Carlton Smith reads a few words to those to those who attended NCADD's Candlelight Vigil Saturday night at Marine Park.

Carlton Smith reads a few words to those to those who attended NCADD's Candlelight Vigil Saturday night at Marine Park.

Shedding light on heroin in Juneau

Juneau resident Reagan Eidsness lost two brothers to heroin overdoses. It’s not an easy thing for her to talk about, but it’s a conversation she’s willing to have to save someone else from the pain she’s experienced.

“I’ve made it a point of making sure everyone knows that it’s real, it happens to families all over,” Eidsness said at a Saturday night vigil, holding a burning candle in honor of family members she can’t be with now.

“Two brothers, that’s a different story.”

Nearly 40 people gathered Saturday evening in Marine Park for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of those who lost their struggles with addiction and those who continue to struggle. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence worked with Juneau-Stop Heroin, Start Talking to host the event.

Eidsness spoke to the circle as a survivor, not of addiction, but as someone touched by what addiction can do to a family.

“I’m still grieving, I will forever after two brothers,” she said. “Anger and hurt are part of me and will be for a while.”

Kara Nelson, a recovering addict and the director of Juneau’s Haven House, held a candle in the circle for her own battle with addiction (she’s overdosed three times in her life). She also held the flame for the women she sees and works with every day as she advocates for stronger recovery in the community.

“I just am always here to support any efforts of people speaking up, because with our silence we allow other people to define us,” Nelson said. “I see this with the women in the home…it’s overwhelming. We always have to be in the solution, always. Always in the solution.”

According to Alaska’s Division of Public Health, heroin deaths in the state tripled from 2008 to 2013. Alaska Mental Health trustee Carlton Smith talked about how this difficult battle Juneau is facing is a war for the entire state to acknowledge.

“In this moment, we know that the dangers of addiction now touch every Alaska family,” Smith said. “In this moment we know that solutions must be collaborative and will require an entire community to act…one day soon, all Alaskans will know the serenity prayer that we share here and now.”

Before the flames were blown out, in unison the group recited the lines often spoken by addicts, but that also applies those fighting for change: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

For more information about Juneau-Stop Heroin, Start Talking, visit www.facebook.com/stopheroinstarttalking/?fref=ts.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 22

This photo shows pills police say were seized after a suspicious package was searched. (Juneau Police Department)
Police: 1,000 fentanyl pills, 86 grams of meth seized

Juneau man arrested on felony charges.

Library Director Dave Berry and Advisory Board Chair Kate Finn participate in Library Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday Jan. 17, 2023, at Homer City Hall, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Emilie Springer/Homer News)
Homer Library Advisory Board upholds decision to retain LGBTQ+ books

A citizen’s group last year submitted a petition asking that the books be removed from the children’s section

Courtesy Photo / Juneau Police Department 
This photo shows Woodrow Farrell Eagleman who police say after going missing on Jan. 11 was seen leaving town on Jan. 12 via airport surveillance.
Police: Man reported missing took plane out of town

A Juneau man recently reported as missing was found leaving town on… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Jan. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Juneau-based actor Xáalnook Erin Tripp was recently named one of the 2023 Artists in Business Leadership Fellows for First Peoples Fund program. Tripp said she intends to use to program’s grant funding to set up a professional recording studio in Juneau for her voice acting career and to share with other artists in the community. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
First Peoples Fund to help Juneau actor create recording studio for voice acting

Xáalnook Erin Tripp among artists with Southeast ties to earn the award.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Katie Botz, a Juneau school bus driver honored by Gov. Mike Dunelavy for her advocacy on behalf of abuse victims, stands to applause during his recognition of her during the State of the State speech Monday night at the Alaska State Capitol.
‘A victory for all of us’: Juneau woman recognized among Resilient Alaskans for her advocacy

Katie Botz’s presence — and brief absence — as a victims advocate led to a big win and governor’s honor.

Arnold Vosloo as Colonel Bach addresses US soldiers in latest film, “Condor’s Nest” in theaters and digital release on Friday. (Courtesy Photo / PMKBNC)
‘Popcorn thriller’ set in South America features actor from Alaska

“Condor’s Nest” will be available on demand Friday.

Jim Cockrell, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, speaks in Wasilla at a May 3, 2022, news conference. Cockrell has ordered an investigation after troopers mistakenly took a school principal into custody for a mental health exam. (Photo by Yereth Rosen / Alaska Beacon)
Troopers, misled by false court order, detained principal for mental health check

State troopers mistakenly took Alaska’s 2022 Principal of the Year into custody…

Most Read