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Families left with empty seat at Thanksgiving table thanks to opioid epidemic

For many families, this will be the first holiday season without a loved one who overdosed from drugs.

Hundreds of families across East Tennessee will have an empty seat around the Thanksgiving table next week as the opioid epidemic continues to claim lives. For many, it will be the first holiday season since their loved ones passed away from an overdose.

Families remember those victims all year round, but the holidays present a new challenge.

OD Epidemic Coverage

"Holidays are going to be totally different. They’re never going to be the same again," said Tim Webb, whose daughter, Brooke, overdosed and died in May. "Brooke always sat beside me. The chair will be there empty."

A daughter, his only daughter, taken from him far too early at the hands of opioids.

"She’s on my mind 24 hours a day," said Webb. "She will be more so that day."

Webb is part of a club in East Tennessee with far too many members. 260 people have died from suspected overdoses this year in Knox County. 260 families missing a loved one as people gather to celebrate the holidays.

Webb says the empty spot at the table where his daughter used to sit will never be filled.

"Even six years from now I don’t think I’ll feel any better than I do right now. It’s a pain that I will never get over," said Webb. "To honor my daughter, yes, there will be an empty spot at the table."

In a region where everyone knows someone affected by opioids, families struggling from the loss caused by addiction are far from alone.

The Knox County District Attorney’s Office will soon put up an overdose tree in the City County Building. Families can hang ornaments to remember their loved ones who died from overdoses.

The overdose tree at the city county building will go up on November 26.

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