Grieving Parents and Families Who Have Lost Loved Ones to Addiction and Overdose Come Together to Find Healing and Support

Press Release October 10, 2016
Media Contact

<h2 class="subtitle">
<p>Denise Cullen 714-865-7879, <a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a></p>

There has been an explosion of overdose deaths throughout the country, with 47,000 Americans dying from an overdose in 2014 more than from either car crashes or guns. One hundred people who have felt the pain of losing a loved one to overdose and addiction will gather in Atlanta this week to heal, support and become stronger harm reduction advocates.

The GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) 2016 Conference and Retreat, sponsored by Broken No More and the Drug Policy Alliance, will be held in Atlanta, GA on October 13th – 16th at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina.

The participants of this conference are those who have lost a loved one to overdose and other causes related to drug use and are a special group whose grief is complicated by the stigma surrounding this kind of death. They come to GRASP to find comfort and support from others who have experienced this loss. But for some, they find more. Their involvement with GRASP is often the first time they have been exposed to a different way of understanding the consequences of the failed “War on Drugs.” This understanding, for many, is the catalyst for action. It is the beginning of advocacy.

“There is a universal in this world. It is the love of a parent for their child,” said Denise Cullen, LCSW, Executive Director of GRASP/Broken No More. “This love has no limit. And as the child grows, becomes an adult, the love of a parent also grows. The loss of that child, the death of that child – the depth of a parent’s pain cannot be described.”

The GRASP conference will bring together an estimated 100 participants, many who have never met except through social media. The conference will provide a means for the participants to channel their grief into action, into advocacy, to force positive change in the drug policies of this country on the local, state, and national level.
The conference will consist of three days of meetings, policy discussions, and social activities which will serve to comfort, educate, and bond the participants into a cohesive group.


“Those attending this conference have had their lives shattered by the loss of their loved one,” said Cullen. “All of us walk a road that is paved with the pain of that loss. But through GRASP, we walk it together, hand in hand and heart to heart. We are not alone. We are family. We are GRASP.”

To learn more about the advocacy efforts of the Drug Policy Alliance and Broken No More/GRASP click here.

To learn more about GRASP and Broken No More visit or

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.