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My Brother Was The Last Person You’d Picture With A Needle In His Arm

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Featured Article, Health, Resources | 0 comments

My Brother Was The Last Person You’d Picture With A Needle In His Arm

 

Article by: ERIN MARIE DALY, GENERATION RX

 

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book “Generation Rx: A Story of Dope, Death, And America’s Opiate Crisis” by Erin Marie Daly, a former legal journalist.
Daly’s 20-year-old brother died of a heroin overdose after getting hooked on painkillers. To research her book, she talked to others whose loved ones died after moving from prescription pills to heroin.

Erin Marie Daly and her brother, Pat

Erin Marie Daly and her brother, Pat

George, a funeral home director in Brockton, Massachusetts, watched as the formaldehyde pulsed its way into the body lying before him on the porcelain embalming table. It was a task that was normally just part of a day’s work, but today, George was overwhelmed by emotion. He slid down to the floor, sobbing, and gripped the hand of the body on the table, willing it to come back to life.

The hand belonged to his 22-year-old son, Lance.

The night before, just after the Boston Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees, George had climbed the stairs to Lance’s bedroom in the home that also houses George’s funeral business. Lance was kneeling on the floor against a chair, with his head slumped forward onto his chest. It looked like he was praying. But he was stiff and unnaturally still. A needle lay by his feet. Heroin had stopped his heart.

It was a twisted ending for the son of a funeral director, but unfortunately, it was hardly surprising. Like many young adults in the working- class Boston suburb, Lance’s heroin addiction began when he became hooked on the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin. An opioid medication originally developed to treat patients suffering from debilitating pain, the drug has become popular among local kids who crush the pills and snort, smoke, or even inject them for a heroin-like high. When the pills become too expensive, they are increasingly turning to heroin itself.

George, for his part, had seen dozens of such cases come across his embalming table in recent years—the sons and daughters of good parents who thought heroin was something only “junkies” did. And even though he was well aware of Lance’s years-long struggle with opiate addiction—at one especially exasperated moment, telling his son that he was saving a casket for him—a junkie’s death wasn’t what he had in mind for Lance.

Despite years of addiction and lies and close calls, he never thought it would be his son.

I met George in the summer of 2010 after reading about his story in a newspaper. I had traveled across the country from California with a story of my own: my youngest brother, Pat, was also addicted to OxyContin and died of a heroin overdose in February 2009, six months shy of his twenty-first birthday. I was seeking answers as a sister and as a journalist. Shortly after Pat’s death, I had started researching prescription painkiller addiction, and had started blogging about my findings. Privately, I also began researching my brother’s life, trying to piece together his downfall in an effort to understand where he went wrong.

Pat was my baby. I was ten years old when he was born, and he was the perfect addition to the pretend scenarios for which I had already bossily recruited my other younger brother and sister. And as babies are, he was incontrovertibly lovable.

Yet as much as I loved my brother, I could not understand his obsession with OxyContin. Nor did I know that it had put him straight on the path to heroin. I learned of the extent of his struggle too late. Also too late, I learned about the disease of addiction, and about the particular insidiousness of narcotic painkillers, all of which provide a heroin-like high when abused: not just OxyContin, but Vicodin, Opana, Darvocet, Fentanyl, Percocet, Dilaudid, Lortab, and Roxicodone, to name just a few (central nervous system depressants like Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin are also often abused due to their tranquilizing properties).

I learned that Pat wasn’t a special case; that kids just like him, all over the country, were falling victim to these pills: in 2010, 3,000 young adults ages 18 to 25 died of prescription drug overdoses—eight deaths per day.

Like Pat, many ended up turning to heroin after their pills became too expensive or scarce; in 2011, 4.2 million Americans aged 12 or older reported using heroin at least once in their lives, and nearly half of young IV heroin users reported that they abused prescription opioids first. Like these kids, my brother was the last person you’d picture with a needle in his arm, and yet they were all dying as junkies. I wanted to understand why this was happening, so I quit my job as a legal journalist and began traveling around the country in the hopes that chronicling the experiences of other families affected by the trend would offer some answers.

George was one of the first people I encountered. He told me the story about embalming his son as we sat in the receiving room of his funeral home, surrounded by the proverbial mementos of death: prayer cards, dried floral arrangements, a casket stuffed with billowy waves of satin. He choked up as he talked about Lance, and I choked up too, unable to maintain my reporter’s distance. It was my brother’s story all over again.

