Brad Byrd In-Depth: 7 Sisters fighting opioid crisis

The opioid crisis has been declared a national emergency and has had its own impact here on the Tri-State.

A local group of women called "7 Sisters" has come together to remember and to honor the siblings they've lost to this epidemic. They're mission is to educate and provide recovery options to stop the tragedy of opioid addiction.

Brad Byrd talks with 7 Sisters members Adrianna O'Daniel and Katie Keown-Carley about how opioid abuse claimed there loved ones' lives and how they're trying to help others avoid the same fate.

Transcription of interview:

Brad Byrd: "Welcome to In-Depth. It has been declared a national emergency and has had its own impact here on the Tri-State. The opioid crisis. A local group of women have come together to remember, to honor the siblings they've lost to this epidemic -- with a mission to educate and provide recovery options to stop the tragedy of opioid addiction. The group is called "7 sisters." I'm joined tonight by two of its members -- Adrianna O'Daniel and Katie Keown-Carley. Thank you so much for sharing your stories tonight.  Two million American's are addicted to prescriptiong painkillers. We are talking about two of those people tonight who we lost. Two brothers we're talking about. Let's share those stories. Adrianna, Nick was your brother."

Adrianna O'Daniel: "Yes, he was loved by so many and lost at a very young age - 24 years old. It was very sudden for our family. We were very unaware of. This is him. We were very unaware of what was going on and what he was going through personally. And he was always so strong for everyone else and I feel that everyone else always went to him for guidance and love. But he held that in whenever he needed  help the most and now we're without him at this point. He did have opioids in his system when his toxicology did come back. So that is how we became known as the "7 Sisters." 

Brad Byrd: "And Katie, your brother, Corey."

Katie Keown-Carley: "My brother, Corey. He was an amazing guy. Had a heart of gold. He would give his shirt off the back for anybody. He suffered from addiction at a young age. I would say he started in high school recreation drugs and went on to other drugs and alcohol. And then went on to opioids. And then what took his life was heroin laced with fentanyl." 

Brad Byrd: "So, you all came together. First of all, did you see this coming at all? I'm going to go ahead and take the pictures too so we can get a good shot of this if we can control room. This is Corey, and this is Nick. Did you see this coming at all?"

Adrianna O'Daniel: "No, it was a complete shock to our family. We had never dealt with anything as far as addiction. And I think Nick was too proud to admit that he was suffering from depression and alcoholism and it was definitely a closeted illness. We went through a few family deaths that hit him the hardest. That night. I mean it was the perfect storm. So, now I'm sitting here today with seven. Six other women trying to get awareness out so that other people don't feel the need to keep it bottled up inside."

Brad Byrd: "And Katie, you knew that Corey did have issues."

Katies Keown-Carley: "We did know. And corey had been in rehab a couple different times. He suffered from addiction and he. At the end of the day just the drugs overtook and the addiction won. So we did know there was always that chance that my brother could die of something or. Our biggest fear was this. That he could overdose or die."

Brad Byrd: "And both of you kind of shared the same feeling that your brothers kind of wanted to get off by themselves. They did not want to burden the family.'

Adrianna O'Daniel: "Right."

Brad Byrd: "While this was going on and this, when we speak about, we're talking about several families right here in the Tri-State and what this can lead with. Now, you shared with me Adrianna that nick took his own life while he had opioids in his system and that he had shot himself."

Adrianna O'Daniel: "Yes."

Brad Byrd: "He was so trapped by this."

Adrianna O'Daniel: "I think he was just so depressed and he had had a few drinks and he did have some opioids in his medicine cabinet. And so there was definitely a large amount in his system when he shot himself, but I know that that is not what he would have wanted to do." 

Brad Byrd: "And Katie, the heartbreaking aspect of your situation was there was another person who passed away."

Katie Keown-Carley: "There was. My cousin, Christopher." 

Brad Byrd: "And you say they were both together." 

Katie Keown-Carley: "They were both together, and they both died together in each other's arms." 

Brad Byrd: "So, they perhaps saw this coming, or they just felt that there was no hope?" 

Katie Keown-Carley: "You know, we weren't there that night. We're not really sure from just who went first and everything, I mean just that they were both in hands together, and we were told that they died peacefully." 

Brad Byrd: "So, where does this group of 7 Sisters go from here? I know there is going to be a 5K run on November 18, but the goal you're trying to reach here obviously is to tear down the stereotypes because there are five other women here: Lindsey Lacosto, Casey Blake, Erin Purdue, Kari Leach, and Allie Fields. They lost siblings too. So what is this group trying to achieve? How can seven women right here in the Tri-State make a difference? What do you want to do?" 

Adrianna O'Daniel: "Well, we just want to raise awareness and to let families know there are resources out there. We visited the W.A.R.M. Center recently in Henderson which is a center for women, but they're going through addiction. And they were open arms, and all the girls there are taken care of. So, we were fortunate to go and see that part of it, and then also there's a men's center in Owensboro. And we just want to raise awareness, so families feel they can seek out help." 

Katie Keown-Carley: "And it's okay to talk about it and to express the sadness and everything that comes along with having a sibling or child that does suffer from addiction and that it's okay and there is help out there and you're not alone." 

Brad Byrd: "You were telling me in both cases. You kept referring to it as a disease, and this was basically good people making wrong choices early in life. Once they were trapped, they were trapped."

Katie Keown-Carley: "That's right. And everyday, my brother tried to overcome this awful disease, and he fought hard. He didn't want to die. It's not like he wanted to wake up and die that day. He did one drug to another and wanted to seek that high that I guess he needed or wanted and basically it took his life." 

Brad Byrd: "And the 5K run, Family Fun Run, will be held at the Eykamp Scout Center. I believe we have graphic on that if we could through that up. On November 18, and it gets underway at 8 a.m. out there on the east side. And you're hoping to just bring people together. And basically, we got to get this on the table, just talk about it, and then get to the resources. And that can be tough. It was tough for you, Katie, because the money involved to get help." 

Katie Keown-Carley: "Right, I felt there weren't a lot of resources for my brother here in Evansville. And thankfully, there was a family member who was able to send my brother away and get the treatment that he needed, but that cost a lot of money, the time. He was worth it, definitely worth it. But at the end of the day, the drugs were too powerful." 

Brad Byrd: "And if we could put up the 7 Sisters Facebook page, you can get more information on this. And donations, you are selling one of jewelers. You got them here on the table." 

Katie Keown-Carley: "Yes, can I hold them up?" 

Brad Byrd: "Go right ahead." 

Katie Keown-Carley: "You guys are welcome to stop in to Gelhausen Florals on the east side, and there are bracelets part of the proceeds go to the 7 Sisters to help raise awareness." 

Brad Byrd: "Okay, and we're talking about people like these two gentlemen right here that we lost too soon to the final impact of the opioid addiction: Nick and Corey. Adrianna and Katie, thank you so much for being with us tonight and sharing you story. And best to you on this endeavour on November 18." 

Adrianna and Katie: "Thank you." 

(This story was originally published on October 17, 2017)


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