EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – It is an American tragedy. Hiding in plain sight.

Perhaps you have a friend or family member who’s living with the heartbreak of losing a loved one to addiction.

The group Seven Sisters, Tri-State women who lost siblings from the tragedy of addiction.

Seven Sisters is offering its first support group meeting for friends and family impacted by addiction next Monday, May 20th.

More information about 7 Sisters can be found here.

Full Transcription:

Brad Byrd: Welcome to In-Depth. It is an American tragedy. Sometimes hiding in plain sight. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who are living with the heartbreak of losing a loved one to addiction. The group called Seven Sisters, Tri-State women who lost siblings from the tragedy of addiction.

Seven Sisters is offering its first support group meeting for friends and family impacted by addiction next Monday, May 20th.

And joining us tonight is Lisa Seif Psychotherapist and social worker. She is certified in addiction counseling and is a certified court substance abuse specialist. She has been involved in addiction counseling for 35 years. And Lindsay Locasto, founding member of Seven Sisters. Lindsay and Lisa thank you for being here tonight.

Lindsay Locasto: Thank you for having us.

Lisa Seif: Thank you.

Brad: This can sometimes be difficult, but we appreciate you sharing your story, Lindsay. And Lisa sharing your expertise on this tragedy that’s been going on, not just in the last couple of years, but for a long, long time. Lindsay, we want to put a human face and a name on this. Tell me about Sam.

Lindsay: My brother, Sam, I lost in January of 2017 to a fentanyl overdose. Sam was 27 yrs. Old – he had a girlfriend; he had a job at the time. You know, it was heartbreaking. We received that call that nobody ever wants to receive that your family member has passed away from this addiction they have been struggling with. We grew up in a very loving family, a great area, we went to great schools and Sam made decisions that other people make, but whatever his path took him down a road to where it ended in heartbreak.

Brad: And we were just seeing some photographs there of Lindsay and Sam. And Lisa, this kind of speaks volumes – this was a loving family – we’ve got an All-American sister and brother there at a very young age, then several years later as young adults. Tell me about that aspect of it – the stereotypes that are unfairly associated with people who may be suffering from an addiction.

Lisa: You know, I think you’re going to hear universally on every corner that we understand the stigma and stereotype is still one of our barriers. And to break those down, I think Judge Trockman has started the treatment court, where prosecutors, and other judges, law enforcement, defense attorney’s have to understand this thing is an illness. Youth Resources, Youth First, a lot of agencies here are talking about this as an illness and a disease. And what’s so impressive is the 7 Sisters all talking about it as an illness, as a condition that somebody has, not a moral defective character, that’s good.

Brad: And Lindsay, talking. Your brother reached out for help to the family. How did you talk to him?

Lindsay: You know, it was a long road. There was one time whenever he did say I have a problem, I need help. And we did take him to a facility, and he came out of treatment and was fine for a while, then relapsed. It happens, the relapse will happen, and it did with Sam. And then we had an intervention with a wonderful man Dale Seitz and he (Sam) went back to treatment – he unfortunately left that treatment facility without completing it and three months later he passed away.

Brad: Why is this so hard to beat, Lisa? Once you’re addicted, even if you’re not addicted, why is this so hard and difficult to beat? Perfect example right here with Sam, he had been in and out, in and out.

Lisa: Maybe the mindset Brad of beating it is not the way to go. Because we can’t beat cancer, we can’t beat heart disease, we can beat diabetes – I don’t think we can beat mental health and addictive disorders, but we can put them in remission, we can get people in recovery and they can change their lifestyles through the help of support groups. The 12 step programs – people’s lives have been revolutionized, so I’m not sure they ever beat it. Cause the problem isn’t the drink and the drug, the problem is sober and clean.

Brad: And we were talking in the newsroom Lindsay, and there were times you were downright mad at Sam.

Lindsay: Sure, sure. You know, many families have reached out to 7 Sisters saying they’re angry and they don’t know what to do and I felt those feelings of anger and just wondering why. And having that group to talk those things over, people that have been in similar situations, family members who have been in similar situations, let myself and the other 7 Sisters know that we’re not alone and those are normal feelings that happen.

Brad: There is some self-denial in all this and I’m sure there was self-denial in Sam, and you may have been in denial that this was happening.  When did you see this coming?

Lindsay: You know, you never want to think that your loved one is struggling with something and you want to think they can beat this, and they will get well.  And there were times that I worried about my brother and worrying that there was going to be two calls; are you gonna be in jail? Or are we gonna get the call that you died? And unfortunately, we did receive that call. And it’s one that you know, you think it’s gonna happen, then you don’t think it’s really going to happen until it does happen to you.

Brad: And that first support group meeting, if we could have that graphic up on the screen is next Monday at the YWCA and you’re serving as a facilitator and moderator on this. And just tell me as far as self-denial, you’ll be talking a little bit about everything, but especially for siblings. People like Lindsay, who dealt with this, with her brother.

Lisa: Yea, they’re the forgotten children in the family system sometimes – siblings. So, these 7 girls are coming out of hiding and saying this affects us, it affects our parents, which affects us – it puts the spotlight on the whole family system, which is a piece we’ve been unfortunately been missing a lot in the treatment world, working with the family.

Brad: And very briefly, Lindsay, speaking of another kind of peace, are you at peace with all of this? What would you tell Sam now if you could talk to him?

Lindsay: You know, the last thing that I said to my brother was that I believed in him and I had faith in him and that he could get well, and I loved him. And I do think that he had that, but he just wasn’t ready at the time. And having peace, I don’t know that I’ll ever have peace, but having this group of women in my corner, is a group I can reach out to has definitely made this journey more copiable.

Brad Byrd: Lisa Seif, thank you for being with us tonight. And Lindsey Lacosta thank you for sharing your story. Take care of yourself too.

Lisa: Thank you.

Lindsey: Thank you.

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(This story was originally published on May 14, 2019)