Baldwin-Whitehall took a leadership role in the epidemic currently facing our country. I am so proud to see what they have started and excited to see where it goes.
OffScript by Saltworks
A few weeks ago Baldwin High School students attended an assembly presentation of OffScript by Saltworks. OffScript is a live performance about three high school students that are very different but have one thing in common, addiction to prescription drugs. I was not able to see OffScript but my mother, step-father, sister and daughters did and found it very moving. Several parents provided me wonderful feedback on the assembly and also where told the same thing from their students.
My mother shared Amber’s story during the assembly to the students. She talked about Amber’s struggle with depression, addiction and losing her battle to addiction. Sharing Amber’s story was very difficult for my mother but she wanted to help others and from what I was told touched many students. We have the audio from my mother’s talk and will be sharing it shortly.
Chasing The Dragon by the FBI and DEA
Baldwin Whitehall also hosted a screening of Chasing The Dragon this week. Chasing The Dragon is a documentary about the lives of people addicted to opiates and how it takes hold of their lives. The documentary was a joint effort of the FBI and DEA.
A DEA agent was present during this program and spoke prior to the screening. He also stayed after to answer questions and talk with people. The Whitehall chief of police spoke about how close this epidemic is and shared about the administering of Narcan and overdose deaths right here in Whitehall Borough.
Tables where set up outside of the auditorium by the DEA, Gateway Rehab, Mercy Behavioral, Holy Family Institutes SHORES Program, Al-Anon and Alateen. These organizations are working to help in recovery and coping with grief. Having them present was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how to address this crisis and reach out for help. Baldwin Whitehall also has social workers in the schools that can help anyone
I spoke after the Chasing The Dragon and shared Amber’s story. I was nervous as I usually am when I speak especially when talking about losing Amber. It is a strange and comforting feeling telling Amber’s story, I pray before I speak and have a feeling of being spoken through.
The number of lives that we are losing to this epidemic is mind boggling, addiction is gripping people like never before. Families are being destroyed, lives are being shattered apart.
I hope that this is the beginning of a more comprehensive and regular program by not only Baldwin-Whitehall but other districts and communities. We can’t arrest our way out of this problem, we have to help people suffering.
I will be posting the audio from both talks soon and hope to see a program like this brought to middle school students. We as parents have to keep this conversation going and teach our children what to do when confronted with situations involving substance abuse. They will be in a situation, we need to give them the tools to know how to handle it.
I would like to thank the Baldwin-Whitehall Administration and Social Workers who organized these events and worked to put this together. They took a great step in helping our community learn more about this crisis and hopefully save some lives.
Today I want to take time to write about my third goal, my goals are simple and can be accomplished by anyone. Addiction is a horrible disease that affects so many people in the United States and around the world. I have personally been affected by people who lost their battle to addiction and people who are in long term recovery. Today, I would like to share with you about recovery.
I found this video on DrugAbuse.gov and thought it would be a good video today share today.
Recovery is possible!
Last month during International Overdose Awareness Day I had the honor of having two family members speak about their recovery. Seeing the changes they made and how they try to help others suffering addiction is so inspiring.
So, today I ask you, how could you help to celebrate recovery?
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 18 through September 24, 2016, as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. I call upon all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that raise awareness about the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. Read more
The United States suffering from a tragic epidemic that is taking more lives that car accidents now. Addiction is a disease that takes a strong hold on a person and their families’ lives As a community we must address this epidemic and health crisis. Suffering from addiction is NOT a morale failing, it is a disease that affects a person’s ability to stop using. Some people start using from legitimate prescriptions and then move to illegal substances after the prescription is stopped.
As a community we need to stand together and learn about this health crisis that is taking so many lives. We need to understand and show empathy without enabling people who are suffering with addiction. We need to show love to the loved ones of addicts. We need to educate our youth and give them the tools they need to prevent or recover from addiction.
