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Parents of Man Lost to Overdose Grateful for National Opioid Crisis Attention

A year after 23-year-old Thomas Snachez lost his life to an overdose, his parents are now finding hope in the fact that the opioid crisis has been declared a public health emergency.

The family is still morning the loss of their loved one, but say this is a step in the right direction.

"The four of us lived here, and we did a lot of stuff," Sanchez's father Al said, as he spoke about all the family reunions and outings.

The memorial in the Sanchez living room in Seymour is full of pictures and full of love.

"He was very loved," Al Sanchez said.

Al and Cindy Sanchez never thought their son could die so young, and from something so sinister.

"It is broad spectrum, it can affect anybody at any stage at any position in life," Al Sanchez said. "There is no immunity. You can't say, 'well, I have the willpower.'"

Thomas is one of many lives unfortunately lost from drug overdose.

President Donald Trump said nearly 64,000 Americans died from overdose last year, declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency on Thursday.

"I'm very grateful, because this has been going on way too long," Cindy Sanchez said.

It's a step toward helping those affected by drug abuse, and it starts with helping financially.

"They have a similar vision that we have here," said Knoxville Police Chief David Rousch.

Rousch was there as the president signed the declaration in Washington D.C.

"I truly have the same passion and the same belief that I heard the president say yesterday, and that is we can win this," said Rousch.

Rousch said lawsuits alleging big pharmacy companies knew how addictive prescription drugs could be, but didn't tell doctors who prescribed them, should provide money needed to effectively treat addicts looking for help.

"This situation has been created, we know that, unfortunately by companies with poor scruples," Rousch said.

He said the money will go to help those who need treatment for addiction.

Giving broken hearts some hope to be full again against the empty promise of drugs.

"When an addict is ready to quit, there has to be a bed available," Cindy Sanchez said.

Knoxville drug treatment and recovery facility Helen Ross McNabb Center recently added 16 beds to its Morristown facility, continuing to fight for addicts who need help.

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