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Local advocates rally in D.C., raise awareness of drug abuse epidemic

Lights of Hope event on Saturday to...

Drug overdose deaths are at a record high in this country. According to the CDC, 129 people die each day because of a drug overdose.

President Obama has declared this week, Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.

According to the Tennessee Health Department, nearly 8 million opioid prescriptions were written, last year. That's more than the number of people in the state.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring has announced new efforts to prevent overdose deaths that focus on education.

From Washington D.C. back to Bristol, two women are working toward change.

"Washington is listening, and that's a good sign," Rhonda Coffey said.

Over the weekend, Rhonda Coffey and Jennifer Miller stood with thousands of others at the nation's Capitol to demand more treatment, funding and help in the fight against drugs.

"The rally was necessary to remind Congress, remind the President - that he promised these things and we need them," Coffey said.

Through the rally, Coffey had one thing on her mind - her son. More than a year ago, David died after overdosing on drugs. Since then, she has been working with people like Miller to raise awareness of the issue.

Miller is the director of the Carter County Anti-Drug Coalition. It's a position she took after watching her son deal with his drug addiction for years. After a long battle, her son is now 17 months sober.

For Miller, working with Coffey is one step toward ending the stigma. 

"It's not something to be ashamed of," Miller said. "It's not something to hide. It's not something to try to cover up."

It's a message they hope to spread not just for a week, but every day.

"We just want to offer hope to the community and let people know that there is hope," Miller said. "My son is proof of that."

Both Coffey and Miller will be at the Lights of Hope event in Bristol, this Saturday. This is part of a nationwide campaign. It will be at Cumberland Square Park, starting at 1 p.m.

Coffey said there will be speakers, music, free food and activities for kids. They will also do a balloon release, a candle lighting ceremony and showcase 129 shoes to represent 129 lives lost each day.


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