Forum Presentation

Forum Presentation

View Forum Presentation

2024 OFR National Forum: Next-of-Kin Engagement and Support

Publication Date: 3/13/2024

Supporting Families After an Overdose Loss in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin: Social Workers at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office  

The Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Overdose Fatality Review Team identified a lack of support services for families experiencing an overdose loss. Through multiagency collaboration, a social work position was piloted and then expanded into two positions with Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP) funding received by the medical examiner’s office. Since September 2021, the social workers have reached out to families who have lost someone to overdose and successfully reached more than three out of four families. Families are provided grief and bereavement support as well as referrals to county and community agencies to address specific needs voiced by the families, including individualized therapy, risk of overdose among other family members, and guardianship support. This session will describe the evolution of the social work positions, including the addition of next-of-kin interviews, and share lessons learned for communities considering similar positions. 

Losing a Loved One to an Overdose: Grief and Loss Support Group 

After a death caused by substance use, people experience grief as others do after the death of a beloved person from any cause. A substance-use-related death also can bring with it challenges and hardships in coping with grief that are unique to this kind of loss. This presentation will discuss how Hamilton County, Ohio, Public Health’s overdose fatality review and next-of-kin interviews found that support for family and friends was critical after an overdose fatality. The presenters will also discuss the creation of the Grief and Loss Support Group for overdose death, partnerships, and sustainability. 

Keywords: Next-of-Kin