Yes, “these lives” are worth saving!

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, NarCan, Recovery, Stigma,

Drug-Addiction-642x336What is a life worth. What is your child’s life worth. These are questions that I ask when I hear people question the value of Narcan (Naloxone). There is nothing I wouldn’t do to have Robby back with us. So when people question the value of Narcan it does, well, piss-me-off.

At a meeting last summer, I even had a Police Officer tell me he struggled saving “their” lives.

Really? Their Lives?

Are we talking about kids like Robby who was so full of compassion as he dealt with the residents at the nursing home he worked at or when he chose to serve his country? Are we talking about kids like my friend Aaron who now, in recovery, is rising through the ranks of his company, is recently married, and who is a leader in the battle to stop this epidemic? Are we talking about our friend Stephanie who battled addiction, and now has dedicated her life to making a difference for young women in need?

Just whose lives are we talking about

Who gets to decide which ones live or die, which ones will make a difference in the lives of others or which family should have to live with the loss of that loved one?

Maybe we need a new movement called  Addicts Lives Matter to get the point across.

Every addict was once a child full of hopes, dreams and potential. Somewhere along the line they got derailed; overtaken with a disease they did not understand and have no ability to control. A disease that drives desperation and behavior that is simply, at times, reprehensible. But inside, under the weight of that disease, they are still those same kids that were once so full of life and hope.

Narcan saves lives. Narcan has proven, in communities where it is deployed, to reduce the incidence of use and addiction because it allows help to get to those that need it. Will some abuse it, play the Lazarus game? Probably. But should we condemn the majority of addicts who would trade every possession to be free of the monster that chases them daily for the actions of those under the influence of the devil himself?

Every addict is someone’s kid. It is never your kid until it is; then what? I believe that every addict deserves the opportunity to turn it around, to become that person God created them to be. You may not, but ask yourself this; “If it were my kid, would I want them to have that chance.”

For more information on Project Dawn, Narcan and distribution sites, please click on the links below:

Ohio Project Dawn

Cleveland Project Dawn


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Stigma of Addiction is our Greatest Enemy

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Grief, Robby's Voice, Stigma, Tags:

Have you ever had your child look at you and say “I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want this,” with fear and pain in their eyes?  I have, and there how-did-the-stigma-of-addiction-begin-532935_180x180was nothing I could do to save him.  I could be talking about cancer or any diabetes or any other chronic or life threatening disease, and actually, I am.  I am talking about drug addiction.

As a society, we put a stigma on addicts because we believe there is something dirty about them. Maybe it’s because drugs are illegal or we call it their choice.  Maybe it’s because we don’t understand addiction, and why would we.  We don’t get educated on it until after we are impacted.  As a result, we have an epidemic that continues to grow, and a disease that impacts virtually every family in this country in some way.  You say not you. I say you’re either not being honest or you just have not figured out who yet.  I say this because I know.  I have lived this.  I have had to face it.  I have had to witness the pain and devastation. And now, because of my ignorance, I have to live with the loss.

Old stigmas are stealing lives

What we say about addicts we would never think to say to a person with a “real disease.”

  • We say it’s their choice.
  • We say just quit.
  • We say they deserve what they get.
  • We say they know better.

 

We say these things about addicts, but yet we have compassion for cancer patients and diabetics.  We feel badly for them even when maybe their choice to smoke or have poor eating habits led to their diseases.  We have empathy for them because we understand these diseases, we have been educated, and yes, killing yourself through cigarettes or food is perfectly legal.

With addiction, even though we have failed to educate kids and families, we hold them in disdain. Our healthcare system doesn’t want to pay for the proper care, the same care any other chronic disease would get.  There are no fund raisers or national foundations, only the dark black hole of addiction and its stigma.

Learn from parents like us

There was a day, a time in my life when I held many of these beliefs. There was a time in my life I was ignorant.  I did not understand the disease or its impact.  There was a day that I would cast a stigma down upon the addict because they did it to themselves.  Then I learned, and I learned the hard way.  I learned about the disease.  I learned about the pain.  I learned about the desperation and hopelessness.

I learned too late. I learned after my son became an addict, a victim of a disease, that neither he nor we were ever really educated about.  I learned too late.  I learned after my son died and there was nothing I could ever do to fix it.   Because I learned to late, my family will live with a loss that will forever leave a hole in our hearts and souls.

I learned too late, but you don’t have to. I know, it’s never your kid…until it is.  Then what? 

