HERTFORD, N.C. - A family in Hertford has experienced enough pain to last a lifetime, losing two sons within two years of one another.
"I think they both wanted to be clean but I just don't think that they could do it," said Marty Hurdle.
Alex and Johnny Barclift Jr., two brothers, were 32-years-old when they overdosed and died.
Heartbroken, their mother Sheryl Hurdle, said life has been devastating since their death. "My oldest, he actually overdosed on methadone -- methadone and cocaine," she said. "Everybody thinks it won't happen to me but it's been happening to everybody."
Across the country, states are reporting an increase in overdoses and relapses, which is a grave reality for Sheryl and Marty Hurdle. They said their boys tried to quit the drugs for years.
"He was like, 'Mom I just wish you would understand I'm trying. I'm trying,'" Sheryl said.
Sheryl said the family tried all avenues to help Alex and Johnny including tough love, rehab and financial, physical and emotional support. However, they said state and local resources were lacking when it came to assisting the men in sobriety.
"The bad thing is they have short term rehabs around here. People need long-term rehab and they can't afford it, most of them," she said. "If they are able to get help at a short-term facility, they come back home and it’s the same thing. The same thing is going on [and] there is nothing for people to do. [They fall back in with] their same friends. [The only way to break the cycle of addiction is] to completely change their lifestyle."
The Hurdle's know that they are not the only ones living through the opioid epidemic, but at times they said it felt like they were alone. To help themselves and others they created a support group that connects families in the community.
"I couldn't save mine, but maybe if we can make some changes and if people can help each other, support each other maybe we can save someone else," Sheryl said.
The group was meeting in-person, talking about warning signs and sharing personal stories, until the pandemic paused that. Now they are using Facebook to connect through the Weakest Link - Anti Drug Abuse Coalition page.
Sheryl said it feels like families and children are the "weakest links" that need to come together to be strengthened.
The page is a place for members to share articles, educational information or even just words of encouragement. In only a few months, the group has 339 members and counting.
"There is strength in numbers and if we can get as many people to help us in our mission I think we can make a difference," she said.
They hope to one day be able to hold the meetings virtually.
"Every parent knows their youngin' when they are not on drugs. That person is still there, just don't give up," said Marty.
Click here to join the Weakest Link Facebook group.