What is known is the high number of overdoses, broadly: In the United States, someone dies of a prescription drug-related overdose about every 19 minutes. The epidemic affects every state in the nation, and has hit hardest in places like Washington, Utah, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada and New Mexico.
Kentucky -- and the Appalachian ridge, generally -- is one of the regions hit hardest. Kentucky is the fourth most medicated state in the nation and it has the sixth highest rate of overdose deaths, according to the state's Attorney General.
In Knott County, adjacent to Rockcastle, Kelly said more than half of the children have lost their parents due to death, abandonment or legal removal. Anecdotally, she says, the numbers in other aeas could be even higher.
And in nearby Johnson County, so many children have lost parents that school administrators there changed "Parents' Day" to "Guardians' Day."
Addiction and death are common concerns for families here, according to Kelly -- too common.
Her voice wavering, Kelly recalled the story of a young girl who realized her mother was overdosing on prescription drugs right in front of her.
"She wanted to call the police and the other adults in the home were so high they wouldn't allow her to call," said Kelly. "So she crawled up into her mother's arms while her mother died. Now she's just living with a lady she met at the local Boys and Girls Club.
"Those are the situations we're dealing with in eastern Kentucky."
"Someone has to take care of these kids, and we simply do not have the facilities to do that," said U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, whose district in Kentucky is mired in prescription drug abuse. "So it's neighbors, it's churches, other civic groups that are trying to be parents to these kids who are orphaned by drug-abusing parents.
"That's a huge undertaking, because there's literally tens of thousands of these young children," he added.
Rogers started the Operation UNITE drug task force in 2003 as a response to the broader prescription drug abuse epidemic in his state. Initially, he thought, "If we could get the pushers off the streets, that the problem would be solved."
But years after he launched the task force, groups of children were showing up at community meetings to speak of their struggles after one parent -- or both -- overdosed.
"That hit me like a ton of bricks in the head," said Rogers. "These are young people who are now thrown into the streets. So there are some real side effects to these parents using drugs."
Now, the UNITE program is channeling energy toward the children floundering socially, emotionally and academically after losing parents. They have programs set up at schools across Kentucky.
'It's time for it to stop'
Hale, who worked in the local school system for 34 years, started a UNITE chapter at Rockcastle County High.
"It really got to the point where we were sick and tired of going to funerals," Hale said. "We were tired of having kids come in and not being able to sit through physics class because they were worried about Mom who had overdosed. So we were like, 'What can we do? How can we help these families?'"
One way UNITE helps is by educating and counseling children who are having problems at home related to addiction. The group also empowers children like Bradshaw to speak out about their own loss.
"I know that a lot of kids deal with drug abuse from their parents," said Bradshaw. "I don't know how many have lost parents, but I know a lot of kids definitely deal with that going home every day. I think right now we're definitely at a point where everybody needs to know about it and how it affects everybody."
"It's time for it to stop," said Kelly. "It's leaving our communities in shreds and we're left behind to pick up the pieces from that."
Advocates such as Hale and Kelly are desperate for an intervention to reach the thousands of children who are not being helped by programs like UNITE.
Watkins said that the pain of having no parents is something that he will deal with for the rest of his life.
"People have to understand that this is a problem," he said. "It doesn't affect just the person that uses, it affects the entire family."