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Seeing light through the shadow of overdose: Families stand up to drugs

Posted on 06-16-2015 Posted in Drug Abuse - 5 Comments


The abuse of illicit drugs, harmful substances or prescription medications has a vice grip on people in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control, CDC, found that in 2012 alone, 41,502 people died due to drug poisoning or drug overdose deaths. Lives lost to an overdose have devastated the families left behind. Some family members have risen up to fight against drug addiction, refusing to sit mourning in the shadows of addiction. Many shrug off addiction,  relenting to the stigma that it should not be spoken about, when families argue the exact opposite is needed.

Spreading hope

Jeanne Richards from Waterford Michigan started a nonprofit in 2013 following the death of her son Bryan. He overdosed on heroin in 2011. The group is known as Bryan’s Hope – Heroin and Opiate Prevention and Education —a concerned group of individuals hoping to “provide awareness and education in the battle against heroin and opiate addiction.” Richards was open about her son’s death to help inspire others to share as well.

“One of our main goals is to destigmatize,” or remove the shame on “the perception of today’s drug addict.” Richards continues with, “Too often we find this subject to be taboo or forbidden from discussion. If you are an addict, you will go to great lengths to keep it a secret. If you are a family member or loved one of an addict, usually, we hide it.  This mentality or way of thinking is adding to the problem.”

Richards illuminated the problem, adding that people are quick to brush addiction under the rug and think that the drama will dissipate. Bryan’s Hope offers meetings for the addicted, families and those seeking information. She affirms the importance of communities coming together and speaking out about the problem at hand.

Sharing the message

Another example is of Carol Stockman, also of Michigan, who lost her grandson to heroin overdose in 2014. Since then, Stockman has worked with Kerri Teachout, a prevention specialist of the Berrien County Health Department. Stockman mentions that she is not afraid to explain her son died of an overdose and that admittance is a big step that many need to take in combating addiction.

She explained her grandson was kind to her and close to graduating college. Her grandson, Sam, had even been clean for a while. Stockman adds that addiction should not be characterized to one age group, ethnicity or social status of person.

Learning the facts

Death by heroin overdose remains consistent. In 2012, the CDC found that out of  more than 41,000 deaths, nearly 6,000 people died of heroin overdose and about 16,000 people died of opioid overdose. In 2011, the National Institute on Drug Abuse also found that 4.2 million Americans, aged 12 or older, had used heroin at least once in their lives. There is still great risk with all form of illicit substances and anyone can become addicted. Even prescription medication can lead to addiction. It is important for people to be informed and understand how an addiction begins and consumes one’s life.

Also note that neither of these groups is claiming to be medical experts with treatment options available. They are support groups who strive to help people addicted to heroin or opiates find treatment, while also informing the public to the dangers of addiction.

Sovereign Health in Fort Lauderdale, Florida treats addictions, mental health disorders and behavioral problems. Our facility guides the individual in detoxification, rehabilitation and supports the recovering addict in creating a new and healthy social life. If you or a loved one needs help or information for treatment, call 866-269-2493 for more information.

Written by, Nick Adams, Sovereign Health Group Writer

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