More than 500 people will be honored on the Portland waterfront next weekend.
PORTLAND, Maine – Next weekend, members of the Maine recovery community will gather in honor of ‘Black Balloon Day’.
Every year on March 6, people across the country recognize the day and remember those loved ones lost by a drug-related overdose.
2020 was the deadliest year to date for overdoses in Maine, with 503 deaths.
According to Maine’s Opioid Response Director, the number is so high for two reasons: the dangerous synthetic opioid – fentanyl – being mixed with other drugs and isolated from the pandemic.
“You can’t meet people, shake hands and exchange phone numbers … or hug … hugging is so big,” said Ryan Paige. Paige is part of the Maine Recovery Advocacy Program.
He and Zoe Brokos, the Director of Portland Safe Injection Church are just two of the many faces that must be present.
“Helping people stay safe and with access to resources and connect to recovery treatment services when they are ready is really a challenge now,” said Brokos.
Brokos said she and her team will provide Naloxone training to anyone interested in the location. The event will take place on Saturday, March 6, at Portland’s East End beach, from 10 am to 2 pm
“There will be food, there will be entertainment and there will be connection, which is the most important thing,” said Paige.
Paige said there will also be a slide show in honor of the lives lost due to addiction in 2020 and beyond.
“The video will bring awareness to those we have lost, but also show that people are not alone,” said Paige. “It is no longer something you have to hide.”