NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee, like every other state in the country, is struggling with a rise in drug addiction.
Families who have lost loved ones are spreading the word on International Overdose Awareness Day because addiction doesn’t just affect the addict.
The victims are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters, all gone too soon.
“It’s been a tough road; it’s been a real tough road,” said Jacqueline Perrine.
Perrine lost her son Adam to a heroin overdose nine months ago. She put together a vigil Wednesday night to remember her son and so many others who didn’t survive their addictions.
“Let families who are hurting know that there is help and there is support,” she said.
To give you an idea just how big of a problem this is—the numbers are staggering.
More people die in Tennessee from drug overdose than car crashes.
Many heroin addictions begin with prescription pills. Patients are over-prescribed, and when the pills run out, they’re addicted.
That’s when they turn to heroin, which is much cheaper and often easier to get.
“We are really one of the states that’s at the epicenter of this problem,” said Melissa McPheeters with the Tennessee Department of Health.
The state health department was awarded 1.6 million dollars Wednesday from the federal government to help combat the problem.
McPheeters says her agency works to prevent addiction before it begins by tracking powerful narcotics and how they’re being prescribed.
“Working upstream so that we can help our population never become addicted in the first place,” she told News 2.
Efforts like that are too late for families like Dan and Cindy Blom. Their son Erik died two years ago in an accidental heroin overdose.
“The shock and the complex trauma around that kind of loss is just unbelievable,” Cindy said.
It would be easy to keep their loss private, but they speak out to raise awareness in hopes that others going through addiction get the real help they need.