The Monroe County Drug Endangered Children’s Task Force (DECTF) is working to ensure that trauma-informed, resiliency-focused care, resources and programming are available for children exposed to drugs in Monroe County.

The DECTF was recently given eight copies of “Someone I Love Died from a Drug Overdose,” to distribute locally. The books were provided by the Monroe County Health Council’s Prevention and Wellness Coalition, which determined the utilization of this resource should prioritize elementary school-aged counselors and health care facilities in the area. DECTF has agreed to work with local schools and health care agencies to provide the book as a resource for children in Monroe County who have been or may be affected by the loss of a loved one due to overdose.

“Substance abuse struggles impact many people beyond the person fighting,” said Tammie George, the chairperson of the Monroe County Prevention Coalition. “Our Prevention Coalition believes it is critical that no one within these impact layers goes unnoticed. We hope that by providing these books as tools for our agencies to employ, the children of our communities have one more resource to help them cope.”

“Someone I Love Died from a Drug Overdose” provides difficult information in brief, truthful, age-appropriate language, therefore, allowing children to begin to process their grief. The story illustrates a boy who lost his father to an overdose. Following the story is a journal/scrapbook titled, “My Story.” Positive reflections and memories are encouraged, and expression is nurtured through the teaching of healthy coping skills when battling anger, sadness and frustration.

The author, Melody Ray, said she wrote the book to assist families in communicating honestly about loss, as well as to raise awareness regarding the needs of thousands of grieving children who have lost a loved one to a substance overdose.

“Losing a loved one to a substance overdose, and explaining this loss to a child, can be a very difficult task,” said Ray.

There were 1,776 overdose deaths reported in Tennessee in 2017, according to the Tennessee Department of Health Office and Informatics and Analytics. Of those reported deaths, 1,268 were from opioid overdoses. This is in comparison to the 1,166 overdose deaths that were reported in Tennessee in 2013.

If you or someone you know is battling substance abuse or dependency, there are resources available for assistance, including referrals to community partners and the Celebrate Recovery Community program.

To learn more about the Monroe County Drug Endangered Children’s Task Force or the Monroe County Prevention Coalition and what they offer, call 423-545-3015. You can also visit the website at www.monroe health.org.

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