Residents of Southeastern Connecticut held a vigil Thursday night in Montville in response to a string of local overdose deaths this past year.
The addiction resource group Community Speaks Out led the vigil outside of a shopping complex, where dozens lit candles in memory of friends and family lost to heroin overdose.
Watch scenes from the vigil below.
Karine Heard of Waterford lost both her sons to overdose. Her oldest died in 2008, and her 25-year-old son died earlier this year.
"Every since Randy died in ’08, my hope was for the stigma to be removed, or minimized," Heard said. "So I always talk about my experience with no shame -- because if you don’t talk about it, you don’t know."
Community Speaks Out volunteer Allan Selserman gave out overdose prevention kits equipped with naloxone at the vigil. His son died from an overdose in 2008. He said the first responders didn’t have naloxone on them at the time.
"We’ve heard law enforcement say: Why would you give a kit to an active user? Because they’re going to OD. You’re gonna save them, and they’re going to OD again. You can’t look at it like that,"Selserman said.
Earlier this year, Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation requiring first responders to carry naloxone.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a mental health reform bill championed by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy that includes $1 billion in funding for states to combat opioid abuse.