Baldwin-Whitehall Addresses Overdose Crisis

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.

Celebrate Recovery

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?

Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week

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
  • Celebrate recovery

129 A Day – Fitness Challenge in August

2015-06-05-at-070744_18459458286_oAs 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.

11 Month Ago Today… End This Health Crisis!

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.

www.aa.org
www.aa.org

www.na.org
www.na.org

http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/
http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/

www.sagesarmy.com
www.sagesarmy.com

www.notonemorepgh.net
www.notonemorepgh.net

http://www.candleinc.org/
http://www.candleinc.org/

 

Prevent Overdose … Help Others…

The heroin epidemic affects EVERYONE. You may not be personally affected right now but you probably know someone who is or has been indirectly.

Look at the graph below, the number of fatal overdoses has risen by huge amounts over the past few years.

Image from http://www.overdosefreepa.pitt.edu/
Image from http://www.overdosefreepa.pitt.edu/

I am personally affected by this epidemic and it is devastating every single day. Losing someone you love to an overdose leaves you with so much heartbreak.

What else could I have done to prevent it?

I have to live with this question for the rest of my life, among others. Seeing a life taken way too soon, questioning if you did enough. How could you have saved a life?

I was happy to see that one county in Pennsylvania is now going to classify heroin overdose as homicide and dealers as murders.

“If you chose to sell heroin, you’re killing people and you’re murdering people. You’re just as dead from a shot of heroin as if someone puts a bullet in you,” Kiessling told The Daily Item of Sunbury.

“Calling these accidents is sweeping it under the rug,” he said.

Read more: http://www.wpxi.com/news/pa-coroner-starts-ruling-heroin-overdose-deaths-as-homicides/180266150

School are now stocking Naloxone in schools to help save lives. We still need to do more. People suffering from addiction need to be treated as someone with a disease.  They need help. Their families need help.

This is a HEALTH CRISIS!

There is an Overdose Epidemic

  • One person dies every 19 minutes from unintentional drug overdose (Paulozzi, 2012).
  • Pennsylvania is among the ten states with the highest opioid use and overdose rates (Paulozzi, 2012).
  • For the years 1999—2007, drug-induced deaths were second only to motor vehicle fatalities (CDC, 2010).
  • Opioid overdose is preventable and treatable (reversible) through the use of naloxone (UNODC, 2013).

So, what do I think we should do?

Well, I feel that stocking Naloxone or Narcan in schools is a great idea. We need to save lives. We also need to increase education, prevention and recovery. We need to be aware and not just act like it won’t happen. There are ways to save a life and we need to have these resources available to help.

Children are using at younger ages than ever before. We need to make sure they understand the dangers of trying drugs just once. We need to also give them the tools to deal with drugs WHEN they are confronted with them. Let’s face it, be real, they WILL be confronted, thinking they won’t is just being naive.  How will your child handle that situation?

Their first experience with drugs may be from a legal prescription of a strong narcotic. YES. That is true. Children are being prescribed very strong narcotics at very young ages. Pain management can lead to addiction and has in many people of all ages. Depression and anxiety can lead to addiction. Children are prescribed drugs to deal with these very real medical issues but this can also lead to addiction and overdose.

Addiction does NOT discriminate. It doesn’t what matter your race, age, gender or financial status is in society. Addiction and fatal overdose affects EVERYONE!

So, I am not tell you anything new. This information is available everywhere.

But, I am asking you to do something.

Talk to your children and family about addiction, don’t just telling them to not use drugs. Tell them how to handle situations WHEN they are confronted, yes WHEN. Explain to them how to handle legally prescribed drugs and monitor their usage. Question if you or anyone you care for actually needs strong drugs.  Ask the doctors if there are other ways to deal with medical situations. LOCK UP your narcotics!  If you have narcotics in your house, secure them. Many people have legal narcotics in their house that are prescribed and used correctly. LOCK THEM UP. Children are taking them from parents and using or selling them.

Show LOVE. People that are fighting addiction need help. Don’t enable them, but love them. They are fighting a very real battle every day to not use. CELEBRATE people who are recovering. Long term recovery is possible, I know many people with long term recovering. Long term recovery is possible. I know many people in long term recovery and they fight every day to not use again. They are very strong people who want to be clean and want to contribute to society and they want to show love and help others.

I hope that you will never have to deal with the pain I have to deal with everyday. I know many people who have to deal with this same pain every day. Some have not lost their loved ones, some have. Some have to deal with the NIGHTMARE of addiction every day. They are frightened every time the phone rings, waiting for that call.

There are many organizations that can help you. Here are a few:

www.aa.org
www.aa.org
www.na.org
www.na.org
http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/
http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/
www.sagesarmy.com
www.sagesarmy.com
www.notonemorepgh.net
www.notonemorepgh.net
http://www.candleinc.org/
http://www.candleinc.org/

 

 

 

 

 

Fight For What You Believe In

It is approaching three months since Amber passed and each day is hard. I think of her all the time and wish I could still have our talks. She was a wonderful young lady and had so much love.

I believe that she would have wanted me to help others dealing with what she dealt with. My kids will see that if you believe in something that you have to stand your ground and fight for it. Let them hear the shaking in your voice, it’s not easy to stand up for what you believe in. It means pushing your comfort zone and some people may not like what you are doing.

I am pushing my comfort zone, I talk to Amber a lot in my prayers. She brought a piece of happiness to the world. I learned what unconditional love is with her birth.

I discovered International Overdose Awareness Day, which falls on August 31st and wanted to do something to raise awareness. With the help of some very talented and generous people we have scheduled a rally on August 28th from 6:00pm to 9:30. I am very excited about this event, it is part of the bigger Fed Up! rally which is in Washington, DC.

We need to end the stigma associated with addiction and overdose, addiction is an illness. Some people choose the first time to experiment but this does mean they deserve to be outcast. We need to show compassion and love for people struggling with addiction.

Please attend the rally at Stewart Avenue Lutheran Church in Carrick this Friday, August 28th at 6PM. We need to stand together and make everyone aware that addiction affects everyone.

Please visit BWAction.com/Fedup for more information.

2015 Community Day Fun

We had a lot of fun at Community Day this past weekend. All of use looked forward to trying the mobile zip line and it was a BLAST!

I enjoy these events, walking around and talking to our neighbors and having fun activities for the kids to participate in. We watch the shows that are planned and leave happy (and with full bellies).

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My daughter Gianna wore the GoPro  this weekend, enjoy the point of view as she climbs the rock mount and then holds on tight on the zip line.

 

 

An Activist

I never would have imagined someone referring to me as an activist. But, it happened. In the Post Gazette article below.

A parent activist who has served as a watchdog during the past year has tossed his hat into the ring for a seat on the Baldwin-Whitehall school board.Read more http://earlyreturns.post-gazette.com/home/early-returns-posts/6467-baldwin-whitehall-activist-to-seek-seat-on-board

The campaign is over and I won the primary, so my name will be on the ballot in the general election for school board. This has been a very unique experience for me, I have learned a lot over the past few months. I started this because I felt something was wrong. My motivation has stayed strong as I have observed what was going on and from my dicussions with others in the community. I joined with a team of respected and like minded people for form our ticket of Lets Rebuild BW. Each one of us will now be on the ballot in the general election.

I am so honored that the community contributed to the campaign making this campaign a public movement, in my opinion. That just touched me more than I can express. To think that so many people reached into their pockets to help make this campaign a reality is just surreal.

The cake my dad had for me after the primary election.

Now, I have to wait for the general election. As I wait I will continue to attend and monitor the meetings.

Fittsburgh

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and have the accent to prove it! I left Pittsburgh back in ’99 and rushed back home to be where my heart belongs. People all over are trying to live more healthy, even here in the Burgh where we have fries ON our sandwiches!

Join Fittsburgh, by clicking on the image.

I came across the community called Fittburgh and just loved the idea. I have been trying to live a more healthy lifestyle for a few years now. My age as caught up with me and my metabolism no longer will let me eat anything I want and still be thin. I have started  work on it, but  haven’t been succeeding lately.

I started practicing yoga in December and have been wearing a Fitbit for several years. I always joke that is shows how lazy I am. Well, now with the help of Fittsburgh and my yoga practice at Urban Prana Yoga I am going to succeed at changing my lifestyle. Join me on my journey through life here, not only about my weight loss and fitness challenges and successes.

Let’s help Fittsburgh promote Pittsburgh as a fitness and healthy community, they can do it, WE CAN DO IT!

Join Fittsburgh and help them in their mission and make it your mission to.