Credit: Copyright © 2014 by Erin Marie Daly from Generation Rx: A Story of Dope, Death, and America’s Opiate Crisis.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/generation-rx-by-erin-marie-daly-2014-6#ixzz36TGRMSjr

5 Minutes Of What The Media Actually Does To Women

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in Advice, Health, Resources | 0 comments

True fact: Almost 100% of the images you see of models and celebrities are altered.

 


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A Glimpse At How The Media Treated Women This Year

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in Advice, Parenting, Resources | 0 comments

The following clip is a glimpse into how the media treated women this year. There are way too many cringe-worthy moments to say the least.


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Public Toilet – Breast Feeding

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Advice, Health, Parenting, Pregnancy, Resources | 1 comment

Public Toilet – Breast Feeding

“I support breastfeeding…but…I don’t need to see it.”

I’ll be honest, it’s hard for me to hold back on the expletives when this phrase (and so many others like it) get thrown around with utter disregard for the impact that they have.  These words used to hit me square in the gut, but now, two and a half years into our breastfeeding journey, I can see the ignorance, mis-education and selfishness that comments like this rest within.


But as a new mother…it wasn’t quite so clear-cut…

I remember sitting, squashed and repulsed, as I fed baby bean in the tiny and disgusting toilet cubicle. I remember blinking back the tears as I searched within myself for the strength to throw a smiling, two-finger salute to anybody who thought that this was an appropriate place to feed my child.  Now, I will nurse anywhere, but I didn’t come to realise the power of my mama-stripes overnight.  I had to see the gutter to make the choice to leave it.  To make a stand; proud and determined that my daughter and I deserved more.

More.

More than germ-infested public restrooms.


More than a square-inch within which to move.


More than the smell of other people’s faeces when feeding and nurturing my innocent bundle of love.


More.


breast-feeding

This is a great advertisement by the University of North Texas featuring inspiring Mama, Monica Young. The campaign promotes the passage of law HB 1706; which protect mothers from breastfeeding harassment.

I’m sure that most people would agree, but here’s the clincher: without fully accepting breastfeeding, many mothers will inevitably feel condemned to feed their babies in public bathrooms.  Hidden from and shamed by society.  Without opening our eyes and seeing what this actually looks lie in practice, I guess ignorance remains…

Introducing our visual saviours…our eye-openers…


A group of students at the University of North Texas designed an ad campaign to promote the pass of law HB1706; to protect mothers from harassment. These posters (see main picture) will be placed on the inside of every stall at the University to promote public awareness of the need to openly encourage breastfeeding acceptance…with no “But”.

The graphic design students approached Monica Young, 21, to be the face of this campaign.  Monica told me;  “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of this campaign.  I’ve heard more disturbing comments and received so many displeasing glances in the last four months than I have had my entire life!  I would love to nurse my son without putting my head down and since sitting for these pictures, I’ve proudly nursed wherever I please.  This project has inspired many people, but especially myself!”

My hope is that the storm raised by this campaign will open more hearts and eyes to the normalcy of breastfeeding, and with thousands of “likes” so far, this movement will surely only gain momentum.


Imagine fuelling this movement with a new, un-caveated mantra: “I support breastfeeding”.  And let’s leave it at that.

 

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Article courtesy: http://www.mamabeanparenting.com/

A Bunch Of Famous Men Star In White House PSA On Sexual Assault

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Advice, Health, Nicole's Blog, Parenting, Resources | 0 comments

A Bunch Of Famous Men Star In White House PSA On Sexual Assault

The following video is a powerful message from the 1 is 2 many campaign started in the U.S. by Vice President Biden.

Despite the significant progress made in reducing violence against women, there is still a long way to go. Young women still face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. In the last year, one in 10 teens have reported being physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Recognizing the need for change, the White House created a task force aimed at changing attitudes that lead to violence and educating the public on the realities of abuse.

What do you think?


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Identifying Child Sexual Assault

Posted by on Apr 28, 2014 in Advice, Featured Article, Parenting, Resources | 0 comments

Identifying Child Sexual Assault

The following video was produced by the Israeli Association of Rape Crisis Centres. The clip is a short animated movie for parent and kids. The intension of this venture is, on one hand, to guide parents on how to identify CSA, and, on the other hand, encourage children to share.


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To Protect Battered Women, You Have to Protect Their Pets

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Advice, Featured Article, Resources | 0 comments

To Protect Battered Women, You Have to Protect Their Pets

Earlier this year, a New York City woman—I’ll call her Mary—tried to leave her abusive husband. She contacted a shelter, but the shelter wouldn’t take pets. Nor would any other shelter in the city. Mary’s son said he couldn’t leave his three cats behind. And so, since Mary couldn’t leave without her son, she stayed outside the shelter system.

