Hundreds aim to change stigma behind addiction

All month long, 6-News has been taking a closer look at the opioid and heroin epidemic in our community.

Today, hundreds gathered for the 2nd annual “Unite to Face Addiction” rally at the Capitol Building.

“He’s funny, everybody loved him, he would help anybody,” says Cindy Kuikstra.

Kuikstra lost her son,  Andy, to a heroin overdose one year ago today.

“He wanted to get over this but he just couldn’t do it,” says Kuikstra.

Andy Kuikstra was only 28 years old when he died, and his mother used today’s 2nd annual “Unite to Face Addiction” rally as an opportunity to take a stand.

“They’re not like back-alley people, it’s everybody,” says Kuikstra.

Kuikstra belives improving access to treatment is an aspect that needs to be recognized. And she’s not alone.

“It’s a disease, and it is not curable but it’s treatable, and it’s treatable with recovery and that’s why were here today,” says Director of Capitol Vox, Kathy Reddington.

During the rally, Reddington provided free training sessions, educating others on how to use Narcan, a drug that blocks the effects of an overdose. Her goal, to get Narcan into the hands of those who need it most.

“These antidotes, this Naloxone, you can inject into the thigh, or you can use in nasal spray and it will bring them out of the overdose, you need to call 911 and it gives you time to get them to the hospital and save a life,” says Reddington.

Reddington says, knowing how to use Narcan, and having it available is important. Just one of the many things organizers hope community members had a chance to realize today.

“It’s not such a long dark road to hold by yourself um it’s a community and we all need to come together and do our part,” says UFAM Event Organizer, Jeannie Richards.

Organizers say, if they could describe today’s rally in one word, it would be “unity.” Hoping to put all of the information and resources in one place for those who need it most.

We welcome thoughts and comments from our viewers. We ask that everyone keep their remarks civil and respectful. Postings that contain profanity, racist, or potentially libelous remarks will be deleted. We will delete any commercial postings, as well.

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