The Big 3 Epidemics

As the New Canaan Parent Support Group plans our 4th Annual Addiction Awareness Vigil, we believe it is important to stand with those whose health has suffered from inequitable access to resources for prevention, treatment and recovery from addiction. Our event theme this year is “Helping Each Other Heal”, which means that ALL in our communities should be supported with hope, resources and unity.

We believe in the power of story to create understanding and educate.  This includes learning from the voices of black and brown people.  At this year’s Vigil, we welcome recovery advocate Michael A., who will describe his story which begins in Norwalk’s public housing projects.  While sad to hear of the obstacles to his recovery, it’s inspiring how he overcame them all.

Our Vigil is virtual this year, due to the health guidelines required from the COVID-19 pandemic.  What is clear currently, is we have 3 epidemics happening at once.  Addiction is clearly one, as shown by the number of drug overdoses in this country increasing again after having moderated a few years ago.  Beyond addiction, there are two epidemics: COVID-19 and racism.  Let’s call them the “Big 3”.


Our Vigil is focused on addiction, which is a disease and epidemic that have been stigmatized for way too long.  I know in the case of my own son Evan, that he was a kind, thoughtful young man who acquired a nasty disease from which he died way too soon.  His overdose was a tragedy that affected so many people—both family members like me and friends who adored him.  However, I personally hope that increasing awareness through the Vigil will help improve understanding.  In this way, our community will reach out to others, and pathways to recovery can be found for all.

In the last three months, we’ve been impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic—more specifically pandemic—that has taken over 150,000 lives so far.  My heart goes out to those who have struggled with this disease, because similar to addiction it is a disease of isolation.  The last days and hours before the end, are spent without support or connection with others.  How sad.  In addition, there are others who have struggled with mental health and substance misuse, caused by despair and loneliness. 

The May 25th killing of George Floyd reminded many that racism in this country leads to unjust and even appalling outcomes.  Racism is a matter of isolating a certain group of people for no logical reason.  To overcome the inequity, education and understanding through stories and open conversation.  We have a unique environment in our community to create change for the better, by focusing on solutions and not problems.  Black and brown lives do matter.


I hope you will join us on September 2, when we will honor those who died and those who struggled and are in recovery.  As we unite virtually, I hope you will consider lighting a candle of hope, that we as a community CAN unite to make changes for the better.  While our event is about addiction, COVID-19 and racism will also be on our minds.  Together, we can help each other heal.