As part of Opioid Epidemic Awareness Week, the White House will host parents who have lost children to addiction, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country will participate in more than 160 different events, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Read more
What can you do to raise awareness, help people suffering from addiction, celebrate recovery and educate?
My three simple goals are listed below, I will write one post for each goal this week about these goals. I would love to hear you thoughts and how you can help end this epidemic.
End the stigma with addiction and overdose
Educate people on the epidemic and this health crisis
As many of you know I was crushed with the loss of Amber. She was wonderful and caring person who I loved like my own child. Spending time with her always filled my heart with joy. My children thought of her as a big sister.
My friend Alan suggested a fitness challenge to raise awareness to addiction, recovery and accidental overdose. We have an epidemic in our country right now. This year is expected to have more overdoes that last year which was a horrible year for overdoes. It is estimated that 129 people lose their battle each and every day to an overdose in the United States.
The challenge will begin on August 1st and end on August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day. I am honored to be collaborating with Alan, Laurie, The Gym Pittsburgh and 129aDay on this challenge.
Please join the challenge by registering at YinzersGetFit.com/129aDay and receive daily challenges beginning August 1st along with a profile from 129aDay.org of a person who lost their battle.
Together we can raise awareness and money to help people suffering from addiction and celebrate people who are in recovery.
I have been personally affected by the opiate epidemic. It is a health crisis that is affecting everyone in some way. This past weekend our community lost several more people to this crisis. Losing someone young is a heart ripping feeling. Watching someone struggle with the grips of addiction is living a nightmare.
You see the person you love and know slowly disappear. You see the change in their eyes. Looking in their eyes you want to reach in and hug the person you love so much but the person on the outside is different. They are fighting a battle that many people can never understand. You hug them and try to reach for that person inside to come out.
I have heard people say let the addicts die, they chose this lifestyle. Addiction started with a choice, a choice that every one of us makes. The difference is that a person with addiction can NOT stop without a lot of help. They have a need for the drug and they will do anything to get that drug like it is air itself. Addiction comes in many forms, some people over eat, so people cut themselves and there are so many other addictions. The addictions they are battling are very REAL. Like a monster inside of them that they have to fight every day, every hour.
Drugs and alcohol are so common in our society that you are confronted with it on a daily basis. Drugs may be legally prescribed by a doctor. Alcohol is at just about every event. Children are trying substances at an earlier age than ever before. Many people use substances to cover up the feelings that they are dealing with such as depression, mental illness and chronic pain. We all know that these are very real illnesses, but we don’t treat people with addiction as an illness. There is a change occurring right now where addiction is starting to be treated like the disease it is.
It’s been 11 months since we lost Amber. She was the light of my life. I remember the minute she was born. The excitement and love that filled my heart at that minute. My life changed with her birth and I learn what unconditional love is. You do NOT just stop loving someone because they are ill. You love them more.
Addiction scares me. I have two children that I am so afraid could be affected by this horrible disease. We teach them about addiction, drugs, bullying and so many other aspects of life. We want to give them the tools they need to say NO. But, saying NO is just not enough. We need to provide tools for them to use when, (yes when) they are confronted in these situations.
So, how do we do this. INVOLVEMENT. Yes, being involved in our community and our FAMILY. We must be involved and teach our children how to handle these situations. Don’t just tell them drugs are bad. Help them know what to do when they are in a situation that will pressure them. This is not easy. But we must remember that they need our help. It is much easier to help them before they become addicted than after. Sadly, we can give our children all of the tools and resources available and they still may be gripped by addiction.
Open your eyes and be realistic. Don’t think “Not My Child“, this can happen to ANYONE. Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction can affect the young and old, the rich and poor.
There are many resources available to help someone in addiction, education people to prevent addiction and also support people who love addicts. I would like to hear what resources you know of and why you feel they are valuable.
Some resources that I know of and support are listed below. Please help build this post up with valuable information for someone trying to fight addiction or to help education others to prevention drug abuse.