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Jessica OrbonAug 31, 2017, 8:28 pmSep 1, 2017, 10:45 am

'International Overdose Awareness Day' continues battle against drugs in Perth Amboy

The event looks to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and let addicts know there is help

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For Geraldine Barcagski, it took a personal tragedy for her to speak out about addiction in her community.

Barcagski's 23-year-old son, Daniel, died of a heroin overdose in 2013, and as the organizer of Perth Amboy's International Overdose Awareness Day event, her goal is to get rid of the stigma associated with addiction and make sure families no longer have to suffer in silence.

"By reducing stigma and reaching out to the community and enlisting their understanding, and their ability to educate themselves on addiction itself, we'll save lives," Barcagski said.

Community leaders, law enforcement and former drug addicts came together for the event on Thursday at City Hall in Perth Amboy. Speakers shared their experiences with overdoses and drug addiction.

Perth Amboy Police Chief Roman McKeon said that officers have recovered 3,200 bags of heroin so far this year, and that the department has recently doubled its narcotics unit to keep up. McKeon also noted that the has been an overdose in Perth Amboy roughly every three days since the beginning of the year, and nearly 20 of those who have overdoses have died.

But for addicts like Jeudin Quesada, who has been in recovery for 6 months, days like Thursday give him the strength to keep moving forward.

"It gives me something to remember my past by because I have overdosed, and by the grace of God I've overcome it. I've been delivered from drugs and today makes me remember what I've been through and what others don't have to do through," Quesada said.

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