Join Us for International Family Drug Support Day 2018

Please join us with friends, families and coworkers in commemorating International Family Drug Support Day (IFDSD) 2018 with our global partners across the miles.


The 1st National Family Drug Support Day (IFDSD) was held on February 24, 2016–the anniversary of the passing of our good friend Tony Trimingham’s beloved son Damien from a drug related overdose. Tony, the founder of Australia’s Family Drug Support, partnered with FSDP to bring IFDSD to the United States in 2017 and the day has now become an annual international event to highlight the need for families like ours to not only be recognized and heard but to be supported and encouraged to speak about their concerns and their needs.


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Thanks to all of the amazing participants who came out strong to make last years event a huge success! We are excited to unite old friends and welcome new ones, as we invite everyone to host a gathering—large or small–and raise awareness in your communities. Watch and share this important video about IFDSD with a heartfelt message by Tony.


The objectives of IFDSD are to:

  • Reduce stigma and discrimination for families and drug users
  • Promote family drug support services for families and friends
  • Promote harm reduction strategies for families and friends

In addition, the following issues will be highlighted:

  • The important role of FDS and FSDP volunteers in providing family support in the US, Australia, and the world
  • Reducing fatal and non­fatal overdoses from drugs including pharmaceuticals
  • Promoting the widespread availability of naloxone
  • Promote greater inclusion of family members in the decision making process for families experiencing problematic drug use
  • Promoting greater support and resources for treatment services for those who want it and need it


  • Be an ambassador for change in your neighborhood by raising awareness within your community
  • Request to meet with your local schools, doctors, political representatives, law enforcement and clergy and we will provide you with a tool kit and promotional materials to support you in your advocacy. Talking points for communicating with the public are here.
  • Invite friends, family or coworkers to share an informal gathering over food or coffee to share discussion and voice the issues.
  • Call your local state and federal legislators. To locate your US representative click here. Talking points for communicating with the legislators are here.
  • Host a harm reduction workshop
  • Invite stakeholders to participate in a naloxone training
  • Promote IFDSD on social media: #SupportTheFamilyImproveTheOutcome

All participants will receive a personal event page that will showcase your organization and identify you as a supporter of this important event.

We welcome your ideas so please feel to be as creative as you like. For more information of to forward your ideas please contact Barry Lessin or Carol Katz Beyer

Your tax-deductible gift will directly help fund our community-based events and reach more people to reduce stigma and discrimination for impacted families, promote better access to treatment and drug support services and encourage wider distribution of naloxone that will reduce fatal and non fatal drug overdoses.

We need your help to make sure that the voices of families continue to be heard. We invite you to stand with FSDP in our battle to empower families, restore health, and save lives.HandDonate

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 Your tax-deductible gift no matter how big or small will help us to forge ahead and change the way our policies and society interact with our families.

FSDP Testifies at the New York State Assembly Committee on Alcoholism And Drug Abuse

Thanks to our friends at VOCAL-NYFSDP was honored to be asked by New York State Assemblyperson Linda B. Rosenthal’s office to submit testimony to the NY State Assembly Standing Committee On Alcoholism And Drug Abuse on the adequacy of funding for prevention, treatment, and recovery services in New York State.
Carol Katz Beyer and I had an opportunity to represent the voice of the family to share the family perspective acknowledging that on how to use funds to better ensure that life-saving harm reduction strategies and tools will get into the hands of families before problems develop and therefore be able to prevent many overdoses:


“The staggering number of people who are relapsing and dying is unacceptable despite having proven strategies to reduce mortality and improve care.  New York State has made it a priority to emphasize the need to address substance use disorder as a public health issue but we now must take the next steps to shift funding streams to enable universal access to proven life-saving public health tools such as medication-assisted treatment, naloxone, and harm reduction services.”

The full testimony can be found here.

FSDP is Proud Participant in #GIVINGTUESDAY 2017

#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the

Families for Sensible Drug Policy is a proud participant in this year’s campaign because our families impacted by the complex challenges surrounding substance use are in the throes of an unprecedented public health crisis.

