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Substance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

Bereavement support services

The Substance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction program offers a range of free bereavement support services for those who are grieving the loss of a Philadelphia resident due to substance use.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself or others and need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Telephonic crisis support is available by texting “START” to 741-741 or calling (800) 273-TALK (8255).

The overdose crisis has hit our city especially hard. Much of our work in Philadelphia has focused on trying to prevent overdoses and drug-related deaths. But our work should not — and does not — end there. Behind every death is a vast network of family and friends that are left shattered. Loved ones often face a complex grief experience that if left untreated can lead to trauma and other negative health consequences.

Our bereavement support services offer a safe space in the form of peer support groups, grief counseling, bereavement support for peers and clinicians, and more. We approach our clients with empathy and a commitment to support them during this difficult time.

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Grief workshops

Psychoeducational workshops on a variety of topics related to grief.

Learn more & sign up

Peer support groups

Virtual peer support groups are open to any adult who is:

  • 18+ years of age.
  • Grieving the loss of a Philadelphia resident who died from an accidental drug overdose.

Learn more & sign up

Grief counseling for adults 18+

Grief cannot be “cured,” but it can be managed, processed, and worked through in counseling that can:

  • Identify new coping skills.
  • Calm negative thoughts (i.e., guilt and self-blame).

Learn more & sign up

Grief counseling for children and adolescents

Developmentally appropriate counseling services that include:

  • Individual sessions.
  • Family sessions.

Learn more & sign up

Overdose memorial

Please join us in honoring the beautiful souls we have tragically lost to substance use in the Philadelphia area through our ongoing virtual memorial site.


Grief peers

Connect one-on-one with another individual grieving a substance use loss for support and connection.

Learn more & sign up

Bereavement support for peers and clinicians

Support groups for those who are interested in discussing and processing the grief and loss experienced through their work in the substance use community.

Learn more & sign up

Share your story

Many individuals grieving a substance use loss find purpose in sharing their stories with the hope that it may help somebody else.

Learn more & sign up

Data and prevention

  • OD Stat: Learn more about Philadelphia’s overdose death review team.
  • Substance Use Philly: Current data on substance use, misuse, and overdose trends.

Other bereavement resources

Many regional and national organizations provide support and resources to individuals and families who have lost a loved one to substance use.

Learn more


If you have general questions, please contact our team at If you have questions for our team members, please see Staff.


Laura Vargas, MSW, LCSW
Program Manager
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Kaitlin Worden, MSW, LSW
Bereavement Care Provider
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Shawanda Smith, MSW, LSW
Bereavement Care Provider
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Cadence Giles, M.A., LPC Candidate
Bereavement Care Provider
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Suzannah McNamara, M.S., LPC Candidate
Child and Adolescent Counselor
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Hannah Smith
Social Work Intern
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