JOIN US for Beyond Binary: Rethinking Cannabis and Solutions to the Overdose Crisis!

⏰ Friends in the NYC area, SAVE THE DATE for Beyond Binary: Rethinking Cannabis and Solutions to the Overdose Crisis!

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Tue, November 26, 2019
1:30 PM – 4:00 PM EST

Brooklyn Law School
205 State Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Please JOIN US for a not-to-be-missed, illuminating and thought-provoking afternoon at Brooklyn Law School with Harry Nelson, the nation’s leading healthcare attorney and the author of “The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain”; award-winning neuroscience journalist and the author of “Unbroken Brain,” Maia Szalavitz; and harm reduction pioneer, Joseph Turner, the President/CEO and Co-Founder of Exponents!

Our featured experts will explore the interwoven topics of how approaches to the Overdose Crisis are informed by cannabis reform, and the ongoing evolution of policy. The event is FREE and SEATS ARE LIMITED. (Refreshments and snacks will be served!) Sign up now!

Repping the Family Voice at DPA’s Reform Conference!

What:  Repping the Family Voice at DPA’s Reform Conference!

When: November 6-9, 2019
Where: St. Louis, MO
http://www.reformconference.org/
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Why: Families for Sensible Drug Policy will be repping the family voice at Drug Policy Alliance’s Reform conference! Carol Katz Beyer and FSDP Secretary-Treasurer Rory Fleming will both be present to speak to harm reduction advocates across the nation and world about our innovative programs like Family Drug Support! We will also be attending to meet with other Open Society Foundations grantees for an upcoming push in New Jersey to replace tough love approaches with evidence-based public health endeavors and compassionate policies.

Rally to Demand Cuomo Apologize, Sign Lifesaving Bill!

What:  Rally to Demand Cuomo Apologize, Sign Lifesaving Bill!

When: Tuesday, 10/29 @ 11:30  
Where: Cuomo’s NYC Office- 633 3rd Ave (meet at Plaza across the street)
Trains: 4/5/6 to Grand Central   
Why:
Last Tuesday, the harm reduction community held a rally in response to Governor Cuomo’s stalling on signing this lifesaving legislation–the only overdose prevention bill for low-income NYers that passed last session, and with bipartisan support at that. In response to our rally, Cuomo’s Senior Advisor and spokesperson said, “I’ll put this administration’s record of fighting the opioid epidemic against anyone else’s. Spare me the rantings of the Advocacy Industrial Complex and whomever funds them.” 
 
Coalition partners, family members from across the state, and our member-leaders found these statements to be tone-deaf, spitting in the face of the grief and anger we unite around to end this crisis. In response to these statements from the Governor’s office and his continued inaction on signing the bill that would expand access to lifesaving treatment, we are all returning to his office to DEMAND AN APOLOGY THROUGH HIS SIGNATURE ON THE BILL
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Building Communities of Recovery, National Conference & Expo on Sunday, 9/22/19 at the Hilton Atlanta/Marietta, GA!

💊Join FSDP advisory board member, Harry Nelson – Attorney Author, The United States of Opioids and other featured guest luminaries for the Building Communities of Recovery, National Conference & Expo on Sunday, 9/22/19 at the Hilton Atlanta/Marietta, GA!

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Harry Nelson is a leading expert on America’s healthcare future and is frequently called on to make sense of the most complex aspects of our healthcare system, delivering valuable insights for healthcare providers, government, consumers, employers, and investors. He is the founder of Nelson Hardiman, the largest healthcare law firm in Los Angeles, and advises regulators on the most sensitive and challenging emerging health policy issues. He was one of the first lawyers in the country to develop a framework for compliance in cannabis, helping to shape California law and pushing for expanded clinical research on other plant-based controlled substances, and continues to play a leading role in the expansion of telehealth and machine learning in medicine. He has also played a key role in education and advocacy, including his leadership of the Behavioral Health Association of Providers. https://lnkd.in/eQksTMS

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Click here to REGISTER NOW! https://lnkd.in/eStaX5W

Stand With Safehouse!