 


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Event Management Volunteer Needed

Posted by Anne Browning, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, Robby's Voice,
vo.unteer

The need to reach more and more parents, students and children with our message to live a substance-free life has reached a critical point. The demands on our organization are growing and although we feel both excited and humbled, we know we can’t do this alone.

A channel for your passion and purpose

Do you have experience with event management, particularly with not-for-profit organizations? Can you collaborate and generate new ideas while also bringing volunteers together to develop and execute on-the-ground? And more importantly, do you have a passion for supporting this cause and see lives changed for the better? If you do, and could commit your valuable time and expertise to our cause, we’d like to talk to you and explore both our organization’s needs and your skills and ideas.

Please email our Board Secretary and 5k Race Director, Angela Fanara at amarysiak@hotmail.com for an initial conversation.  We would be so grateful for your service and know you will feel a great deal of satisfaction helping with the Robby’s Voice mission.


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Progress at the pharmacy

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Opiates, pharmacy, Prescription Drug Abuse, Robby's Voice, Tags:

Do You Know What OOARRS Is?pharmacy

OARRS is the system used in Ohio by Doctors and Pharmacists to track prescription medication traffic.  It lets us know what doctors are prescribing or perhaps over-prescribing as well as who may be attempting to obtain medication for resale or to support their addiction.  It is supposed to be used every time a Doctor writes for certain medications; it is not always used.  Here you’ll find a link to the practicum for Pharmacists as to when they need to be checking OARRS.

This is an important tool used in battling this epidemic, and it is working.  We are seeing reductions in abusive prescribing but we must sustain it.  Ask your Pharmacist next time you’re in how it is working for them. We’d love to hear what feedback you receive.


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How those grieving work to emotionally survive the holidays

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Grief, Robby's Voice, Tags: , ,

griefThis week is another Christmas, and for those of us living with loss, it is always a challenging week.  The emotions of the season wreak havoc with our hearts and emotions.

I think back to 2011 and the complete mental storm we were living in.  We had little desire to go anywhere, and really just wanted to stay in the house.  We, however, chose to try and do normal and that was not easy.  People ask questions like “how are you doing?”  In our heads we said, “how the hell do you think?”  Then there were those that were nothing short of curious.  Easily handled with a verbal ripping and maybe a good punch to the head; but not really options, and because we were so lost in our own heads, just dismissing those conversations and walking away seemed a better option.

Then there was gift giving, and watching younger nephews and nieces, eagerly and happily opening presents.  Not their fault as they were kids. They should have been doing that.  But everywhere we looked, people were happy, people were smiling, people were celebrating Christmas and we were just hoping to survive.

Why wasn’t everyone in the same hell as we were

Simple. Life goes on for everyone else.  And yes, it does go on for us as well, but it just seems stuck during the holidays.  Emotions are high.  I struggled to feel joy and happiness.  How could I?  Wouldn’t that be unfair to Robby.  There was calm and there were tears, and none of it was predictable or controllable.  In short, I was a mess and I think I can say that for all of us.

There are so many that I have met this year that will be entering into this holiday season for the first time, trying to figure it out, trying to get a hold on their emotions, and for the most part, just trying to survive it.  I figured I would help myself a bit and share some thoughts on what we have learned…because I need to prepare every year as well.

Emotional preparation for the holidays

  1. It Is How You Feel – People that are not living it don’t really understand it. That’s OK, we wouldn’t want them too. If you don’t feel like doing something or going somewhere, then don’t. You have to take care of yourself and your family. In short, it is OK to be all about your feelings.
  2. It Is How They Feel – If you choose to go somewhere, understand that people will be celebrating, laughing and enjoying the season. Their lives move forward while ours seem stuck in “that” place.
  3. They will ask “how you are,” and in your head you will say “how do you think I am?” They are either genuinely concerned, being polite or morbidly curious. Prepare yourself in advance for how you will answer that question and stick to it. If you don’t want to talk about it, then let them know you don’t want to talk about it. Hard enough just being there.
  4. Know the magic – Have a word or a look. When things are getting rough, anyone in the family can go to the “word,” and it is a signal that you need to leave the room or the party. Sometimes just using the word is enough to bring some calm back.

In the end, emotions will be uncontrollable, and whatever you decide to do; IT IS OK.  Don’t keep it bottled in; journal, cry, step aside, whatever works for you, but allow the emotion to get out.  Most important, know that you are not alone.  We are all out here together, praying for each other, lifting each other, supporting each other.  Together, we will make it through.


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