0324 GMT November 15, 2019
“I talked to Jan because I knew Jan was going through the same thing but I didn’t talk to anybody else about it. It was a secret. People in my church, when Brandon passed away, said ‘why didn’t you tell us you were going through this?’ It’s just something you didn’t go around talking about,” said Wood, whose Brandon died in October 2017 of an opioid overdose at the age of 21, indexjournal.com reported.
For the past year, the women have quietly hosted a support group that includes two other families with children who are fighting the disease of addiction. They meet weekly and find catharsis in their shared pain.
“Ritually, we go because that hour — two hours sometimes — it’s such a relief to be able to sit there and tell how you’re feeling and know that the others understand, without judging. It’s one thing to be fighting or going through the battle with a spouse or someone you care about or whatever, but when it’s your child, it’s a total different fight,” Bradshaw said.
“We do want to be there to help other people.”
This week, ahead of a story in the Index-Journal identifying their support group, they created an email address for people who need a safe haven to speak on a loved one’s battle with opioids: email@example.com.
It was created in honor of Wood, a standout soccer player at Ninety Six High School who wore that jersey number.
In addition to offering emotional strength, Bradshaw said the weekly sessions allow for an exchange of information about resources and sober living facilities.
“For somebody that doesn’t have those connections, you don’t know where to turn,” Bradshaw said.
“Sometimes we laugh, we cry, we’re there to support each other, but each one of us are at different stages in the battle.”
Teresa Roy, the director of community outreach at Cornerstone, a drug recovery organization based in Greenwood in South Carolina said several programs and services are in place to help those looking to dispose of opioids and battle addiction.
“The Greenwood Abbeville Coalition (GAC) was convened by Cornerstone a little over a year ago as a response to the opioid epidemic. Coalition members represent 20+ local agencies as well as the general community and work to provide awareness and education of this issue and the resources available locally. Another key goal of this group is to reduce the stigma and shame with which many persons are confronted when they attempt to seek help for substance use disorders,” she wrote in an email.
“The coalition has made at-home prescription drug disposal bags available to community members to allow for safe disposal of any unwanted or unneeded medications. The Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office also has an onsite lockbox for the safe disposal of medication that can be accessed by the community at any time.”
Wood said her son anguished over his inability to escape the need for opioids.
“I can’t tell you how many times I sat there with Brandon all night long, him crying his eyes out, ‘I hate how it makes me feel and I do stuff to my family that I would have never done and I just hate it, and I don’t know how to stop’,” she said.
“I think it just helps to know that each person is not going through it alone and just to be there and talk and sound off to teach others.”