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‘We wanted to turn our pain into purpose.’ Local event helps spread overdose awareness.

Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS — A local nonprofit organization is spreading overdose awareness Tuesday night with a candlelight vigil to remember and honor family and friends that were lost to addiction.

“We will (also) be supporting those that are still struggling in addiction and also celebrating people in recovery,” said Kathleen Chin-Abood, founder of Soldiers of Hope in Idaho Falls.

Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. The local event in Idaho Falls will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Civitan Park. The event has brought over 100 people in the past.

Candlelight Vigil 2020 | Courtesy Kathleen Chin-Abood

“Everybody knows somebody that has an addiction problem to some extent. Addiction is not just an addict problem. It becomes a family problem and it becomes a community problem,” said Allen Abood, Kathleen’s husband and co-founder of Soldiers of Hope.

According to Eastern Idaho Public Health, in 2019, there were 134 deaths in Idaho related to overdoses involving opioids.

Allen explained to he used to be addicted to drugs and has been clean for 18 years.

“Eighteen years ago, I was living on the side of the 91 freeway in a little green tent, completely homeless, a complete addict, eating out of trash bins. I was an addict in Riverside, California,” Allen said. “It wasn’t anything more than the grace of God that picked me up and brought me here to Idaho and ever since then, the Lord has put so many different things in front of me and helped me. I just felt like I had a second chance. I should have been dead many times over and I survived it every time.”

Allen explained his previous wife passed away due to drug-related problems. She was an IV user and passed away from liver disease and Hepatitis C.

Kathleen has a similar situation involving her daughter.

“My daughter actually became addicted to heroin up in the Everett, Washington area when we lived up there and she went into rehab a few times. She was very involved in the recovery community and was able to help a lot of people when they struggled maintaining their recovery but unfortunately, she wasn’t able to help herself and she passed away December 2, 2016,” said Kathleen.

Allen and Kathleen started Soldiers of Hope in early 2019 based on their experiences with dealing with addiction.

“We wanted to turn our pain into purpose,” said Allen.

Allen and Kathleen | Courtesy Kathleen Chin-Abood

Allen and Kathleen say they are here to help the community in any way they can.

“We want people to know that we are here and if they know anyone with an active opiate addiction that we have Narcan and it’s free. All they need to do is call us and we will bring it to them,” he said.

Narcan can treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation.

Soldiers of Hope can be reached at (208) 357-6220.

Allen told there is another event coming up after Tuesday night’s event. There will be a Recovery Festival on Sep. 3 at the Freeman Park Bandshell from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Click here for drug prevention resources from Eastern Idaho Public Health.