Mon County Rapid Response Team Hosts Bereavement Support Group for Loved Ones of Overdose Victims

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the COVID-19 pandemic grows, there’s a calmer outbreak that’s been plaguing West Virginia for years: an overdose.

According to the National Institutes of Health, West Virginia has the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 people. Every life lost due to an overdose leaves behind family and friends. The Monongalia County Quick Response Team (QRT) Bereavement Support Group holds meetings on the first and third Mondays of each month to assist grieving families.

There is a need for this specific type of bereavement support group, noted Mark A. Liptrap, Monongalia County Health Department social worker and QRT member. “There’s a big difference between losing someone to an overdose and losing someone to other causes. There’s a lot of stigma that happens,” Liptrap said. “When someone finds out that your loved one died of an overdose, their support goes to judgment.” For example, Liptrap noted, his clients have shared heartbreaking stories about what some of their friends or family members told them after the death of partner because of an overdose. “They’ve heard things like, ‘You’re better off without him’ or ‘You dodged a bullet,'” Liptrap said. “We all need to work together to reduce that stigma. “

The next meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 20 at Sabra United Methodist Church, 1234 Richwood Avenue. Participants should have no trouble finding the entry to use to find the group; Pastor Stephen Prince painted the door bright yellow to make it easier to find.

Stephen Prince and Mark Liptrap run a QRT bereavement support group in Mon County

Prince and Liptrap will lead the meetings, joined by another QRT member who lost a loved one to an overdose. This means that while Prince and Liptrap can bring their professional skills to the table, there will also be someone with direct experience of this particular type of grief who can demonstrate that no one should go through it alone.

The Monongalia County Health Department received a grant to establish the multi-agency QRT, which is dedicated to reducing opioid use and overdose. First responders, public health, peer recovery coaches and others meet weekly to strategize on ways to help. Peer recovery coaches make phone calls and go out and knock on doors to try to speak to anyone who has overdosed within 24 to 72 hours to help connect them to services and ultimately treatment. Since its launch in early 2019, the QRT has also provided training on naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, and other resources for those in need of support.

Liptrap, who works with individuals to find needed resources in the community, has heard stories from clients about their treatment after the death of a loved one due to substance abuse. “In this group,” he said, “the specific need of someone who has lost someone to an overdose is going to be heard, valued, appreciated, supported, cared for and nurtured without judgment. “.

A Liptrap client, who wishes not to be named, was happy to reunite with the band, having lost a loved one to an overdose. “I realized there was a need for a group of this nature in the region,” she said. “Having had regular group therapy and grief group therapy in the past, it’s important to be able to talk to someone who can really understand you when other people might be judgmental.”

Judgment surrounding substance use disorder is no secret. According to the US Addiction Centers, 1 in 3 Americans will know someone who will die of an overdose, which means it’s more important than ever to provide support for those who have lost a loved one to a overdose. “If someone is concerned about any type of judgment surrounding their grief, this is the band for them,” Liptrap said.

Liptrap’s client found it particularly helpful to attend the bereavement support group and talk to those who had been through similar situations. “It’s so important to have resourceful people who are able to use tragedy to bring more love, kindness, care and compassion into the world,” she said.

After this patient suggested a support group for those who have lost someone to an overdose or substance use disorder, Prince suggested Sabra United Methodist Church as the venue. meeting.

Because the support group is connected to the QRT, participants can also receive other types of help and access resources. “There is more to the loss than the grief,” Prince said. “They might need help with rent or with their kids.”

More information about the Monongalia County QRT can be found at monchd.org/mon-co-qrt.html.

Virginia S. Braud