At an Overdose Awareness Day event in New Bedford, Siblings Share their Loss Experiences

At an Overdose Awareness Day event in New Bedford, Siblings Share their Loss Experiences

NEW BEDFORD – She had no idea what to do because it happened so quickly. Cathleen Freitas lost her brother, Jacob Girilo, after a 23-year struggle with addiction that began with booze and progressed to cocaine, heroin, and Oxycodone prescriptions administered by a doctor after he was struck by a car.

“That’s when addiction turns to pills, and then it gets really bad after that,” she said. “Several attempts in rehab to get him clean, in and out, and he was at a halfway house, and we had thought this is it, he’s good, he’s clean. To our surprise, he got introduced to heroin while he was trying to get clean.”

She kept her distance since she didn’t know what to do. He felt like a stranger when they reunited in December 2015, but she was able to tell him she loved him. He died on March 28, 2016, after an accidental overdose caused by high quantities of heroin and

It was the first time Freitas talked publicly about her experiences, at Custom House Square, on International Overdose Awareness Day. She said she hopes her comments may assist others, and she was helped by her religion.

This year’s focus was on hearing from brothers and sisters who had lost siblings. There was also a theme of memory, perseverance, and recovery, as well as a communal commitment to assist others suffering from addiction.

Max and Sarah Bethoney spoke about the death of their brother, Caleb, to addiction as their sister, Kat, looked on. Max spoke to all Kat wanted to say about the hole in her heart and how she felt about never seeing him again. Max also expressed his feelings over their loss.

When Max questioned why he had survived addiction but his brother had not, Sarah informed him that she did not want this for either of her brothers.

“We still talk about him a lot because we love him and miss him, and we don’t want his memory to fade,” Max said. “Even though it’s painful, we want to share his memory.”


Read our research on: Recovery Resources in New Bedford Massachusetts

A Community gathers to commemorate Overdose Awareness Day.

Residents, members of the Greater New Bedford Opioid Task Force, and municipal officials gathered for Wednesday’s International Overdose Awareness Day ceremony at City Hall and a procession concluding at Custom House Square.

Connie Rocha-Mimoso, director of community health services at Seven Hills Behavioral Health, said she wishes no one had to deal with addiction or mourn the loss of a loved one, but that is not the reality of the opioid crisis.

“We choose to come together to support those who are grieving, those who are in recovery, and those who are still struggling with addiction, and of course, we’re here today to honor the lives of those we love and we have lost,” she said.

In 2021, 43 people in New Bedford died as a result of a drug overdose. In addition, 517 people overdosed and survived in 2021. Police Chief Paul Oliveira revealed these figures while reminding everyone that the figures represent people who have died or are in mourning.

More than 22 service organizations put up information booths and offered aid to people battling drug misuse and their families on the road to recovery.

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