Where? U.S. Courthouse, 601 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

When: NOON, Sept. 5, 2019

FSDP is making the family voice heard loud and clear in front of the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia! We are holding a mass gathering and protest on its steps, while the second hearing in U.S. v. Safehouse proceeded inside. The lawsuit could potentially make Overdose Prevention Sites legal, but the U.S. Department of Justice is fighting against proven harm reduction services that have saved lives in other countries.

Carol and FSDP Board Member Rory Fleming are speaking to the people gathered about why these sites are so crucial and why we need them immediately.

safehouse 2FSDP team at Safehouse Philly rally 2019

Fighting Stigma to End the Overdose Epidemic – A Harm Reduction Workshop

In preparation for International Overdose Awareness Day, join the Families for Sensible Drug Policy and the New Jersey Department of Health for an interactive Harm Reduction Workshop!

Date: Wednesday, August 21

Time: 9:00am-2:30pm

Location: War Memorial 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton, NJ

As NJ DOH explains that “Harm reduction is a life-saving, evidence-based public health tool for New Jersey communities.”

FSDP President Carol Katz Beyer will be in attendance and is honored to be representing the family voice at the event. She will join national experts and local leaders about how harm reduction can prevent overdose deaths, reduce drug-related stigma, decrease transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C, and promote the dignity and health of all people with substance use disorder.

REGISTRATION IS FULL. PLEASE EMAIL: HretEducation@njha.com to be added to the waitlist.

FSDP Representing the Family Voice Worldwide!

carol1Families for Sensible Drug Policy is humbled and proud to share the news of a special recognition and milestone! President and co-founder, Carol Katz Beyer is honored and privileged to have been selected to represent the family voice in the 2019 Global Commission on Drug Policy’s annual report!

(Left: Carol with Tony Trimingham, Founder of Family Drug Support in Australia)

Her testimony about losing two of her beloved sons to fatal overdoses was featured [along with only six other people from around the world] to spotlight the harms inflicted upon our families through prohibition and the War on Drugs.

carolThe scheduling of substances directly impacts families by criminalizing and stigmatizing our loved ones who use drugs, while heavily promoting and profiting off of other legal (but dangerous) drugs like alcohol.

The report was presented on June 26, 2019 in Vienna to coincide with the World Drug Report. The full report is now available for download to readers worldwide, and available in six different languages.

 

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Spring and the Cycles of Change!

Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition of Family Matters – Families Matter, our new blog authored and curated by FSDP’s Guest Blogger–pioneering harm reduction therapist, educator, advocate and author Dee-Dee Stout.
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I have been a Star Trek geek for as long as I can remember.  This infatuation even rubbed off on my son who designed the current World Tour stage for the multi-award- winning mega-band Muse to be shaped like a Klingon Bird of Prey[1].  I never quite understood my fascination with all things alien, watching the new Star Trek Discovery series week after week in tears.  Really??  Crying over a TV show, and a sci-fi show no less??    Well, after some 50 years of dedication and fanaticism, I think I figured it out:

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To borrow a phrase:  it’s the future, stupid.  The past is finished, complete, even if I do mine it reasonably often, still attempting to understand things as they unfolded oh so long ago. There is wisdom that has come from that exercise as well as some futility.  But it’s the future that really does it for me, makes me weak-in-the-knees excited & emotional all at once, like the old roller coaster The Big Dipper in Santa Cruz does every time I ride her.  And the relationships, the dedication, the incredible sacrifice and love emanating through every episode brings my heart into my throat with regularity.  That all makes me desire to keep going – which some days is a monumental feat I will admit briefly – as I see real possibility for us all, the Human Race.  And besides, if a Vulcan can ask for forgiveness (Sarek, in Part 1 of the second season’s finale) who am I to not give such a gift to myself and my families:  both the one of chance and the one of choice?  It appears this is the work of my future, the work of ‘Change to Come’.

And so we’re onto Change for this month’s blog.  And here’s where I’ll begin…

change

Change is about leaving what we know behind, jumping into the abyss of the unknown just as a starship jumps into warp drive.  Never knowing what’s on the other side should be exhilarating for me (Remember? Rollercoaster lover?) and yet it’s always filled me with fear & uneasiness.  I’m still here though, alive – as are many others who shouldn’t be – and that’s all due to this thing called Change and those who have ridden this wave with us all.

