Mom tells Pigeon Forge students: My sons never woke up

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Opioids laced with fentanyl are killing people in Tennessee at an alarming rate. The Centers for Disease control says 1,630 Tennesseans died in 2016.

In Sevier County alone, police have responded to more overdose cases than the entire Junior Class at Pigeon Forge High School. Thirteen of those died before help could arrive.

Becky Savage is someone who knows the pain opioids can cause. She lost two children to overdoses.

"It's a message I wish my kids would have heard," Savage said after sharing her story with Pigeon Forge High School students.

Her life changed on a Sunday morning in 2015 when she tried to wake her sons. They never opened their eyes. Both had overdosed and died in their sleep.

The message she spreads to teens now is one she wishes her sons heard.

"If they would have heard a story like theirs, they would have probably made a better choice that night. So, I think it's so important that I use their message."
Her sons Nick and Jack had been celebrating graduation. Doctors said the mixture of opioids and alcohol lead to their deaths.

"My goal every time I talk to a group of students, if I could just reach one kid and encourage one kid to make a better choice, then it was a success. Hopefully that message will trickle on to more kids," said Savage.

Sevier County's Chief Deputy Michael Hodges said he and his deputies have to deliver news of deaths to families all over the county. Many of the families he knows.

"So it becomes real. We want to stop it here. Get this message out and explain how important it is that it's a horrible choice. That we can make better choices in the future," said Hodges.

A conversation Savage wishes she would have had with her kids before that party.

"I was not aware that this problem was going on in my community. Or that it was a conversation I should have been having with my kids. So, that's why I think it's so important just to start those conversations with your kids," she said.

Savage talks to kids about an exit plan. Her advice when talking to your kids, tell them how to get out of a situation they don't want to be in.
She said it's important to remind kids they won't be in trouble by making sure they are safe.