Thursday, August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day and on Wednesday, August 30 there was a clear focus on the opioid addiction crisis in Bucks County.

A tree-planting and remembrance ceremony was held at the “Steps to Recovery” on Veterans Highway in Middletown Township on Wednesday night. The event was open to the public.

A crowd of more than one hundred people met to discuss, engage in fellowship, share stories, and learn from the stories of others.

Tony Luke Jr, whose son passed away this past March due to a heroin overdose, was the keynote speaker.

Luke Jr shared his thoughts on what addiction meant to him and gave advice to parents who have lost a child to addiction.

“I’m here to tell you that I’m sure that you did everything that you possibly could. Loss can be managed, but guilt cannot be managed. You have to put that away because there is no guilt in what happened.”

He also gave advice to parents with a child who is currently going through addiction.

“Love them. Support them. As corny as that sounds, sometimes all they need is your love and support when they are at their worst.”

Tony Luke Jr started #brownandwhite, which was a campaign to end the stigma around opioid addiction. The purpose of #brownandwhite is to get a conversation going about addiction and to attach a face and name to the victim. 

He asked everyone who lost a loved one to post a picture with that hashtag, which represents the color of heroin.

“My son was not a statistic, he was a human being, and so is that person you love. And if enough families do it, then maybe people won’t whisper about it.”

At the end of the speech, there was a ceremony where people in attendance placed rocks with the names of loved ones that they lost to addiction on them around a tree.

After that, the event concluded with Chinese lanterns raised to the sky in honor of those that were lost to opioid addiction.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, Bucks County DA Matt Weintraub and Bucks County Coroner Dr. Joseph Campbell will participate in a New Hope community workshop: “All Hands In for Addiction Prevention and Recovery” Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.

 

LowerBucks.Live’s Ryan Erney contributed to this post.