Members of the Cleveland community gathered at the Museum Center at Five Points Monday for Light Up the Night, an event to educate people about substance abuse and learn about those affected by …
Members of the Cleveland community gathered at the Museum Center at Five Points Monday for Light Up the Night, an event to educate people about substance abuse and learn about those affected by it.
The event was part of the Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors (GRAAB)’s 31 Days of Prevention, which will be running throughout October, and represented a partnership with the NOPE Task Force.
Light Up the Night candlelight vigil was hosted by Tanya Southerland, executive director of the GRAAB Coalition. She spoke at the event alongside Starr Brown and Stephanie Crisp, who are also from GRAAB.
“Our goal is to break the stigma of addiction and to educate the public of the dangers of substance abuse,” Southerland said.
The local event was part of a series of events taking place nationally. NOPE, which stands for Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education, will be hosting events across the nation as part of the 31 Days of Prevention.
Southerland opened the candlelight vigil with statistics on substance abuse and explained how to help tackle this problem.
“The way to get on the right path and stop the spread of this growing epidemic is through education,” Southerland said.
Brown, the community outreach coordinator for GRAAB, shared a poetic piece of reflection.
After, Crisp shared an emotional testimony explaining how substance abuse affected her life and how she continues to help those who struggle daily.
Southerland closed by explaining that she hopes to “eliminate the prejudice” and that they can see how anyone can be affected by substance abuse.
“The memory of our children or [other] relatives, and our friends, who have passed will live on in our hearts, forever honored and memorialized,” Southerland said. “May the dreams they had and the lives they lived be remembered always.”
At the event was a spread of photos of many people who lost their battles against substance abuse. Each photo accompanied by a story to show the different people from many backgrounds who were affected. Many of the stories were of kids as young as 13 to adults as old as 66.
“It’s not just a certain population that is targeted by this,” Southerland said. “It’s everybody from all walks of life.”
Brown explained that one of the signs of substance abuse is a sudden disinterest in things about which a person used to be passionate. She gave the example of an athletic person no longer wanting to get out of bed.
“[Substance abuse] happens here. It happens to people they love,” Brown said. “Drug abuse doesn’t make you a bad person. They just need someone to be aware.”
GRAAB highlighted the many forms substance abuse could take such as alcohol, prescription medicine and hard drugs.
Information was given out about GRAAB and how others can help. For more information about GRAAB and substance abuse, one can visit http://www.graabcoalition.com.
Southerland encouraged those who need help on approaching those they suspect to be suffering from substance abuse to visit http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/what-can-i-say-to-get-you-to-stop or call the Tennessee REDLINE, a hotline which provides referrals for those battling addiction, at 1-800-889-9789.
GRAAB will be hosting a number of events throughout the month of October. They will be providing information at the Cleveland Family YMCA on Oct. 13, 18 and 24.
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