Valerie’s House Debuts Opioid Grief Support Group

Read on for one nonprofit's response to the impact of the opioid crisis on our community.

BY April 27, 2018


In yet another sign of the toll that opioid drugs are taking on Southwest Florida, a nonprofit children’s grief organization is setting up a special support group for kids who have lost loved ones to drug overdoses.

Valerie’s House will launch its new, 15-session program on Sunday at its Fort Myers location, 1762 Fowler St., Fort Myers, 33901. The group will meet from 2-4 p.m.

“The greatest fear for these families is that their children will also be drawn to drugs, either by way of coping or because they are curious as to what they witnessed when their loved one was addicted,” Angela Melvin, CEO and founder of Valerie’s House, said in a statement. “The curriculum we use for this group will discuss those fears and work with children and their caregivers so they don’t follow in the footsteps of their deceased loved one.”

The group, open to anyone in the community raising a child after the loss of a loved one due to drug abuse, will feature guest speakers from law enforcement and social service organizations.

In Florida in 2016, deaths caused by heroin rose 30 percent, deaths of fentanyl by 97 percent, and deaths by oxycodone by 28 percent over the previous year, according to the most recent Medical Examiners Commission Drug Report.

In Lee and Collier counties, 177 deaths were linked to hydrocodone, fentanyl, heroin and oxycodone. Another 304 deaths were tabulated under the “prescription drugs” category.

Drug use is taking a toll on children in other ways, too: In 2017, Lee and Collier counties had 688 cases of child abuse or neglect resulting from substance abuse, according to the Department of Children and Families. That included everything from opioid use to alcohol use.

For more information on the new Valerie’s House opioid support program, contact Laura Romig, the director of care and compassion, at (239) 841-9186 or


To read Gulfshore Life’s report on the growing abuse of heroin in Southwest Florida, click here.


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