“I’m here because I’ve lost a lot of friends this year alone,” said Will McDougal. “This year has been real bad.”

“Here” was the fourth annual Drug Overdose and Prevention Vigil, organized by the Carroll County’s State’s Attorney’s Office and hosted Tuesday night by Carroll Community College in the Scott Center auditorium.


As to the bad year, the official numbers from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office back up McDougal’s experience, with 32 fatal drug and alcohol overdoses recorded through April 2018.

However, as State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said in his remarks, Tuesday’s event wasn’t about the numbers.

“Because behind those numbers are real people and real families, real friends. Many who are here tonight,” he said. “There are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, best friends, who are no different than anyone else’s. The face of addiction comes in many forms.”

The proof of this could be seen in the film shown at the beginning of the event, listing those who have died from overdoses in recent years, or on the candlelit tables in the theater lobby, holding framed photo after framed photo in concentric circles of remembrance.

Carroll County overdose vigil focuses on healing

There were 46 people in Carroll County who lost their lives to a drug overdose in 2016. That's the macabre statistic with which Carroll County State's Attorney

“I know way too many people that are on that table,” said Linda Auerback, substance use prevention supervisor with the Carroll County Health Department. “I personally went to two funerals in the past week for young people that I knew that overdosed.”

But it’s about more than mourning those lost, Auerback said. The vigil provides a chance for healing through collective grieving and the celebration of life, she said

“I think to come together and see you are not alone is so powerful,” Auerback said. “The stigma is, ‘I’m the only one that this has happened to,’ and then you come to something like this.”

It was a sentiment echoed by DeLeonardo.

“For those who have lost a loved one, I hope you take comfort in knowing you are in a room full of people that care about your loss, and that we want to prevent others from experiencing that same pain,” he said. “Your loss is a loss shared by the entire community.”

State's Attorney's Office hosts vigil to remember overdose victims, speak about prevention

The Carroll County State's Attorney's Office held its second annual Drug Overdose and Prevention Vigil at the church on Thursday at 7 p.m. to honor those who lost their lives to their battles with addiction and to spread a message about prevention in hopes there would be less people to remember next year.

And that, in a way, makes the event more about hope than about grief and loss, said Tim Weber, drug education and treatment liaison for the State’s Attorney’s Office and in recovery himself.

“It’s very sad and eye-opening seeing all the candles lit and all the names, but there’s a lot of hope in this room. Because there are a lot of people who have made it to the other side and are in recovery,” Weber said. “A lot of people who have lost someone still have loved ones that are in active addiction, so to see the hope side of it is really good.”

That can have a real impact, according to McDougal.

“It lets people know that somebody cares, and that’s important,” he said. “It gives people that are still out there a chance to meet people who are doing the right thing and talk to somebody and try to get help.”

McDougal knows from first-hand experience. Now 90 days sober and working through his own recovery, he is glad to be able to attend this year’s vigil, having missed some years due to his addiction.


“This year it’s more important,” he said. “I’m here and I know I am lucky to be here.”