HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - On Tuesday evening, people gathered at the Hattiesburg Cultural Center to celebrate the lives of people lost to addiction.
The program was titled A Tribute to Recovery and Courage.
Last year, James Moore of Hattiesburg lost his 24-year-old son Jeffrey to a heroin overdose.
Moore, who organized the ceremony, said the program was dedicated to ending the stigma of the disease of addiction.
The event honored those who have died from addiction as well as support to those in recovery.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 78 Americans die from an opiod overdose everyday.
More said this is the first event in the Pine Belt area dedicated to celebrating the lives of people lost to addiction.
"The purpose of this is to start a community conversation," Moore said. "To get us to realize that addiction is a disease, just like any disease. The addict needs support and not judgment. They need love and care as you would give any other person with any other disease."
People who lost loved ones to addiction were invited to bring a framed photo of their family member, light a candle in honor of their struggle, and hear their name read as a part of the service of remembrance.
Health professionals, including neuroscientist and Associate Professor at The University of Southern Mississippi David Echevarria, spoke about addiction as a disease and the possible treatments for it.
"When we talk about the person's ability to not be able to stop, it's because their brain is affected it is a very real brain disease with behavioral components," Echevarria said.
A reception followed the ceremony allowing more time for attendees to view the remembrance photos and offer support to one another.
A Grieving Parents Support Group is held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Hattiesburg Clinic from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.