RiverValley Behavioral Health is introducing “Hope After Loss,” a support group for adults coping with the loss of a loved one due to an overdose.
The free and noncommittal program, which will have an open-door policy, will be from 5-6 p.m. April 3 and 8-9 a.m. April 6 at the RVBH Outpatient Clinic, 1110 Walnut St., and will continue to meet the first Monday and Thursday of each month.
Teresa Edge, LPA, TCADC and outpatient therapist, and Marsha Lowery, LPP and senior director of clinical services and training, said the idea for the group came about after seeing a need for the community.
“Overdose is on the rise, and there’s really not a whole lot of support groups available for people who have lost someone due to an overdose,” Edge said.
Lowery said the 2021 overdose fatality report from the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and the Office of Drug Control Policy reported 2,250 Kentuckians died from an overdose — a 14.5% increase from 2020.
Lowery said the rise is “largely” due to fentanyl — a potent synthetic opioid drug used for pain relief and anesthetic that is “approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
At times, Lowery said fentanyl may be included in other drugs that people are using without their knowledge.
“Of those 2,250 (people), the statistics show that 1,639 were from fentanyl,” she said. “When you ask about the inspiration for this (support group), … you think about those 2,250 people who have died from overdoses times the number of loved ones that those people have — that number is incredible.”
While Lowery said RVBH helps those dealing with substance abuse, she felt it was time to focus on people that experience the struggles second hand.
“At RiverValley, we work really hard to provide a full array of services (and) a whole lot of substance use services,” she said, “but then we also realized there are a lot of people out there who are hurting from the loss of overdose.
“We wanted to find a way to reach out to offer some support to those people, because I don’t think there’s anything like that in this area that we’re familiar with.”
Edge, who will facilitate the support group, said the structure of the program will not be set up as a therapeutic session, but rather those in attendance will lead the conversations.
Edge and Lowery hope people who attend can hear how each individual is processing their loss and learn from each other, while providing support for one another.
“Grief is very individualistic; but particularly when you’ve lost a loved one to overdose, there’s a lot of stigma attached to that,” Lowery said. “I think loved ones can often feel isolated in their grief. There’s a lot of confusing emotions that are attached to that — from your typical expected sadness to probably some feelings of anger and certainly some feelings of guilt: ‘I didn’t do enough’ or ‘What I did wasn’t good enough.’ ”
Lowery said if those in attendance recognize they are experiencing more complicated grief, RVBH will help connect them with additional resources and services.
RVBH’s mobile crisis team will also be available for assistance during both group sessions.
For questions or information regarding the “Hope After Loss” support group, please contact [email protected].
If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call or text 988.
Published on March 30, 2023