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Moms speak out on overdose deaths

Mayor sets awareness day

Last week, when Stacey Lingafelt of Sinking Valley, whose son died of a heroin-fentanyl overdose in 2016, was working a table for The Addict’s Parents United at the National Night Out against crime in Duncansville, attendees twice approached to share their belief that an overdosing addict should not receive the revival drug naloxone more than once.

Addicts should know better after that, the attendees told her, Lingafelt said Monday at City Hall, after Mayor Matt Pacifico read a proclamation designating Aug. 31 as Overdose Awareness Day in Blair County.

Lingafelt responded outwardly to the attendees with reason, telling them that addicts have a brain disease that produces an urge that essentially overpowers their sense of danger.

She responded inwardly, however, with hurt — that the people who’d approached her thought addicts like her son are unworthy to be revived more than once.

The stigma of such thinking compounds the sense of loss when a parent loses a child to an overdose, said Michelle Lynam, who, like Lingafelt, is a member of both The Addict’s Parents United and Families United for Change, a local group that is also a haven for those with loved ones who’ve struggled with addiction.

Lynam’s son Greg, 29, died in 2017 of a heroin-fentanyl overdose, like Lingafelt’s son, Cody Belin, 19.

Parents of those who’ve died of overdoses are judged as having failed their children, just as those children are judged, Lynam said.

Yet all of the addicts have people who loved them, she said.

They couldn’t help what they did, she said.

To help give hope and a voice to the people who loved them despite what they did, the pair will be hosting Blair County International Overdose Awareness Day at Trans4mation Church on Aug. 31.

Cody Belin experimented with drugs when he was young, although at the end of his 11th grade year, a drug and alcohol counselor reassured Lingafelt that there was nothing to worry about and that her son’s behavior was typical.

After high school, Cody got a job and an apartment and all seemed well, but at some point, he and his girlfriend were offered heroin at a party without being told what it was, Lingafelt said.

They used it, she said.

A month later, they tried it again, she said.

He died a day after he had completed a 28-day stint in drug rehabilitation, Lingafelt said.

His girlfriend is in recovery.

Greg Lynam was 16 and in high school when he began experimenting, Lynam said.

“People like to blame (addiction) on choice,” Lynam said.

But it’s hard to make a case for choice against someone so young and lacking in the maturity necessary to make really informed choices, according to Lynam. And once made, choice doesn’t apply anymore when it comes to drugs, she said.

Her son died after a relapse following four years of sobriety, she said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

If you go

What: Blair County International Overdose Awareness Day

When: 5-9 p.m. Aug. 31 at Trans4mation Church, 1001 S. First St., Altoona (off Valley View Boulevard, near Maybrook Hills Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center)

Theme: “Raising awareness and remembering lives lost”

Activities: Information on substance abuse, live music, food, children’s activities, activities to honor those who’ve died as a result of addiction

Keynote speaker: Tim Ryan of Chicago, on “From Dope to Hope.”

For information: Call Michelle Lynam, 312-7624, or Stacy Lingafelt, 932-9149.

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