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The Journal Gazette

Friday, November 09, 2018 1:00 am

Easing grief of drug deaths

Support group beginning to form

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Those mourning loved ones lost to substance use will soon have a grief support group of their own.

Details about the new group – possibly the first of its kind in the community – were shared Thursday during the first event in the Everyone's Epidemic Speaker Series focusing on substance use disorder.

Visiting Nurse, a nonprofit palliative care and hospice organization, partnered with regional experts on the series.

For about an hour, a few dozen people – including health care workers – listened as Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health officials described the local and nationwide effects of the drug crisis.

Susie Cisney of the health department summarized the rise of opioid addiction and consequences of the substance use disorder epidemic, including infectious outbreaks, more children requiring foster care, economic losses and – most significantly – the premature loss of life.

“Is there any hope to this problem?” Cisney said to the few dozen people gathered at the Peggy F. Murphy Community Grief Center on the Visiting Nurse campus. “We do believe there is hope.”

Just as multiple factors created the problem, so too will the solution require commitment from various entities, Cisney said.

“We want to treat this like any other medical problem,” she said.

The speaker series continues Jan. 31 with a focus on the signs of substance use disorder in children and family members. Fort Wayne Police Department Capt. Kevin Hunter is expected to participate.

Other dates are Feb. 28 and April 23. All events begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Peggy F. Murphy Community Grief Center, 5920 Homestead Road.

Healing Pathway, a support group for anyone who has lost someone to substance use disorder, begins meeting Nov. 14 at the grief center. It is free to attend. Hours are 5:30 to 7 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

David Wust, bereavement coordinator for Visiting Nurse, believes it's the first group of its kind in the community.

Go to or call 260-435-3261 for more information.