WARREN, R.I. (WPRI) — It was an emotional night in Warren Thursday as advocates gathered to honor the hundreds of Rhode Islanders who died from accidental drug overdoses last year.
The goal is to not only remember those who have lost their lives, but also to support those struggling with addiction.
This year’s vigil hits close to home for the East Bay Recovery Center, who lost one of their own last year.
Casey Joy Wood passed away back in October. She was one of 434 Rhode Islanders to die from an accidental drug overdose in 2022.
“Casey was the light of my life,” her mother Deborah Joy Wood said. “She was the light of a lot of people’s lives.”
East Bay Recovery Center’s Tommy Joyce tells 12 News that Casey had a positive impact on everyone she met.
“We want to remember the good times with Casey,” he said. “The smile she had … Her passion to help others.”
Stacey Walden, who’s been in recovery since 2005, took part in the vigil to honor her friend who died of an accidental drug overdose.
“I’m here to stop the stigma and bring to light that recovery is possible,” Walden said.
Walden encouraged those who are struggling with addiction to reach out.
“Recovery has given me a purpose,” she said. “That purpose is to touch a life … any life.”
Joyce tells 12 News the vigil is designed to bring the community together the heal and bring attention to the ongoing opioid epidemic.
When it comes to tackling the epidemic, Joyce said everyone plays a role.
“We can be kinder and gentler with people who are struggling,” Joyce said. “We need to really understand why people are doing what they’re doing and find the underlying cause.”
“If you know someone who is struggling, reach out and lend a helping hand,” he continued. “You could make a world of difference.”