that has been affected by this epidemic."

Organizers say this short walk is a way to strengthen our community and win the fight against overdose.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019