When four women from The Woodlands area lost their sons to drug overdoses, they went looking for someone who could relate to them. What they found was a community of hundreds wanting to raise awareness about overdose deaths and remember those who have passed.

“The first couple of months I was in denial, and I was like, ‘No, that doesn’t apply to me,’” said Sarah Hall, one of the founders of the Montgomery County Overdose Prevention Endeavor. “Then I just realized I needed more help than what I could do on my own.”

Hall, Kim Rosinski and Sherry Barton met in Kathy Posey’s Grief Recovery After Substance Passing group. Posey is the group’s leader for The Woodlands.

In 2020, the four women decided to do something to honor their children and created M-COPE, an organization that plans an annual event in honor of International Overdose Prevention Day.

“It was in the middle of the pandemic, so we were kind of limited to a balloon release in a park,” Hall said. “In April of last year, we started talking, and then it just grew.”

Their 2021 Overdose Awareness Day event brought in 250 people. The 2022 event brought in over 300 attendees and 60 volunteers. Gov. Greg Abbott headlined this year’s event, where he announced his support for a law that could allow dealers to be charged with murder for distributing laced drugs. Abbott also announced initiatives including expanded access to Narcan, an opioid overdose treatment.

Posey said the four pillars M-COPE emphasizes in its outreach are education, prevention, remembrance and awareness.

“The only way that you can make any kind of change is if you make people aware of it,” she said.

One obstacle to obtaining treatment for addiction is insurance, members of the group said. Rosinski said when her son went to rehab, insurance only covered 30 days.

“[Addiction] is a disease, and we need to start educating and lobbying for changes—for the insurance companies to start treating it as an illness and as a disease, not just as a choice,” she said.

Posey said one of her son’s sponsors pushed her to do something to help herself as well as her son.

“When you’re in this kind of situation, educate yourself wherever you can so that you’re armed because you can’t cure what they have. You can’t control it,” Posey said.

Hall said the group’s goals for the coming year include establishing a program in Montgomery County area schools.

“The [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] program didn’t necessarily work. We need to find something that will work and get in there and be able to talk to [kids],” she said. Rosinski said she hopes the group can help share with others the idea that recovery is possible for both addicts and their families.

“Don’t ever give up,” Rosinski said. “There’s always hope. I wanted that for my son, and obviously that didn’t happen, but I still believe in hope for others.”

Montgomery County Overdose Prevention Endeavor