Dec. 2, 2022 – In a nation that suffered more than 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021 alone, there are many Greenvilles — places where the powerful opioid fentanyl and other drugs have produced clusters of overdose deaths, or picked off victims one at a time. Here, drugs worked their way inexorably through a group of friends, year after year, for nearly a decade. In one family, loss piled upon tragic loss until almost no one was left.  The deaths shattered families and shook the worldview of parents who believed the drug subculture affected other people’s children. Many are still mystified at how addiction invaded the fortress they had tried to construct from comfortable homes and good schools.

Some have sought to find meaning in their children’s deaths, urging the community to acknowledge the drug crisis in its midst and take steps to prevent more young people from dying.

“It was getting to the point that we couldn’t ignore it anymore,” said Maria Rodriguez-Cue, whose son, Mingo, died in 2017, at age 22. “You could pretend that this couldn’t happen to you … [but] it could happen to any of us. And it continues to happen.”