Click here to read The Fix’s phenomenal feature story written by our friend Zachary Siegel, about the incomparable Dan Bigg AKA The Patron Saint of Harm Reduction.
When I first met Dan Bigg, cofounder and director of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, I was totally confused. Back in 2010, I didn’t know a thing about Naloxone. I was just as confused as everyone else as to how I felt about drugs in general. I didn’t fully grasp what drug use really stemmed from (being human), why it exists today (because we’re human) and the strategies being used to assist those who are dependent upon them (sadly, not always catered towards humanity).
Today, I believe that public health approaches to assisting drug using population are responsible and necessary. There is no one universal barometer to indicate an individual’s success in getting a handle on their own active use level, and frankly, I’m not sure that having one would help. Expertise helps. Guidance helps. But after all, the human relationship with drugs exists differently for every single one of us. Maybe “any positive change” is enough to enhance a person’s life.
In my opinion, Dan is 100% right. The worst possible threat to a person’s health is not being able to breathe. It’s a quick downward spiral from there. I’m talking minutes. The biggest threat to that is the political, financial, social and medical barriers that exist for educating people about overdose prevention and harm reduction in addition to getting it in the hands of those who need it. What Dan and CRA have done for using populations across America is indescribable and undefinable because it is that huge. Without Dan and CRA, the Lake County Opioid Initiative’s Police Narcan program wouldn’t be possible. With Dan and CRA, the Chicago suburbs would not be seeing significant decreases in fatal overdose numbers. Because of them, people can live to recover. And, without the opportunity to recovery, what is all of this for?
Chelsea, Executive Director, Live4Lali
12 Facts of Christmas coming at you with a hot off the press factoid! Prevention efforts are working. This is progress, not perfection. We are proud to have educated 2,500 students this year. Help us keep the momentum going by recommending us to your school district! For roughly $10 per student per school year, we provide realistic and relevant information, testimonies and social emotional learning aimed at avoiding drug use. Each child deserves to be part of the conversation. How much is one student’s life worth?
Message from our Executive Director, Chelsea Laliberte on the 6th anniversary of Alex “Lali” Laliberte’s death:
6 years ago today, Alex Laliberte took his last breath. From that moment on, all who knew him were changed in different ways. I won’t attempt to detail that because no experiences were exactly the same. The only perspective I can speak of is my own.
I woke up today like I do every morning, grateful for this life. A few years ago, I didn’t know it was possible to feel contentme
nt of this kind. I lived in a bubble in Los Angeles where I was still trying to figure out who I was far away from where it all began. It was really tough, but it was where I forged the strength to accept Alex’s fate and myself, flaws and all. The culmination of that experience was this: when I was able to start really fully dealing with Alex’s death, I found myself again. Instead of being mad at him or obsessed with trying to analyze every little idiosyncratic detail of the last year of his life, I started talking to him. Soon enough, he started speaking back through songs, experiences, feelings, dreams, relationships, food, culture. He was there. He still is.
It took a long time to get here but I now remember Alex not as this character we talk about because of his choices or his illness, but as a person who brought light to many people, especially me. I am LUCKY to have had Alex for a brother. His death may have been tragic, but don’t be fooled by his way out. There was a lot of worry, but he was NOT a burden. Those 20 years were spent in the best of company. So, I am going to take today to express gratitude to him.
Alex, thank you for your kindness and youthful spirit. Thank you for your sensitivity and intuition. You always knew how to make things better, sometimes just by smiling. Thank you for being authentic and unafraid to express yourself creatively; music was your religion. Thank you for always saying “yes”; your dedication to your family couldn’t be altered. Thank you for your huge heart of gold; always looking for someone to help or relieve. Thank you for trying. Trying to fight what your mind and body were telling you to do, trying to summon the strength to get the words out. Thank you for never wanting to leave a room angry and always saying “I love you.” I know you meant it. Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick or talking me down from an emotional precipice by simply saying “don’t worry about it.” Thank you for not taking life too seriously, it helped make our life together so much more enjoyable. Thank you for going the extra mile to get a laugh, even if it almost left you detained in Mexico or stuck at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Thank you for keeping secrets. Thank you for showing me that sometimes silence is enough.
Thank you for waking me up in the morning with the strongest fire in my belly. Thank you for helping me to sleep soundly knowing that the work we are doing is affecting change by saving lives and enlightening people. Thank you for everything you were and everything you are. At the end of a long day, all I have to do is look at your face and know that everything is going to be alright. Til we meet again, I will always be thankful. Save a seat for me.
Six years ago, we thought if we could help just one person or family through our work then we were doing something important. Today we never thought our tragedies would enlighten and motivate people to seek assistance for their mental health issues let alone contribute to governmental change and mass prevention and early intervention through our education programs.
The Fix’s Zachary Siegel developed a beautiful depiction of Chelsea’s inspiration for starting Live4Lali and current philosophies and initiatives for being a change agency. We are proud to continue this work and focus on our mission of de-stigmatization of mental health and drug addiction nationwide. You can read the piece here.