Bristol families have come together to remember victims of addiction amid concerns over lack of funding for support services.
A memorial was held earlier this month to allow family members to hear readings and personal stories from those affected by addiction.
This year’s event followed the publication of recent figures which revealed a record high number of drug-related deaths in Bristol.
Two Bristol parents, who wished to remain anonymous, attended the memorial at St James Priory following the death of their daughter Aby, 25, in 2018.
“She was addicted to alcohol since her late teens and struggled with mental health,” they said.
“It was a tragic waste. She was a beautiful girl.
“Addiction is an illness. It’s an illness many of them are afflicted with after their first drink.
“[The memorial] was overwhelming in the fact so many people were feeling the same.
“They understand the struggle she went through.”
The couple also attend a monthly support group organised by Bereavement Through Addiction, which allows them to discuss the impact addiction has had on their family without judgement.
“Everyone else in the group is in a similar position,” they said.
“They understand you and it’s a safe place.
“We have been very lucky and had a lot of supportive friends too who loved our daughter but not everybody has that.
“There’s still a stigma attached to addiction. There are some very judgemental people around.”
The memorial service was organised by Bereavement Through Addiction, launched by parents Joan and Paul who lost a child as a result of addiction in 2008.
“If someone dies from cancer or an accident, whole families and friends are offered counselling and support. We had nothing and felt ostracised in our community,” they said.
“Some people suggested ‘aren’t you relieved it is all over’.
“In fact, we would gladly have the chaos and pain back, to have him alive and still have hope of his recovery.”
If you are affected by someone’s drinking or drug use, you can get support here.
If you are a user yourself and want to get help, you can find more information here.
Anyone who would like to find out more about the event or speak to a family member about their loss, can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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