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Lubbock moms host event to remember loved ones, end overdose

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:11 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:16 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - August 31 marks International Overdose Awareness Day, with communities all over the world raising awareness about the epidemic. A few Lubbock moms who’ve lost children to drug overdoses joined the movement. They hosted an event at the Heart of Worship church to help educate the community and remember their loved ones.

They used their personal experiences to help others with prevention and link them to resources.

“If we can prevent moms and dads from losing their children and experiencing what we did, then that’s our goal,” Lubbock mom Rhenea Mathis said.

Mathis lost her son Kevin to a heroin overdose when he was only 24 years old. She said he tried to get away from it and got a job to keep himself busy.

“Wrong place, wrong time. His tolerance had gone down so he took the same amount that he was used to and, he overdosed that night,” Mathis said.

Cindy Lira is a recovering addict, clean from meth for 17 years. She wanted a different life for her daughter Mariah, but she died from an overdose in 2020 at 22 years old.

“I waited for that day for her to call me and say ‘Mommy, I need help,’ you know. And it never came,” Lira said.

Tonia Soto says her oldest son Chris struggled with addiction for a while and was in and out of rehab. At one point, he had been out of rehab for six months, but decided he needed to go back.

“The day I picked him up, this was in 2016. In October of 2016, I picked him up and the next morning he was gone,” Soto said.

All three moms want to help other parents and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths.

“If there’s something I want to remember about my daughter, she’s human, as I was human and in my addiction. She just wasn’t one of the lucky ones to make it out,” Lira said.

“When you think of Kevin, I don’t want you to think of addict, drug addict, drug dealer. My son was human. My son was very intelligent. He was happy. He was very caring. He loved well,” Mathis said.

“Even if you’re dealing with addiction, you are still a person. Underneath everything, you are still a person. You are someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, child, aunt, uncle. You are still there and we want to create an environment where you are seen, where you’re not left behind and where you matter,” Soto said.

They want to create a space for families to mourn and raise their voice so that others don’t have to mourn.

“If you speak out instead of staying quiet about it, I think we can make a difference. You know, there are so many resources. but you just have to speak out,” Lira said.

In 2017, Mayor Dan Pope declared August 31 “Overdose Awareness and Remembrance Day” in Lubbock. He read that proclamation at the church Tuesday, re-declaring it. These mothers say they hope to host this event every year and want to start an outreach for those struggling with addiction and their families to find support.

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