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Remembering lives lost to drug addiction

South Boston News
Lisa Wallace lost her son due to drug addiction. The bags illuminated in front of her recognize only a few of those who have died from drug overdose in Halifax County. / September 02, 2021
Recovering Hands hosted its first Overdose Awareness Day memorial Tuesday night at Constitution Square, drawing a small gathering of community members who have lost loved ones to drug addiction.

Recovering Hands Board President Lisa Wallace organized the event in honor of her son, Luke Wazeka, who died of an overdose two years ago.

“My son’s name lives on to save lives,” said Wallace.

Wallace shared her battles as she tried to help her son get clean from drug use, but everything she tried did not work.

“I yelled, I tried tough love, but they have to want it for themselves,” said Wallace.

Drug addiction is a disease that can affect anyone. Yet there is life after recovery with a change in lifestyles and friends, and gaining strength when stress in life may trigger the urge to use drugs.

Also speaking about the loss of Luke Wazeka was his wife, Erika Holt. Even though her love was strong, it was not enough.

“There were times he was determined and struggled hard in his life with addiction,” said Holt.

Holt shared that all of his friends never reached out to her to offer condolences for her loss to make a point: if people are doing drugs with you, they are not your friends. It is important to be able to change your entire lifestyle when entering a life of recovery.

Kim Addams is the founder of Recovering Hands, a home for women in recovery located in Nathalie. Addams is a drug use survivor in long-term recovery, but could not save her brother Craig who died four years ago. At Recovering Hands, people learn to cope with daily life and stress, and how to be a productive person in society again through a spiritual approach.

“People do stay clean and addicts can stop using,” said Addams.

Ashley Pharr, 35 is a recovering drug addict who survived what doctors refer to a fatal overdose. Pharr had consumed a cocktail of oxycodone, heroin laced with Fentanyl, Zanax, alcohol, and Ritalin.

“Getting clean was easy,” said Pharr, who has been drug free for 16 months.

Pharr shared her experience at the event: She began to experiment using drugs as a way to get closer with her boyfriend at the time.

“It was a toxic relationship and I began to self-medicate,” said Pharr.

Pharr was in the hospital going through withdrawal during the Covid-19 pandemic without any family at her side. It was during this time she realized she was no longer the mother she once was to her two daughters, a sister, or the daughter her parents raised.

“When a doctor tells you the amount of seconds I had left to live, or my parents would have received a different phone call,” said Pharr — that was her wake-up call.

“I have not relapsed, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s not going to stay easy, but it’s beyond worth it,” said Pharr.

The celebration of loved ones lost was heightened by local gospel singer Linda Satterfield, who sang three songs, “Why Me Lord,” “Amazing Grace,” and “We Shall Overcome.”

Off to the side of the stage, a video slideshow displayed 40 photos of family members locally who have died of drug overdoses. Also, the group viewed snippets of the movie, “The Anonymous People,” about famous people in recovery, focusing on how anyone can become addicted to drugs.

As the sun set, everyone wrote the names of their lost loved ones on white paper bags. The bags were illuminated by a tea light candle and placed on the stage at Constitution Square. The gathering was a way for everyone to grieve and know they are not alone.

Wallace is working to organize a local support group for those who have lost someone due to drug use. Anyone who needs to talk may reach out and contact Wallace at 757-615-9669.

For anyone in recovery or battling with addiction, there are both Alcoholic and Narcotic Anonymous meetings available in South Boston. On Sunday and Monday at 6 p.m., Solutions with Serenity is held at the First Presbyterian Church at 800 N. Main Street. On Tuesday, Living Clean, the Journey Continues is held at Trinity Episcopal Church at 520 Yancey Street in South Boston.

In 2001, International Overdose Awareness Day was initiated by Sally J Finn at The Salvation Army in St. Kilda, Melbourne. For more information about International Overdose Awareness Day visit

To explore the grounds and housing at Recovering Hands visit them online at Recovering Hands is located at 4067 Beulah Road in Nathalie. For more information about Recovering Hands call 860-309-1404 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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