Last year, 64,000 of our loved ones were lost to preventable overdose. So it is with a heavy heart that we must forge ahead to demand accountability for better access to lifesaving services for those still at risk. We must hold our federal government accountable to stand by their recent commitment to approach the opioid epidemic with a public health response, greater access to medication-assisted treatment, and wider availability of the opioid antidote naloxone.

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This year #GivingTuesday falls on November 28 and demonstrates how every act of generosity counts, and that they mean even more when we give together. It harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season. It inspires people to take collective action to improve their communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they believe in, and help create a better world.

FSDP is privileged to serve a growing network of families, professionals and advocates whose ardent stories bear testimony that seeks to implement our new paradigm of family support.  In partnership with Australia’s Family Drug Support, FSDP offers our families a harm reduction-informed continuum of care offering a full array of effective substance use disorder treatments on a public health continuum that are integrated with overdose prevention efforts.

Now more than ever, we must be vigilant and demand a continuum of care that is based on best practices and harm reduction—our loved ones do not need to be arrested to get better. Getting life-saving harm reduction strategies and tools into the hands of families BEFORE problems develop can prevent many of the overdoses. We do this with every other condition and we must advocate for the same for substance use issues.

We deserve to have these options readily available to us in our communities and homes. Our families deserve nothing less than the best care we have to offer. FSDP demands best practices as a baseline found in every other condition.

We need your help to make sure that the voices of families continue to be heard. We invite you to stand with FSDP in our battle to empower families, restore health, and save lives.

Your gift no matter how big or small will help us to forge ahead and change the way our policies and society interact with our families.

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FSDP Celebrating Life: A Town Hall with New Solutions for the Opioid Crisis

Please join FSDP co-founders Carol Katz Beyer and Barry Lessin, Team FSDP and our partners–The Center for Optimal Living, Harm Reduction Coalition, The New School, International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York State Psychological Association’s Division on Addictions, and VOCAL-NY—who are representing our families to demand solutions based on a new paradigm of healthcare that provides a comprehensive continuum of care with multi-tiered strategies that empower families with reality-based solutions.

celebratelife_townhall (FINAL)We are privileged to be represented on the panel of representatives from the fields of public health, psychotherapy, community engagement, public policy, and The New School’s Student Health Services who will present their perspectives on the impact of opioid use, the opioid crisis, and how to reduce the number of overdoses.

We will also be training attendees in overdose prevention strategies and naloxone kits will be provided to those who wish to receive them.

Following an overview of the current opioid use patterns and overdose rates in New York, we’ll discuss the programmatic work that is being done to address the multiple challenges associated with this issue. We’ll hear from people who work with active drug users as well as current and former people using drugs contributing to the panel discussion. In addition, treatment professionals will describe an integrative harm reduction approach to working with people using drugs.

Overdose deaths are preventable and we shouldn’t be punished for making progress in our in our path to optimal health and well-being! Lives will be saved when we shift our thinking about treatment to complement and support public health overdose prevention strategies. A harm reduction-informed continuum of care linking harm reduction strategies to the full array of effective substance use disorder treatments needs to be integrated with overdose prevention efforts.

Families impacted by substance use deserve the best care available. Every other medical condition is guided by best practices and we expect nothing less. We are in the best position to help our loved ones and we demand the information and services required to give us the best chance for successful outcomes.

This event is open to the public and is free of charge.

Reflections on Stigma’s Insidiousness in the Addiction Treatment Community

A therapist colleague of mine who doesn’t work within a harm reduction framework has a nephew who is struggling with problematic substance use and she shared with me last week that she finds herself being more sympathetic to her clients than her nephew about their drug use.

fsdp-our-missionI had the same reaction as her when I was involved as a family member in my own family’s therapy experience when my nephew was working on his substance misuse issues. It was before I was a harm reduction therapist and my incongruent reaction to this opened my eyes to my own perceptions of my substance using clients and I realized just how pervasive the judgments about people using substances are in our culture.

fsdp-donateThe judgments were so ingrained for me, it took me several years to shed these stereotypes, but as family members we don’t have the luxury of time and such an opportunity for this awareness. These judgments are damaging to individuals and families in treatment–damage that makes healing that much more difficult. It reinforces, and sometimes adds to, the trauma that many people enter treatment wanting to address.I’ll be exploring the effects of stigma on our families in future posts and would love to include your reactions on how it has affected you and your relationhip with your loved one, and what have you done, or do, to adjust…

I’m curious about people’s reactions to this from the perspective of a family member, a person using substances, or a treatment provider?

