RESCHEDULED: County to Host Ceremony of Remembrance to Commemorate ‘International Overdose Awareness Day’ on Aug. 25, and Will Launch ‘Montgomery Goes Purple’

by Patrick Herron

UPDATE: Montgomery County’s ceremony of remembrance and candlelight vigil has been rescheduled for Thursday, Sept. 1, in Downtown Rockville to memorialize lives lost to overdose or substance use.   

Per Montgomery County:
Montgomery County will host a ceremony of remembrance and candlelight vigil on Thursday, Aug. 25, in Downtown Rockville to memorialize lives lost to drug overdoses or substance use. The event will commemorate “International Overdose Awareness Day,” a global event aimed at raising awareness of overdoses and reducing the stigma of drug-related deaths.

“Montgomery Goes Purple,” an awareness campaign aimed at spotlighting the impact of opioid addiction on the community, will be launched as part of the ceremonies which also lead to September being recognized as “Recovery Month.” The color purple has been adopted internationally to illustrate the struggles endured by people who are drug addicted and the related impacts on their families and friends.

The ceremony on Aug. 25 will be held at 7:15 p.m. at Memorial Plaza, located at 101 Monroe St. in Rockville (the terrace between the Montgomery County Executive Office Building and the County Circuit Court). At the event, family members and friends will remember loved ones and light candles in their honor.

The event will include a memorial photo display on the plaza. Families and friends can submit a photo (only photos of the individual with no one else in the picture can be submitted) to be included in the display. For more information, including how to submit a photo, visit the website. The deadline to submit photos so they can be included in the display is Monday, Aug. 15.

Prior to the ceremony, a resource fair featuring information on substance use prevention and treatment information will start at 5:30 p.m. Registration is required for those interested in providing information at the resource fair. Email Yap@montgomerycountymd.gov to register.

The opioid epidemic and the disease of substance use disorder have been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. In Montgomery County, opioid overdose deaths increased by 11 percent in 2021 from the previous year.

“On Aug. 25 and every day, we remember the lives we have lost to addiction. Each life had purpose and a story to tell,” said Raymond Crowel, director of the County Department of Health and Human Services. “Through remembrance and reflection, we will move forward collectively toward the day when no one has to suffer from this disease anymore.”

Recovery Month is an international observance to celebrate recovery and encourage individuals with a mental health or substance abuse disorder to seek recovery. Recovery Month increases awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders and attempts to reduce stigma. It also promotes messages emphasizing that behavioral health is essential to total health, prevention works, treatment is effective and people recover.

The event is co-sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney, the Circuit Court’s Adult Drug Court, the City of Rockville, the Montgomery County Collaboration Council, Montgomery Goes Purple, Montgomery County Public Schools Go Purple, Rockville Goes Purple and Gaithersburg Goes Purple.

Free parking for the event is available in the jury parking lot located at the corner of East Jefferson and Monroe streets—across from Memorial Plaza.

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