In the wake of the unprecedented opioid crisis currently ravaging the U.S., there is both a need and a symbolic opportunity to showcase just how profound this tragic and still unfolding story is. The intent of this website is to provide a platform that allows people who have been impacted by OUD (Opioid Use Disorder) to bravely tell their story (in a safe place) of living with someone suffering from this horrific disease and the way it turned lives into a living hell! All the hope we had as our loved one drifted into the cycle of rehab, recovery and back again under the influence of OUD was emotionally and physically devastating. We want people to understand about life after loss to this disease and the ravaging effects it brings on the families and friends who remain to mourn and somehow go on.
It took me 8 years to finally speak these words, “I lost my son to a bad batch of heroin.” I doubt I would have contributed to such a website when I lost my son in 2006. The stigma of OUD was very strong back then. I remember telling people who asked how he died that he was sick and left it at that. It was only after I woke up in the middle of a night in December of 2014 and came to the revelation that I wanted to make a movie about him. But after joining GRASP, the bereavement group, I realized that I had to widen the scope of that film to include anyone who lost someone to OUD. While that film is an ongoing project, I felt the need to do something that could be accomplished rather quickly.
Remarkably, there is still a stigma about OUD, but I have seen that stigma diminishing. After hundreds of people sending me their stories, I was amazed how brave and forthcoming they were and not ashamed to send me their stories with pictures and videos of their lost loved ones. Many of those families had suffered their loss as early as 6 weeks prior and were strong enough to share. Not only that, they started nonprofits and campaigns to bring awareness to society about the horror of OUD. Even after losing multiple children these brave souls told their stories for their lost loved ones, the ones who cannot speak. Doing this, we all can share their lives and ours as a testament to the destructive force of OUD. Although we are making strides combating this scourge, there is still more work to be done. With this project we hope to enlighten as many people as we can who DO NOT realize the horrific life changing consequences of addiction and think it can’t happen to them.
In the last several years getting educated about substances and their effects is even more important than ever. The reason is the fatal consequences of using substances that might be laced with Fentanyl. It is a synthetic opioid that even with very tiny amounts, result in probable death. This is an alarming trend that continues to rise. It is even more alarming that this can be mixed with almost any mind-altering substance. Particularly in middle and high schools this fatal accident is increasing among youngsters. They are often experimenting with substances for the first time, and getting them from the street by trusted friends who think their source is pure. Even Cannabis, besides its high potency, is not so harmless as previously thought. It has been proven to change the brains of adolescents and unborn children. We are finding ways to fight this new assault, but action must be taken with greater urgency using all means available.
For those who have suffered the consequences of OUD, we decided to include resources. Some of the resources are for people who have suffered a loss to this disease. Other organizations deal with people who are currently under the grip of OUD. There are even groups that advocate to change the laws regarding decriminalization of certain substances and health insurance laws. These are just a few of the ways we can educate society to bring change and help people who live in despair. Together we can become a loud voice to advocate for change.