Boone County vigil remembers those lost to drug addiction

Jennifer Reynolds

Drug overdoses are a painful problem for Hoosier families. Too many people have lost loved ones.

Some of those people gathered for a Recovery and Remembrance Vigil in Lebanon Thursday. Even though the group was small (about 20 people), their focus was on a big problem - that of drug addiction and its cost to Hoosier families.

"Prescription drug overdose deaths have become a national epidemic and Indiana has become a part of that disturbing trend," said Sharon Blair as she spoke to those gathered.

For Blair, though, Indiana's growing drug problem is about more than just trends and statistics. For this Indiana mother, the fight is personal. Her daughter, Jennifer, lost her fight with addiction five years ago when she overdosed on prescription pain killers after being in and out of rehab several times, but ultimately relapsing.

"She fell into the trap of addiction just like a lot of high school kids do," explained Blair of how it started.

"They start out experimenting and hers became an addiction and that addiction ended up killing her."

Blair's pain was a shared one in the chapel at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lebanon. Everyone in the room had been touched in some way by addiction. They were either a recovering addict, loved someone who struggled with addiction or had lost someone to it.

"These families are desperate to save their kids' lives," said Blair.

For her, that has meant speaking at vigils like the one Thursday night and fighting for the passage of The Jennifer Act, a law that would force people into treatment for their addiction rather than just putting them in prison.

"They end up dead or incarcerated and I think that's unacceptable."

Until that changes, Blair said vigils like the one held Thursday would continue, with the number of candles lit to remember those lost to addiction, growing every year.

Blair said she hopes to get The Jennifer Act passed into law during the next legislative session.