Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Support group can help drug or alcohol death bereaved

Support group can help drug or alcohol death bereaved

“THAT night my hopes and dreams for my brother Dave, who had been trying to overcome substance misuse for a number of years, were cruelly taken away – with one pure dose of heroin.

“Two years on and I still miss him everyday. But now when I remember him, I smile, I remember the good times and thank God for the wonderful 32 years I got to share with him.

“I no longer dwell on the past but look forward to the future helping others who are in similar situations through the voluntary work I do.”  

That’s Sam, of Horsham, talking about the events that led to her becoming a supporter of the Group on the Green, which has just celebrated its first birthday – a year of supporting people who have been bereaved by a relative or friend’s misuse of drugs or alcohol.

The Group on the Green meets on the first Monday of every month at Southwick Community Church, Roman Crescent, Southwick, between 7pm-8.30pm.

It was set up by the West Sussex Drugs and Alcohol Action Team’s, Family and Friends Network, which runs drop in centres throughout the county for people who are affected by a relative or friend’s misuse of alcohol or drugs.

Sam – who is a volunteer at the Network’s Horsham centre – added: “Nothing will ever prepare you for that knock on the door. For me that dreadful moment came in the early hours when I opened the door to a woman police officer. My heart sank because I knew that she was coming to confirm my worse fears that my little brother was dead!

“His substance misuse had a devastating effect on our family. I remained in contact with him through his darkest moments and through the good times too.

“My initial reaction was one of disbelief. Once I began to accept the truth, I went almost in to a state of denial because I knew that was the only way that I would cope with all of the things to come, telling the other members of the family, dealing with the police, speaking to the coroner, the funeral and eventually the inquest.”

“There is life after the death of a loved one from substance misuse it is just different.”

Sam said the Group on the Green offers a free and confidential service. So far it has given support to eight bereaved friends and relatives of people who have died through drug or alcohol misuse.

She said: “Until the launch of the Group on the Green, there was little support for the bereaved. We can help show people there is life after the death of a loved one from substance misuse. It is just different and we can help you adjust.”

Pat, who is a Group on the Green client, said: “The bereavement group has helped me so much – the counselors are supportive, kind and caring.

“Listening to other members of the group also helps as you feel empathy for each other. I would recommend the bereavement group to anyone who has suffered the loss of a family member through alcohol or drug use.”

Pete Bradbury, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “Sam’s story highlights the value of the Group of on the Green. It shows that people are not necessarily alone when they are facing their darkest moments.”