Tewksbury Police, Front Line Initiative Co-Hosting Overdose Vigil – Tewksbury, MA Patch

Tewksbury Police, Front Line Initiative Co-Hosting Overdose Vigil – Tewksbury, MA Patch

TEWKSBURY, MA — The Tewksbury Police Department and Front Line Initiative will be hosting the 11th annual Tewksbury Overdose Vigil in memory of lives lost to substance use disorder and overdose, the department has announced.
The vigil will take place Thursday evening at the Tewksbury Recreation Center, located at 286 Livingston St.
Attendees are invited to bring a photograph of a loved one who has been lost to substance use disorder or an overdose. At 5:30 p.m., there will be an opportunity to sign a book of names, which will be read aloud at 6:30 p.m.
“We want to continue to show support for the families who still suffer from the loss of their loved one,” Tewksbury Police Ryan Chief Columbus said. “This epidemic runs deep in our nation and what has happened to our communities is a national tragedy.”
According to the Tewksbury PD, there have been 33 overdoses in Tewksbury so far in 2022, five of them fatal. A year ago, there were 69 overdoses in town, nine of them fatal, and in 2020, there were 73 overdoses in Tewksbury, nine of them fatal.
While numbers have been trending in the right direction, Columbus said it remains important to keep the issue of substance use disorder top of mind and continue to remember those who have fallen victim over the years.
“Although overdose numbers are trending down from 2017, when there were 98 overdoses and 14 lives lost, we still need to remember the lost and be vigilant as we face the future as a department and as parents,” Columbus said. “I hope the community will join us for this very important remembrance.”
The vigil is co-hosted by the Front Line Initiative, which is a regional mental health collaborative consisting of the police departments of Tewksbury, Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut and Tyngsborough, Beth Israel Lachey Health Behavioral Services and other community partners.

The collaborative provides the community with a direct connection to behavioral health and substance use services.
In fact, the Front Line Initiative distributed 42 kits of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan and trained 45 people to administer the drug at a late-September session at the Tewksbury Public Library
“One of the most effective ways to prevent overdose deaths among the at-risk population of those with substance use disorder is to carry and know how to administer Narcan, which has saved tens of thousands of lives nationwide,” said Matthew Shelton, the executive director of the Front Line Initiative. “We are pleased we were able to help share the life-saving power of Narcan, and to gather together to remember those lost at this event (on Thursday).”


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