Pets do not get much attention in research on domestic violence, but there is reason to believe that situations like Mary’s are amazingly common. A 2007 summary of available research, published in the journal Violence Against Women, found that in the dozen or so shelters in the country that collect data on the issue, between 18 and 48 percent of women said they had delayed leaving their abusers because it meant leaving their pets. In one study conducted in upstate New York, researchers found that among women who had seen their pets abused, 65 percent had put off seeking help. Presumably, many others with pets never leave home at all.

In 2008, there were only four shelters in the country that accommodated domestic animals. Today there are 73, but that’s still only about three percent of shelters nationwide, and to date, no program in a city as large or dense as New York has allowed women to “co-shelter” directly with their animals.

Between 20 and 71 percent of pet-owning women entering shelters have seen their animals harmed or threatened by their abuser.

That might be changing. In June, Mary, her children, and their cats became the first participants in a program called People and Animals Living Safely, a six-month pilot conceived by the Urban Resource Institute, a non-profit that runs four shelters in New York City, and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a non-profit coalition of animal rescue groups. Now Mary, kids, and pets live together in a sparsely furnished third-floor apartment in the Urban Resource Institute’s biggest shelter. Ten of the building’s 38 units have been designated pet-friendly and outfitted with crates, litter boxes, window screens, and pet food. For the pilot period, women will be allowed to bring cats and smaller animals with them into the shelter, and if enough money can be raised to build a dog run in the alley, there are plans to accept dogs by December. The Urban Resource Institute hopes to expand the PALS program to all its shelters—and prod the rest of the city’s system to do the same. When I accompanied a group of visitors there this summer, Mary was proud to show us her three new matching pet crates; the cats sat pressed against the backs of their cages, warily eyeing the outsiders.

According to the Violence Against Women research summary, between 20 and 71 percent of pet-owning women entering shelters have seen their animals harmed or threatened by their abuser. Pets can become scapegoats or hostages, the targets of threats or abuse meant to terrorize another person. But animals can also be the lone comforters and sometime protectors of isolated victims. All this makes the prospect of leaving a pet behind particularly terrifying.

Recent history has yielded some spectacular demonstrations of how far people will go to protect their pets. Eight years ago, the nation watched as many residents of New Orleans refused to evacuate their homes in advance of Hurricane Katrina in order to stay with their animals, which were barred from shelters like the Superdome. A year after the storm, Congress passed legislation requiring states to include domestic animals in their disaster evacuation plans if they wanted to receive federal disaster aid. When Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard last year, New York’s shelters all aggressively advertised pet-friendly policies.

Katrina was an epiphany for policymakers, says Jenny Coffey, a social worker with the Mayor’s Alliance. “People were photographed holding on to their animals for dear life. The shelters that didn’t allow the animals didn’t realize how much they were losing. … What hasn’t happened,” Coffey adds, “is the trickle-down of that understanding to the small, personal life crises— specifically domestic violence. Until this plan.”

There are still glitches to be worked out with the PALS program. For instance, the city’s domestic violence hotline, which matches victims with shelters, does not yet ask callers whether they have pets. Consequently, few women learn that pet-friendly options exist. And it remains to be seen how shelters can best deal with allergies, pet health, and liabilities if residents are bitten or scratched.

But there’s little doubt that pets are on victims’ minds. In the shelter where Mary and her children now live, the walls of the basement rec room are covered with pictures from kids’ art-therapy sessions. Almost all of them are of cats and dogs.

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Kathryn Joyce is the author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, among other books.
Article courtesy Pacific Standard: http://www.psmag.com/

Crystal Meth // The Hardest Drug – Documentary 2013

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Advice, Featured Article, Health, Parenting, Resources | 0 comments

Crystal Meth // The Hardest Drug – Documentary 2013

A hard hitting documentary which follows a journalist as he explores the harsh underbelly of the California drug scene

Baby Makes Six: Victoria parents, we salute you.

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Advice, Parenting, Resources | 0 comments

Baby Makes Six: Victoria parents, we salute you.

A few months ago, a picture of a woman in one of those desperate parenting situations was covered by several news organizations. It showed the woman holding a toddler boy over a public trash can somewhere in B.C. so he could go pee — which he was doing in spectacular fashion.

In the photo on the news sites, both of their eyes were hidden by a black band, but I’m sure that poor woman knew it was her and the toddler.

Lots of people may think what she did was disgusting. I could only salute her in commiseration and acknowledge she most likely tried her best in a bad situation.