“Most people never get a chance to learn what’s in their own hearts.  If we figure it out it’s often not what we expected, or even what we would have chosen for ourselves.” 

—Capt. Christopher Pike, 2019; Star Trek Discovery, episode 13

What’s in my heart?  I wondered when hearing this line of dialogue.  As so many others have too, I have studied several religions at various points in my life. My first exposure was as a child when I was baptized in the Congregational church of my maternal grandparents, and then as a grade school-age youngster in my family’s home (in Midland, MI) at the United Church of Christ (UCC) which they helped to build.  I am proud of the heritage of the UCC as a church of social justice and inclusivity.  Even at the height of my drug use, my minister refused my mother’s request that I not be allowed to attend nor teach at the church.  He believed in me and the idea that Change could only happen in a place of love & inclusion.  He also preached that God was not something outside of ourselves but rather inside of each and every living thing.  Finally, he told us that our church was about ‘accepting the unacceptable’ of society (that belief is partly what drew me early on to helping problem drug users ironically).  I also recall as a teen wishing to become Catholic as I saw many of my drug using friends able to attend confession each week which they believed absolved them of their “bad behavior” as well as allowed them to repeat it the following week.  To me, it simply appeared that Change for them was easy[2] – and I was jealous.

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In the pagan Wiccan traditions, every season brings Change of a new variety.  As we leave April and head into May, the Wiccan calendar moves to celebrate the festival of Beltane.  This date is also known more commonly as May Day.  It is a time for birth and renewal:  pastel colored eggs to signify fertility; a Maypole around which songs are sung while long ribbons twirl while celebrants dance around the phallic symbol of the pole, and rituals around fertility, crop blessings, and romance abound.  After a long hard Winter, Spring brought promise to our ancient people’s here; a promise from someone, somewhere, that they had not been abandoned nor forgotten.

I see Change as a promise to us too:  a promise that no matter what, nothing will ever remain the same; all will be well; don’t worry, be happy!  Within addiction, this is ultimately the challenge as there often seems little to be happy about when things turn bad.  When I was using drugs problematically, I see now that a good part of my reasoning was to keep things the same, status quo.  That provided me with ritual, some strange stability, and again ironically, a sense that I always knew what to expect.  As a person with a history of trauma, I yearned for something to keep me centered, something expected.  It’s also what kept me in violent/abusive relationships.  I recall saying out loud finally that I understood that “to know something – even something violent – was better than leaping into the unknown.”  Some people believe that those of us who remain in these violent relationships do so because they’re comfortable, that we become comfortable with the abuse.  I disagree. I say we become familiar with it and that’s the point:  it is better to stay with what we know v be so terrified that Change could be worse.  That’s how frightened we often are of Change.  IT is the enemy.  It is the same with addiction:  fear of Change can keep us from trying something new.

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And this leads me to the topic of families and the people they love who problematically use drugs.  We all resist change to some degree.  To some degree we would rather stay in the status quo, in the familiar, than take a risk into the unknown – “to go where no one has gone before” – or perhaps we’d simply prefer that someone else makes the Change and not us.  But this isn’t how Change works!

Recently a post from my dear friend and colleague Andrew Tatarsky[3] (Board member at FSDP) came through my Facebook feed, which Andy had reposted from a colleague apparently having a conversation with Dr. Gabor Mate, the renowned trauma & addiction expert and author.  Much like my beloved Star Trek it, too, has left me in tears each time I read it.  I hesitate to repost this dialogue here for fear of offending people reading this blog.  But I am going to take that chance and hope you will hear the hope and joy and see the “Way Out” – as our Brit neighbors wittily call an exit – as I unexpectedly did after reading it. Bring the hankies.  Here goes:

“We weren’t quite finished yet. I wanted to know about family members who are dealing with addiction. What can they do for a loved one who’s caught in the grips of active addiction? Because when people are that deep in addiction, they’ve lost themselves—they’re gone in a way. I know I was. I know there was nothing my family could have done no matter how much they wanted to.”

