U.S.: Moms United to End the War On Drugs Launches 'Ask Mom...How To Save A Life' Campaign

10341552_10202028628456768_543725113783383847_n.jpg

Moms Across the Country Are Demanding Greater Access to Naloxone, Which Can Reverse an Accidental Overdose in Honor of Mother’s Day

Moms From California, New York, Florida and Texas Share Their Personal Experience with Drug War Damage and Call for Harm Reduction Strategies

Mothers from around the country are devoting Mother’s Day and the month of May to a campaign for greater awareness and access to naloxone, a safe, non-narcotic drug that can reverse an accidental opiate overdose. They are telling their personal stories of drug war damage with video stories, articles and interviews.

More than 100 people are dying in the United States each day from accidental overdose. Tragically, many of these deaths could have been prevented. Mothers feel it their right and responsibility to have naloxone readily available, because often mothers are the first ones to witness an overdose and every moment counts in saving a life.

Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the War On Drugs, including having children who suffer from addiction and who have been repeatedly incarcerated, or have died from preventable drug overdoses and other drug related problems.

Moms were the driving force in repealing alcohol prohibition in the 30’s and now Moms are playing a similar role in ending the war on drugs, and demanding a change from punitive prohibitionist policies to strategies that reduce the harm associated with drug use and addiction. Mothers and doctors are coming together to demand science-based, compassionate health-oriented strategies.

In honor of Mother’s Day 2014, parents from across the nation and around the globe are making their voices heard in order to save precious lives, and encouraging people to join the “Ask Mom” campaign by changing their Facebook icon to the “Ask Mom” logo from May 7 to the end of the month. Link to logo:

Moms are promoting a new You Tube video, “Ask Mom…How to Save a Life” to demand access to naloxone to all first responders, including parents.

“My son is a survivor of both accidental overdose and incarceration,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, lead organizer of the Moms United to End the War on Drugs Campaign. “He was one of the lucky ones. Now, he is advocating with us to help others to save precious lives.”

“My son might still be alive if he were given naloxone,” said Denise Cullen, founder of Broken-No-More. “When Jeff died, he was on a waiting list to enter court-ordered treatment. He never had to wait to go to jail because it was too full.”

“Naloxone saved my life. Now, my son is a teenager and he is at risk,” said Maria Alexander, a member of A New PATH in Los Angeles.

“I was lucky; Naloxone saved my life, giving me a chance to find recovery," said Julia Negron, a drug counselor and activist in recovery. "My little sister was not so lucky. She overdosed at 33. Naloxone could have saved her life too.”

Leaders of the campaign include Gretchen Burns Bergman (San Diego), the mother of two sons who have both struggled with heroin addiction and repeated incarceration and founder of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing); Denise Cullen (Palm Desert, Calif.), a social worker specializing in grief counseling, whose son died from an overdose almost four years ago; Joyce Rivera (New York, N.Y.), mother who founded St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction and is the sister of an injection drug user who died of HIV/AIDS; Joy Strickland (Dallas), CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence, whose son was killed by drug prohibition-related violence; Julia Negron, a person in long-term recovery and the mother of a son who has struggled with heroin addiction; and Yolande Cadore (New York, N.Y.), a mom and director of strategic partners at the Drug Policy Alliance.

The Moms United campaign mission is to “end the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies. We are building a movement to stop the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs or who are addicted to drugs. We are urgently calling for health-oriented strategies and widespread drug policy reform in order to stop the irresponsible waste of dollars and resources, and the devastating loss of lives and liberty.”

Moms United to End the War on Drugs is a project of San Diego-based A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing), a 15-year old nonprofit organization that works to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness through education and compassionate support, and to advocate for therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies.

Moms United to End the War on Drugs “Ask Mom” Campaign Actions

San Diego, California – Effective January 1, 2014 a law was enacted that makes naloxone available to community overdose prevention groups through a standing order by a physician. A New PATH is leading a collaborative campaign to train and distribute naloxone to parents and individuals at risk through a standing order by a local physician. Seven individuals have taken the trainer course, and trainings are scheduled to begin in May 7, 2014.

Orange County, California – Moms United and Broken-No-More are organizing a naloxone overdose prevention training at a large community college in Orange County, where the overdose rate is extremely high. The goal is to reach out to “at risk” young people, and families and friends of drug users.

Los Angeles, California – Moms are enlisting help from Kaiser Hospital and working with A New PATH and other organizations to get sober living establishments to support access and training on naloxone administration. They are sharing their own stories of overdose.

Portland, Oregon - Jackson County passed a new law in 2013 that that makes naloxone more widely available to at risk populations and first responders. Moms United representative Claudia Little is working with legislative representatives for greater awareness and access to naloxone.

New York, N.Y. - Since 2005 St. Ann's Corner of Harm Reduction has distributed naloxone through the completion of nearly1000 Opioid Prevention and Response Trainings to women, a majority of whom are mothers. These women/mothers have the power to eradicate unintentional overdose death by saving their child, your child, every child.

Suncoast, Florida – Mothers have mobilized and are joining forces with statewide agencies and local coalitions to increase overdose awareness/naloxone access. They continue to educate the community, legislators and other stakeholders in the hopes of a 2015 Overdose Prevention/Naloxone access bill.

Washington, D.C. – Mothers are handing out fliers during May to “at risk” populations about naloxone, to increase awareness and demand for this lifesaving drug. Announcements on Mommieactivist and sons radio show for Month of May on the Sunday Evening Weigh In. ASK MOM / Tell mommieactivist@gmail.com.

Dallas, Texas – Moms are holding (chat room) discussion groups for May and will educate attendees about the value of naloxone in saving lives. Legislation on overdose prevention including naloxone access is part of Mother’s Against Teen Violence’s 2015 legislative agenda.

Chicago, Illinois - Since 2012, mothers across the state were trained in naloxone use and are training others in how to save a life. Many mothers are doing ongoing naloxone trainings around Chicago area and downstate Illinois. One mother who lost her son to overdose has become a registered naloxone prescriber. There are now naloxone trainings, hosted by someone affected by overdose, in any given week in Illinois.

To read more about the “Ask Mom…How to Save a Life” campaign, please see the Huffington Post article, “Moms Taking Action to Save Lives,” written by Gretchen Burns Bergman.