We live in a society that is quick to wag the finger at parents, to blame them for everything from rude kids to axe murderers. We should always strive to be the best parents we can, and to do our best to raise respectful, polite and, above all, moral children. But parents also don’t get nearly enough recognition when they are nailing it.

Maybe most people don’t notice us when we’re doing it right, and only see us in public when our child is pitching a fit, displaying rude behaviour or peeing in a garbage can.

But, parents in Victoria, I notice you. I watch you with your kids at the grocery store, on the bus and on the way to school. Most of you are doing an exemplary job, and it’s about time someone told you so.

I’ve seen you say no to the cookie, to insist the child try a vegetable, to make a child pick up litter dropped on the ground. I’ve noticed you leaping parental pitfalls with aplomb.

The grocery store is a form of parental purgatory, a place where toddlers are bound to throw tantrums and bigger kids can act out in all sorts of embarrassing ways. I have seen many a parent handle enormous tantrums with grace, humour and astounding self-control. I’ve seen many more avoid the tantrum with a well-placed game of I Spy, or another distraction.

I see a lot of great parenting on the bus, much of it done by younger parents with small children. A few weeks ago, a very young mother got on a bus pushing a stroller. Her baby was crying and the mother looked exhausted. She parked the stroller, sat down and tried to console the baby. Baby continued to cry. She tried to feed him. More wails. Finally, she put him over her shoulder, rocking him and whispering, “It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s going to be OK. I know it’s not your fault.”

I wanted to hug the mom; being on a bus with a crying baby is stressful, and yet she focused on baby’s needs rather than getting angry or breaking down in humiliated tears.

I cycle to work sometimes. One warm early autumn day, I watched a mother with a child in a trailer and another two on bikes pedalling her way up the switch bridge on the Galloping Goose. As she struggled to get up the hill, she was calling back to her cycling daughters, “You can do it. Just keep pedalling. Don’t give up. You’re so strong, I know you can!”

Her daughters were staring ahead, puffing and pedalling. When they got to the top, their mother cheering, they looked as proud as if they’d climbed the tallest mountain.

My loudest applause, though, is for the dad I passed on the Goose this summer, walking with his teenage son. A pretty woman jogged by, and the boy whistled.

His father put out an arm to stop him, looked him in the eye and said, “That was a terribly demeaning thing you just did. Don’t ever do that again.”

Bad parenting moments are like dandelions popping out of a verdant lawn. They’re easy to notice. This week, I encourage you to notice the grass instead. It’s everywhere.

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Article courtesy: timescolonist.com
Cindy MacDougall / Times Colonist

Comfort Food

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Advice, Featured Article, Health, Resources | 0 comments

Comfort Food

No one brings dinner when your daughter is an addict.

When my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, we ate well. Mary Beth and I had both read the terrifying pathology report of a tumor the size of an olive. The surgical digging for lymph nodes was followed by months of radiation. We ate very well.

Friends drove Mary Beth to her radiation sessions and sometimes to her favorite ice cream shop on the half-hour drive back from the hospital. She always ordered a chocolate malt. Extra thick.

Our family feasted for months on the lovingly prepared dishes brought by friends from work and church and the neighborhood: chicken breasts encrusted with parmesan, covered safely in tin foil; pots of thick soup with hearty bread; bubbling pans of lasagna and macaroni and cheese. There were warm home-baked rolls in tea towel–covered baskets, ham with dark baked pineapple rings, scalloped potatoes, and warm pies overflowing with the syrups of cherries or apples.

Leftovers piled up in the refrigerator, and soon the freezer filled up too, this tsunami of food offerings an edible symbol of our community’s abundant generosity.

Although few said the word breast unless it belonged to a chicken, many friends were familiar with the word cancer and said it often, without flinching. They asked how we were doing, sent notes and cards, passed along things they’d read about treatments and medications, emailed links to good recovery websites and the titles of helpful books, called frequently, placed gentle if tentative hands on shoulders, spoke in low and warm tones, wondered if we had enough food. The phrase we heard most was: “If there’s anything I can do … ”

In the following months, after Mary Beth had begun speaking in full sentences again and could stay awake for an entire meal, the stored foods in the freezer ran out, and we began cooking on our own again. Our children, Nick and Maggie, sometimes complained jokingly about our daily fare. “Someone should get cancer so we can eat better food,” they’d say. And we actually laughed.

Almost a decade later, our daughter, Maggie, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, following years of secret alcohol and drug abuse.

No warm casseroles.