Any suggestions for reducing the treatment-inducing stigma that can can be such a barrier to good care? Email me at with your experiences and I’ll share them in future blog posts.

Join the FSDP Community for International Overdose Awareness Day #IOAD17


International Overdose Awareness Day #IOAD17 is a heartfelt and emotionally charged reminder for our families that far too many of us have endured the unimaginable loss of our loved ones to overdose.

Last year more than 59,000 lives were lost as a consequence of accidental overdose and each year on August 31, friends and advocates unite in their grief to demand more from state, local and federal agencies. Research shows that many of these deaths could have been prevented by ensuring that our loved ones had access to the same continuum of care offered to individuals diagnosed with other complex health conditions.

Our families deserve person-centered screenings and alternative solutions that meet them where they are with the goal of optimal health and wellness based on individual needs and unique circumstance. The encouraging news is that a preponderance of evidenced based research exists that will increase access to lifesaving services and restore some of the humanity and support that families impacted by substance use deserve and we need your help to raise awareness!
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Families for Sensible Drug Policy (FSDP) is privileged to serve a growing network of families whose ardent stories bear testimony to our global community that seeks to implement innovative public health initiatives with the goal of reducing the harms. We are launching a membership drive to commemorate International Drug Overdose Awareness Day and invite you to JOIN US in solidarity and remembrance for those lost and to demand an urgent public health response to save the lives of those who still remain at serious risk for fatal overdose.

JOIN us for International Overdose Awareness Day and support our families. Sign up now for our membership drive and receive FSDP’s Resource List For Advocates and FSDP Co-Founder Barry Lessin’s articles on Parenting from a Harm Reduction Perspective.

Together, we can change ineffective policies and attitudes shrouded in punishment and stigma and advance sensible health based solutions that offer our families the dignity and healing we deserve.

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An FSDP Advocate Planting Seeds of Harm Reduction in the South

FSDP is proud of our team of advocates and we’re pleased to share the latest blog post from our  Community Outreach Advocate Janet Goree and how she is planting seeds of harm reduction in the Georgia state corrections system…

As Community Outreach Advocate for Families for Sensible Drug Policy,  I take every opportunity to embrace and share our mission of empowering families to increase access to effective substance use disorder treatment and reduce the harmful consequences of oppressive drug policies.

After my youngest child was sentenced to a very long prison sentence I looked for a support and advocacy group where I could make a difference, an organization that was doing work that I could believe in. I found FSDP and knew I was home, especially because of the focus on families.

One of my regular outreach activities is visiting the Mitchell County Correctional Institute, a medium/minimum security facility housing 135 state inmates as well as 24 county offenders. The facility sits just on the outskirts of the tiny town of Camilla Georgia where I live.  Every other month I arrive at the facility on a Friday morning to speak to a roomful of inmates whose release dates are in sight.

The facility is run by Warden Bill Terry and is an exception in Georgia because of the commitment of the warden and his programs manager Kim Hatcher. They want to make sure the men leaving their facility have as many tools possible to make sure they never return.

My background is in child abuse prevention, which I became involved in after the shaking death of my granddaughter Kimberlin. I became involved in prison reform after my son Bobby was sentenced to thirty years in prison for robbing a drugstore.

Janet G blogI have just started to introduce harm reduction into the presentation. The first part of my presentation to the inmates is about the stressors they will be facing when they get out and some ways they can cope with them. I do an exercise with them called ” match the crime to the time”. The two crimes are 1) shaking a six week old child causing her death, and 2) robbing a drugstore while being improperly withdrawn from methadone at the hands of a professional. No one was physically injured.

