Just reviewing current headlines or turning on the nightly local or national news validates the need for this relatively new grief support group known as SOLSTUS.
For instance, in 2015 there were 53 deaths due to drug overdoses in Forsyth County; in 2005, there were 13. In Yadkin County, there were five deaths attributed to drug overdoses in 2015, the same as in 2005. In Stokes County, there were 13 drug-related deaths; two were reported in 2005. Overall, there has been a 73- percent increase in drug-related deaths in North Carolina since 2005.
These statistics are sobering proof of the need not only to address the drug problem as a whole, but also to help those who grieve for loved ones lost to drug addiction.
The first support group began meeting in October of 2017 in Forsyth and Stokes Counties with plans to offer similar programs in all 17 counties supported by Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care. Selene Teague, BSW, Outreach Provider Representative for Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care, acts as a co-facilitator along with Kim Wagner-Evans in the group sessions. Partnering to offer SOLSTUS along with Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care are ARCA (Addiction Recovery Care Association, a residential drug and alcohol treatment center), the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County, and Cardinal Innovations. Selene shared, “Greensboro Hospice & Palliative Care has a similar program. We spoke with their counselors and found that families describe that program as a lifesaver. From personal experience, I understand the loss families and friends go through, as well as the stigma associated with death due to an overdose.”
Becoming part of a group session may be unfamiliar to many. Selene explains what a typical session entails; “It’s an opportunity to talk about loss in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Groups are generally around ten people at varying levels in the grief process. There is a registration process in place to confirm whether participation would be beneficial prior to joining the group.” Individual grief counseling is also available through Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care.
What is a SOLSTUS session?
- The group is open to anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one to an overdose death, regardless of their relationship to the deceased.
- SOLSTUS meetings are held the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month in Forsyth County and the fourth Thursday in Stokes County with each session lasting 1½ hours.
- New participants complete a short registration form.
- The group sessions adhere to HIPPA regulations. All discussions are considered confidential and are not to be discussed outside the parameters of the meetings.
- Although the facilitators have a planned topic/agenda for each meeting, the sessions are an open forum format and participants often take the lead in discussions.
- The meeting atmosphere is relaxed and in a home-like setting.
- All discussions are judgment-free with open dialogue encouraged.
- Each session begins with a review of the SOLSTUS support group guidelines.
- Participants are a mix of couples and individuals at a variety of grief levels.
- Facilitators often provide resource information and/or suggestions on coping tools to utilize between sessions. A booklet, Surviving the Grief of an Overdose Death, is offered to new participants.
- Interaction outside the group is on a strictly voluntary basis.
Contact Selene Teague via (336.710.9205) or by e-mail ([email protected]) with questions or for more information about SOLSTUS. Support is available.
For additional information about services offered via Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care, visit their website (mtnvalleyhospice.org) or call 888.789.2922.
For confidential screenings, referrals, and emergency counseling, please call the 24/7 Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Access Line: 1.800.939.5911.