'Lights of Hope' offers support to families of those struggling with addiction
'It’s just coming together as a community to show that we care and that you’re not alone'
The Lights of Hope event in Windsor on Sunday evening brought people together to honour those who have lost their lives to addiction, to raise awareness about substance abuse, and to provide a safe space and support system for families and friends of those struggling.
About 30 people gathered near Charles Clark Square where several speakers shared their personal stories of addiction, a candle light vigil was planned, and naloxone kits were available to anyone who wanted one.
It's the second year that co-host Lisa Whitehead has put on the event which she said is all about bringing hope to the community, remembering those who have been lost, honouring those who are still struggling and honouring those who have found recovery.
"It's just coming together as a community to show that we care and that you're not alone."
She said she wants to raise awareness that the pain of struggling with addiction extends to family members and that it's a very difficult situation for any parent or loved one.
"We're really focusing on what the family goes through, living with a loved addict, or dealing with a loved addict. There's not many places they can go to for help for that, but we want them to know that they're not alone."
Gary Boissonneault was at the event representing the Sober Sons motorcycle club — a group dedicated to maintaining sober lifestyles.
Boissonneault has been sober for 29 years, and wants people know that they "can walk away from this addiction," and that there is support available.
He added that there's still a lot of stigma attached to drug and alcohol abuse, and that there's a lot of false information and beliefs out there. Events like these ones, he explained, help dispel some of the stigmas that still exist.
"It affects every family," he said. "It is a disease, and it kills people."
Whitehead would like to see things change in the community, and for municipalities to come forward with more financial support to provide programs that might help those struggling. She'd like to see more detox programs, dry houses and transition homes in Windsor.
"I really, really want to see a change."
She said that the AIDS Committee of Windsor donated the 40 naloxone kits that were being handed out on Sunday. There were also two trained volunteers on site available to teach people at the event how to use the life-saving drug as well.
"Any chance that we have to put more naloxone kits out on the streets, better to save even one person's life."