CLEVELAND (WJW) — Every time the bell tolled in Public Square on Thursday, it was to remember someone who died of a drug overdose in our area.

Each flag there represented one of the 5,000 people who died from drug overdoses in the state of Ohio, and every bell toll is to remember the more than 600 people who died in Cuyahoga County.

But the bells also toll with hope that people with addiction can get the help they need.

“We want everyone to know that there is help available; that treatment works and people do recover. So we want people to know that there is hope, that there are services available. We want you to get into treatment,” Cuyahoga County Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services CEO Scott Osiecki said.

But until there is treatment, the other priority is saving lives.

It’s not about just talking about the problems of substance abuse, but about helping people who are addicted live.

Many people who overdose, especially on fentanyl or opioids, could be saved if they had naloxone.

And a lot of services, from hospitals to nonprofits, are out in the streets working to help people who are addicted use safely and not become a statistic.

“So our whole vision is to support people, to keep them safe and alive and with us and not approach them with stigma. And those are individuals who can continue to live and find recovery,” Thrive for Change Director Bethany Roebuck said.

And treatment works. For people who manage to get into treatment, it changes their lives.

“When I used to get high, I used to go hard. And I know that I’m a walking miracle,” said Waverly Willis.

You’ve seen Willis before. He’s the owner of three very successful businesses and an outspoken advocate for education, entrepreneurship and helping people get into treatment.

Eighteen years ago, he was homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol and spent many a night using drugs and sleeping in Public Square.

He said he’s living proof that society should not give up on people who have fallen into addiction, but instead do everything they can to help them.

“In recovery, we have a saying that ‘A problem shared is cut in half.’ So when they share their story, I may not have solutions but you know what? I have a shoulder to lean on and I got some resources to share with them,” Willis said.

Help is there for those who seek it, and even if recovery is not the immediate need, there are still people who care.

Because death from overdose takes away the chance for recovery and the chance to lead a different life.

“Let’s not let our loved one’s death be in vain. Let us all be grateful that we are still here,” Willis said.

Treatment works. And if you would like more information about treatment for yourself or for a loved one, or if you need Narcan or fentanyl test strips, you can follow these links: