Our brand new Facebook group is intended to provide support, resources, education, news and beyond for siblings who have lost a sibling to a drug overdose. This is a place where you can bring up any feelings, thoughts or questions you may have. Feel free to suggest the group to anyone who might need us. The target age of the group is the 25-40 population but we would never turn away someone younger who wanted to be a part of the group.
A message from our Executive Director, Chelsea Laliberte:
I am fortunate enough to have a mother who told me I was beautiful every day of my youth, and even today. Despite her best attempts at instilling positive self-image in little me, I still was bullied at my Buffalo Grove, IL community elementary, middle, junior and high schools. I went through puberty very young and started to experience all that came with it before many of my peers. Without my knowledge, kids at my school were calling me “Smelly Chelsea” behind my back because I was unaware that I needed to wear deodorant. Instead of pointing it out to me, my peers would come up to me and tell me I was disgusting, fat and ugly. In 6th grade, I earned the nickname “Mole Girl” because of a large birthmark that I had on my jawline I was so mortified by the repeated name calling that my mom and I went to see a dermatologist about getting it removed. The red scar on my jawline will always remind me of that terrible experience.
This repetitive belittling caused depression very young. This caused me to develop nervous habits like picking at my skin, twitching various parts of my body, biting my nails, and compulsively shaking my leg. I became obsessed with how I looked and took every chance I had to look in the mirror and point out every little idiosyncrasy on my face or my body that I hated. Even today, I have to talk myself through my relationship with mirrors. So imagine what happened when I started doing TV interviews or getting photographed for promoting awareness. It all started up again. It makes me very uncomfortable being in front of cameras or even hearing the recording of my own voice. I attribute that to the negative recording in my own head that keeps playing over and over again that I have had to learn how to shut off in order to achieve my goals. If it was not for my mom encouraging therapy, I fear that those rude remarks may have lead me to a place I couldn’t come back from. A place where so many of my friends, family members, and many of you have sadly had to experience because of bullying. Things like drug use, self-harm like cutting, eating disorders, and even suicide attempts.
So when I was walking through the aisles today at Target, a fire lit inside of my belly when I saw a shirt that said “You CAN’T sit with us!” which is a line from the movie Mean Girls. I don’t think Target got the memo about this whole bullying problem we are having in America. These shirts are meant to target young girls in a world where youth mental health disorders and suicide is at an all time high and growing. Regardless of the movie this shirt promotes, it perpetuates the idea that some people SHOULD be ostracized and humiliated by their peers. It moves us away from kindness, compassion and acceptance, and puts us back to a place where other little Chelsea’s out there are forming self-deprecating feelings about who they are based on someone else’s opinion of their worth.
THIS NEEDS TO STOP. I want to encourage any of you who feel similarly about this issue to reach out to the Target stores in your community to ask the General Manager to take these shirts off the racks. Doing this will send the message that members of the community are concerned about the messages our young girls receive and that we will not tolerate it. Also, please take a look at Kind Campaign as they work tirelessly to promote anti girl-on-girl crime nationally and globally!
One of the most common question we get asked is, “why can’t the DEA just shut down the heroin trade?” Well, it’s not as simple as you might think. In an industry that profits $400 billion per year on a global scale, international crime organizations are technologically advanced, incredibly savvy and are primarily interested in two things: money and power.
Let’s go back, way back to the 1980’s when when the Reagan Administration began implementing divided sentencing for cocaine possession and crack cocaine possession. Many people are unaware of the major differences between the two drugs, and the truth of the matter is…there’s not very much difference aside for two chemicals: baking soda and water (which creates the rock). Crack cocaine is the smokable version of cocaine.
I bet you are asking yourself, “I always thought crack cocaine was worse.” One of the reasons for that mindset probably has to do with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 which basically perpetuated the myth. This law solidified that penalty for crack cocaine over cocaine charges included a minimum of a 5 year prison sentence and a 100:1 weight ratio. At the time cocaine was much more expensive which meant primarily used by white individuals while crack cocaine was primarily used by African Americans. This law created what we know today as a major racial disparity in sentencing. According to U.S. SenatorDick Durbin, “The sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine has contributed to the imprisonment of African Americans at six times the rate of whites and to the United States’ position as the world’s leader in incarcerations.”
As you can imagine, this new law equalizes the disparity which is a huge win for continued civil rights of all Americans. “The California Fair Sentencing Act takes a brick out of the wall of the failed 1980’s drug war era laws that have devastated communities of color, especially Black and Latino men,” said Lynne Lyman, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, “we are actively dismantling institutional racism. I hope California’s action gives momentum to the remaining 11 states that still retain this unjust and irrational racial disparity in their penal codes,” Lyman concluded. Read the full story here: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2014/09/governor-jerry-brown-signs-california-fair-sentencing-act-eliminate-disparities-crack-a
Our Outreach Coordinator, Genevieve Przybylo, came across this gem yesterday at her local neighborhood Walgreens. As you could imagine, we were all happy to finally see the information publicly emphasized regarding hydrocodone’s restriction. For those unfamiliar with what’s happening, hydrocodone is a very powerful narcotic opioid pain relief medication commonly prescribed to anyone who has endured any level of pain. Yes, even people who get scratches and bumps are sometimes prescribed this by their doctor. The number one prescriber of these meds are dentists – ever get a root canal or had your wisdom teeth pulled? Millions do every single day. This drug is extremely addictive which has contributed to the drug dependencies and addictions/substance use disorders of millions, and not to mention the overdose deaths of individuals every 19 minutes in the United States of America. Because of the epidemic, the DEA finally re-classed hydrocodone as Schedule II instead of Schedule III which prevents a consumer from being able to get a refill.
While this is a phenomenal step in the right direction, the sociologist in me feels like there is cause for concern here. For those of you familiar with opioid addiction, many people start their journey by orally ingesting or snorting opioid pain medications. Because of the high price of these meds, many users switch to heroin (a Schedule I opioid) which is FAR cheaper (as low as $5 per bag) and FAR more powerful (thus more addictive). My concern is that the unavailability of pain medications will lead people to heroin use, putting those individuals at a much higher risk for an elevated use disorder as well as overdose. If you understand use disorder you know that withdrawal from opioids is extremely powerful and all consuming which would make any human desperate for anything to help relieve them of their pain.
My question to the medical community is, what steps are being taken by primary care physicians and other MD’s to properly coach their clients through this process? Is there a referral to treatment process being executed? How are MDs following up with their clients? Or, are they left to defend for themselves without medical care? Regardless of the answers, the ultimate fear I have is that the heroin economy will surge right back up causing more deaths.
WARNING: If you have any level of dependency or use disorder to opioid pain medications, please do not try detoxing from this alone or without medical assistance. It is very dangerous. Please reach out today and we can help guide you through this process as well as refer you to an appropriate treatment facility.