From our new HoCoTimes reporter, Andrew Michaels, comes this article about the forming of a new bereavement group for family and friends of those lost to addiction. (Yes, that could really be a much better sentence but, at the moment, that's what I've got.) Addiction kills. And it leaves its own particular path of damage and destruction behind. Michaels writes:
After the loss of her boyfriend to a heroin overdose in March, Columbia resident Arielle Sokoll-Ward, 24, is creating a new chapter of the Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing organization. The Columbia group will be GRASP's fourth Maryland chapter alongside Perry Hall, Pikesville and Cecil County, and will meet the first Monday of every month starting July 6 at the Central Branch library.
The article has a lot of good information, not just about grieving and the stigma of drug addiction, but also about how people are getting hooked in the first place. Many begin through the misuse of prescription drugs. When pills become too expensive or impossible to get, heroin appears as a cheaper and more readily available option.
In Howard County, HC DrugFree provides education about alcohol and drug abuse and has also formed a partnership with Howard County Police to set up prescription drug disposal boxes to get rid of unneeded medications while preventing them from falling into the wrong hands. In Oakland Mills the Serenity Center hosts meetings for 12-Step groups to help people get and stay clean and sober both from alcohol and other substance abuse.
Serenity Center member Tyler Johnson did a lot of work with HC DrugFree, and spent many hours at this picnic table, talking to people struggling to break free of addiction. After his death in the Columbia Mall shooting, this beautiful spot was dedicated in his memory.
For those who are grieving, GRASP will provide a safe and supportive environment for those traveling their journey--of anger, denial, questioning, sadness. No one will be there to pass judgement on the experiences of anyone else. No one will be forced to make excuses for or cover up their pain.
A tip of the hat to Ms. Sokoll-Ward and also to Mr. Michaels for his comprehensive coverage.