The two sentences are 1) five years probation and 2) thirty years mandatory minimum. While most on the outside not involved with theJanet G blog1he work we do would guess that the murder of the child would certainly be the more severe sentence, the guys on the inside all get it. You see there is no money in locking up murderers but hundreds of millions of dollars have been made behind the war on drugs. Both of these crimes and sentences have impacted my family as my son Bobby is the one serving thirty years.

Just before I leave I tell them about FSDP and assure them that there are people out working very hard to change things, people that care about them. I look each and every one of them in the eye and wish them luck. Then I quietly say a little prayer as I walk out the doors they are locked behind.

FSDP at the 2017 International Harm Reduction Conference

Representing the voice of family in the global harm reduction community, FSDP is enthusiastically looking forward to attending the 2017 International Harm Reduction Conference #HR17, May 14-17, 2017 in Montreal, Canada.


The theme of this year’s conference will be  ‘At the Heart of the Response’ and will address “innovative harm reduction services, new or groundbreaking research, effective or successful advocacy campaigns and key policy discussions or bates. With delegates from more than 70 countries the programme not only reflects the truly global nature of our movement but also addresses key international issues”

The conference will also afford us the opportunity to see old friends, meet new ones, and and forge new relationships to bring more life-saving strategies and approaches to our families.

Check out our blog for our report from the conference!  

FSDP Introduces International Family Drug Support Day to the US

FSDP extended our global presence by standing in solidarity with our friends and advocates around the world to partner with Australia’s Family Drug Support to introduce the inaugural International Family Drug Support Day (IFSDS) to the US on February 24, 2017!

This year’s theme was  #SeeThePersonNotTheDrug


Our loved ones are brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and grandparents, employees, students, athletes, musicians, who also happen to use substances. The reality for many families is that there are limited programs and services available and many policies adversely affect families, all too often under a cloud of stigma and shame.

FSDP community members held events in the Eastern and Southern US as well as in Bawahlpur Pakistan. Event venues and locations were very diverse, hosted and attended by families, drug users present and past, healthcare professionals, students, and treatment centers in FSDP members local communities.

The message focused on the need to view substance use through a human rights and public health lens, rather than as a criminal justice issue, demanding informed and innovative policies and programs that reduce the likelihood of harm for our loved ones. and  access the same best practices as experienced in every other medical and mental health condition.

IFDSD will be held on  on February 24 every year coinciding with the anniversary of the passing of Damien Trimingham, the son of Family Drug Support founder Tony Trimingham’s , founder, from a drug-related overdose. IFDSD will be an annual event to highlight the need for families impacted by substance us to not only be recognized and heard but to be supported and encouraged to speak about their concerns and their needs.


FSDP Brings the Voice of our Families to Aspiring Medical Professionals

IMG_1960One of FSDP’s missions is to bring the family voice to the various segments of our society that directly impact our health. So I was excited to be joined by FSDP members Brooke Feldman and Kenneth Anderson, as well as Fred Goldstein, Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) to share our perspectives on a panel discussion for medical students, “The Culture and Misperceptions of Addiction”, held at PCOM on Thursday, January 5, 2017.

The panel allowed us to reach healthcare providers at the beginning of their careers with a message about harm reduction, drug policy reform, progressive treatment and recovery, and substance use as public health and human rights issues. IMG_7851The audience of medical students were actively engaged and their questions prompted discussion about the nature of addiction, co-morbidity (dual diagnosis), engaging people in treatment, stigma, policy, epidemiology of substance use, impediments to effective care, conflicts of doctors…

Ken Anderson, founder of Harm Reduction, Abstinence and Moderation Support (HAMS) shared his expertise about the epidemiology and myths of substance use, addictIMG_7845ion, and recovery. Recovery advocate Brooke Feldman shared her unique perspectives on the lived experience of substance users, stigma, and the unique paths taken by people in recovery. I addressed some of the issues around the influences of culture and policy on substance users and families, and strategies for engaging young people and families in treatment.IMG_7846

Many thanks to our gracious hosts at PCOM, especially Maggie Gergen for coordinating the event, and FSDP Harm Reduction Epidemiologist April Wilson Smith for developing this event, and Co-Founder Carol Katz Beyer for her guidance.