NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A statewide helpline has been offering parents whose children battle drug use and addiction a one-on-one coach who has dealt with the same struggle.
Those coaches -- parents who have either lost a child to addiction or have a child in recovery -- have now been wanting to help other families in the same situation.
"It’s really difficult and lonely and scary when you’re dealing with your kids struggling with addiction," said Kristina Clark with Partnership for Drug Free Kids. "This is a great way of being able to reach out to someone who has sat there in your shoes and to feel support and love as you’re going through that difficult time."
Jacqueline Perrine, one of those parent coaches, lost her son, Adam Richardson, to opioid addiction in 2015.
Adam's addiction started when he was just a teenager.
"I would find a pill here or find something like tin foil, different things that indicate pills were there or pills were being smoked," Perrine said. "Initially I think I was in denial. I didn’t want to think about my child doing drugs."
Over time, Adam began using heroin instead of opioids. He overdosed and died when he was just 30 years old.
"I decided I need to be an advocate," Perrine said. "If I can get to one parent, one child, and save them through education or training, I needed to do that to keep my son’s memory alive."
Perrine said she has spoken to several families through her work with the helpline. It's a resource she wishes had existed when her son was still alive.
"I firmly believe if I had other parents to talk to and had learned communication instead of the typical arguing with someone who is high, I think the outcome for my son could have been different," she said.
If you or a loved one need help, you can call the helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE.