People can change…why faith is their bottom line and telling our story is so vital to changing public perception…

President Obama’s speaking engagement at the National Drug Abuse Summit this week in Atlanta has created a week-long focus on our national opioid painkiller abuse epidemic, among other recovery and/or substance abuse related topics.

A friend of mine, Kim Manlove, was invited to be on the original panel of some 40 speakers from around the country. President Obama was a recent “surprise”addition to the stage, joining a panel with Sanjay Gupta, an ER doctor and two people in recovery from addiction. 

Amazing conversation with President Obama at this year’s National Summit on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse

Making in-roads on all cylinders, on all fronts…

Doctors resist new painkiller prescribing procedures

Several stories on or related to the topic are floating around this week’s new cycle:

The first news piece outlines new procedural recommendations as well as mentions the availability of a national database to assist doctors in discovering potential abuse signs. Although I’m sure it will take doctors a little more time in their already busy routines to add these checks and balances, I believe it’s worth it.  And, let’s be clear – this is not an easy or perfect “silver bullet.”  But, it seems to me if we’re going to make inroads to eradicating this epidemic, we have to hit on all fronts, on all cylinders and try anything and everything we can to turn the tide…

I believe every citizen of our country is worth it.

I believe every person in our neighborhood is worth it.

I believe anyone in our family is worth it.

I believe even the “outcast” and the person “on the fringes” of “society” is worth it.


Like Edison, we may need to try 10,000 ways that won’t work in order to find a couple that might work…


I know Bob S.’s friend’s grandson is worth it.

I know my mother was worth it.

I know I’m worth it.

This is no longer a war on drugs…it’s a war FOR recovery!
Treatment works!  Recovery works!

Our new “recovery czar” Michael Botticelli coined this shift in language as one of many ways to start to change perception, to shift our emphasis and to reduce stigma in America. He is the FIRST person in this position (formerly known as “drug czar”) who is a person in long-term recovery.

His story is powerful…

A frank conversation on recovery, the so-called “war on drugs” and other important topics –  between two individuals in long-term recovery

As in war, some are fighting to maintain control,
their position of power,
the status quo…

Rather than own their own part of the sidewalk, and work in tandem with, and not against, our government allies, the industry lobbyists are having a field day this week.  They are reacting in full force against the government’s meddling in their sphere of control and power. Whoops, I meant influen$e…my apologies.  [sarcasm duly noted, for clarity]

One reaction, from the American Pharmacists Association (APA) on their Facebook page, starts with a question (and then force feeds us their opinion as the one any only answer):

Health officials are calling on physicians to use new painkiller prescribing procedures designed to prevent the abuse, misuse and death from taking high-risk and addictive drugs. However, some physicians say new process is burdensome. What, if any, impact would these new procedures have on pharmacists?

Thanks, but I’ll look more deeply and more broadly before I form my opinion…

On an individual level,
it’s still easy to oversimplify the issue,
to deny one another’s humanity…

It feels like this week is “three steps forward” in some areas, and two steps back in others….

Having said that, I stumbled across several painfully sincere comments about “druggies and dealers” among the online comments following one of the articles I included in an earlier section.

One of the commentators believes the following “is at play…”

…I started having chronic pain over 10 years ago and the tears from the pain flow daily. No one really cares. They are too worried about the druggies and dealers, so who has time and enough compassion to help those in real pain??? NO one !!!

~ Tina Dinnler, Facebook

My summary of the theme across many of the comments is:

…the medical community has influenced our government leaders to put the interests, safety and needs of “druggies and dealers” before that of other [more well-deserving] citizens [higher on the social ladder] who have valid life-changing medical pain and needs.

my summary interpretation from the article and comments regarding the new recommended prescribing procedures, from the APA’s Facebook page [sarcasm duly noted, for clarity]

Of course, the commentator is one of those more valuable citizens to which she refers. And her needs or the needs of people like herself are far more valuable than anyone else’s (especially the bottom feeders of our pristine, Puritan-like society) — the “druggies and dealers.” 


How easy it is to label, then dismiss.

We all do it at one time or another.  We turn our backs on our fellow human being.  We observe a behavior, and quickly assign motive, intention and eventually blame. We avoid owning our side of the sidewalk and cleaning it up as and when necessary, and instead direct everyone’s attention, sometimes cleverly and with great intention and manipulation, to the other side of the street.  Thus, nobody ever sees us as human.

And, we can therefore deny another’s humanity.


How easy it is to give up.

It’s easy to say people can’t change, because it protects our emotions, our heart, our vulnerable nature as caring, compassionate and trusting beings. If we say people can’t change, we somehow feel safer…and we don’t have to look at our own “shit.”  At least for now…eventually, we all hit our own “bottom” of despair…we start to lose hope…

Without hope, there is no trust…and without trust, there is no faith.

And without faith, there is no love.


How easy it is to give up on love.

And without love, there is no hope for change.

People can change…

Like many “druggies and dealers,” I have a past.

Like many “druggies and dealers,”  I have a story.

My story of early recovery in 2010

Todd, most of us don’t make it…

I’ll always remember those somber words from my first sponsor.

When I echoed his words back incorrectly with a naive “yea, I see what you mean…many of us don’t make it,” he corrected me with firmness and importance “No, Todd – most of us don’t make it…”

Like most, my roommate at Fairbanks Michael B didn’t make it….
Like most, my mother didn’t make it, dying alone on the floor of her family room…
Like most, a friend and former using buddy of mine Graham didn’t make it…

Like some, a friend and former dealer Jake did make it…
Like Jake, I’m making it…but only one day at a time.

Like Michael B.’s father questioned me on the phone, can people change?
Like my mother, most of us don’t want to change…
Like Graham, some of us want to change…but lose the battle to chance…

Like Jake has shown his two toddlers, born after he got clean, that people can change…
Like Jake, I’ve started to change…after almost 5 years of playing with chance…

Center for Disease Control clock of prescription drug and Heroin deaths so far this calendar year


Like her grandson who will get out of jail in May…
He will faces his own opioid and heroin addiction as a homecomer

he will need love, trust, faith…

and a home where people care about him.

Together, let’s keep him from becoming number 6,893…

Trust, Faith, and Coming Home…

People CAN change…

You already have a home.
Right here.
You have people that care about you.

Even when there isn’t trust, there’s always faith.
Faith that whatever the other is doing, it’s for a good reason.
As long as he has faith in me, I’ll faith in him…

Hey, hun…your trust is too important to me…

I have faith in you…just like mom had faith in me…

This is an angel from from my mom’s garden. She sits up in the rafters of our porch, looking down on those who come and go from our house watching over us with peace, love and light.  I love you mom.  I will also be your little boy.

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I see life as full of possibilities and the world full of beautiful people possessing unique and often untapped talents. I’m a learner and connector, seeking ways to leverage the abundance in this world through strong community.

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