At 19, she was arrested for drug possession, faced a judge, and was placed on a probation program. Before her hearings, we ate soup and grilled cheese in a restaurant near the courthouse, mere booths away from the lawyers, police officers, and court clerks she might later see.

No scalloped potatoes in tinfoil pans.

Maggie was disciplined by her college for breaking the drug and alcohol rules. She began an outpatient recovery program. She took a medical leave from school. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, diagnosed, released. She began years of counseling, recovery meetings, and intensive outpatient rehabilitation. She lived in a recovery house, relapsed, then spent seven weeks in a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.

No soup, no homemade loaves of bread.

Maggie progressed well at the treatment center. When the insurance coverage on inpatient treatment ran out for the year, she was transferred to a “partial house” where she and other women slept at night then were returned by van to the facility for full days of recovery sessions, meals, volleyball games, counseling, and horticultural therapy. This daughter who once stayed as far away from my garden as possible lest I catch a whiff of my stolen whiskey on her breath was now planting a garden herself, arranging painted rocks around an angel statue donated by a counselor, carrying buckets of water to nurture impatiens, petunia, delphinium, and geranium.

Friends talk about cancer and other physical maladies more easily than about psychological afflictions. Breasts might draw blushes, but brains are unmentionable. These questions are rarely heard: “How’s your depression these days?” “What improvements do you notice now that you have treatment for your ADD?” “Do you find your manic episodes are less intense now that you are on medication?” “What does depression feel like?” “Is the counseling helpful?” A much smaller circle of friends than those who’d fed us during cancer now asked guarded questions. No one ever showed up at our door with a meal.

We drove nearly five hours round trip each Sunday for our one weekly visiting hour. The sustenance of food, candy, and fiction were forbidden as gifts to patients at the treatment center. Instead, we brought Maggie cigarettes, sketchbooks, colored pencils, and phone cards. Any beef roasts or spaghetti dinners we ate were ones we’d prepared ourselves or bought in a restaurant on the long road to the center.

Then, late one night in June, Maggie and another patient were riding in the treatment center’s van on the way back to their house after a full day of the hard work of addiction recovery. The number of patients in the partial house had diminished from six a few days before, after a scandal involving small bags of ground coffee some smuggled from the house to the center and sold as though it were cocaine to addicts craving real coffee. (The center, like many, served only decaf.) Dozing off and comfortable in the seat behind the driver, Maggie might have been thinking of those coffee dealers who had been returned to the main facility or dismissed. Or maybe she was thinking about the upcoming wedding of her brother, Nick. A light pink bridesmaid’s dress waited in her closet at our house. Her release from the center was scheduled for two days before she and Mary Beth were to fly to Wisconsin for the wedding.

That night, an oncoming speeding car hit the van head-on.

The medics radioed for helicopters, and soon the air over Chester County, Pa., was full of them, four coming from Philadelphia, Coatesville, and Wilmington, one for each patient. The accident site was soon a garish roadside attraction of backboards, neck braces, IV tubes, oxygen tanks, gurneys, strobing lights, the deep thumping of helicopter blades, and the whine of turbines.

A newspaper picture later showed five firefighters, all in full gear, lifting a woman from a van—only her feet and an edge of the backboard visible. The van’s roof, dark and torn and jagged in the picture, had been removed by hydraulic cutters while the huddled victims, Maggie unconscious among them, were carefully covered with blankets. One of her front teeth lay in a puddle of blood on the ground.

When we saw her in the hospital, her face was a swollen mass of stitches, bruises, and torn flesh. Brown dried blood was still caked in her ears. Mary Beth carefully cleaned it with a licked paper towel, as if she were gently wiping Maggie’s face of grape jelly smudges or white donut powder just before Sunday school. At first, Maggie only remembered headlights, but soon she would mention “a cute EMS tech waking me up,” and the muffled chattering of helicopters.

The day she was released from the hospital, Maggie insisted on returning to the rehab center to complete her program, a heroine in a wheelchair among heroin addicts and alcoholics. On the way there, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch, where Maggie ate mashed potatoes, a little soup, and sucked a mango smoothie through a straw held carefully where her tooth was missing. Back at the center, we rolled her out to see her garden.

While Maggie was in the hospital, cards and letters filled our mailbox at home. For the two weeks that Maggie remained in rehab, and even while she flew to the Midwest, then wore her pink dress at Nick’s wedding and danced triumphantly with her cousins, offers of food crackled from our answering machine and scrolled out on email: “If there’s anything I can do … ”

 

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Article courtesy: Larry M. Lake
www.slate.com