When A Loved One Dies Of Overdose, What Happens To The Family?

Submission Date: Feb 18, 2016
Attributing Author: Kristin Gourlay
Source: NPR (Southern California Public Radio)

Thousands of parents have lost sons and daughters across the country to an epidemic of accidental drug overdoses.

Cathy Fennelly tried to save her son from heroin addiction.

For eight years, she tried to help him get sober. She told him he couldn’t come home unless he was in treatment. It tormented her, knowing that he might be sleeping on the streets, cold at night.

But nothing worked. In 2008, she found him dead from an overdose on her front step.

“No matter how many detoxes I put him in, no matter how many mental facilities; I emptied out my 401(k), I sold my jewelry,” she says. “This will never get easier. Never.”

Like Fennelly, thousands of parents have lost sons and daughters across the country to an epidemic of accidental drug overdoses. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the total number deaths from heroin overdose increased by six times from 2001 to 2014. For these parents, support can be scarce — and the grief can be complicated.

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