Gabor didn’t agree with me. “You don’t know that. What you do know is what they tried didn’t work, but you don’t know that there’s nothing they could have done. In one sense, you are 100 percent right: There’s nothing they can directly do to change your mind. There’s nothing they can directly do to change your mental status. There’s no way that they can talk to you, advise you, control you, beg you, accuse you. That does not mean there’s nothing they could have done. Imagine if your family had come and said, ‘Chris, here’s how it is. We recognize that your addiction is not your primary problem. Your primary problem is that you’re in a lot of pain. And that pain is not yours alone. That pain has been carried in our family for generations. And we’re as much a part of that pain as you are. You’re just the one who’s soothing it with that behavior. In fact, you’re the one whose behavior shows us how much pain there is in our family. Thank you for showing that to us. So we’re going to start working on you, because we realize that we’re as much a part of it as you are. We’re going to take on the task of healing ourselves. We invite you to be there if you feel like it. And if you’re not ready, sweetheart, then just do what you need to do right now.”

“Families also have to decide, can I have this person in my life, or can I not? If I want them in my life, there must be certain rules, like they can’t steal from me and so on, but if I can have them in my life, I must accept them exactly as they are, exactly where they’re at, and 100 percent accept that right now they’re using because they feel they need to. I’m not going to nag them, cajole them, advise them. I’m not going to say a thing that they didn’t ask me about. I’m just going to accept that this is who they are and I’m just going to love them. That’s a rational decision to make. It’s equally rational to say, ‘You know what? It’s too painful for me. I can’t handle it. I can’t stand to see you do this to yourself. It’s too stressful. I can’t be with that, so I’m sorry, I love you very much, but I can’t be with you.’ That’s legitimate, too.”

“What is completely nonsensical—and unfortunately the pitfall for most families—is to try to be in the addict’s life and try to change them all the time. That’s the one thing you cannot do. So either accept or lovingly distance yourself, but don’t try to stay in there with the intent of altering the other person. To the addict, that signals only one thing: ‘They don’t love me the way I am.’ That’s my advice to families. I do believe that addiction in a person can be a healthy wake-up call for them and for everyone in their lives.” — Dr. Gabor Maté, Dead Set On Living

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Change, especially when we look at addiction(s), sure isn’t linear; not even close.  In fact, even the theorists behind the Stages of Change[4] now use a spiral model[5] rather than their traditional wheel.  Me?  I’ve always seen Change more like a pinball machine, and I’m no wizard:  you know, one minute you’re over here, the next down there, and a moment later, ding, ding, ding!  It’s unknowable, it’s exciting, and it’s scary as hell.  That’s the Change I know…and I am finally just beginning to like Change rather than fear and respect it like an overbearing & abusive parent.  Bottom line:  it always happens whether I like it or not!

If I may, this seems like a good point to insert briefly the 7 Stages of Change[6] (SOC) as they apply to any Change you might want to make, and of course I will provide you with references for more on them if you wish (apologies to anyone in the know here.  Feel free to skip this next part):  precontemplation, contemplation, preparation or determination, action, maintenance, termination & relapse/recycle.  In a nutshell, here’s the definition and task of each stage (please keep in mind that these stages aren’t linear; remember – pinball!!)

Precontemplation:  When my behavior is in this stage it means I can’t see it as a problem so I’m unlikely to see a need for change (think the old idea of denial).  Perhaps my family, friends, or employer is seeing a problem in my behavior.  So here the main task is to increase my awareness of the need to change – to help me/someone recognize that the cons of not changing are greater than the pros of change.

Contemplation:  This is the stage of thinking (insert Rodin’s The Thinker).  I see my behavior as being a possible problem but I’m not ready to commit to making a change.  Ambivalence lives here.  Think of this stage as “well, maybe I should make this change but…”

Preparation or Determination:  When my behavior is in preparation, you’ll know because I’m planning out the needed resources, discussing how and maybe even why I want to make this change.  I might even begin to take baby steps toward my healthier self.

Action:  In action, I’ve moved forward and state my intentions to keep on that path toward healthier living.  Any positive change[7] is the key here.

Maintenance:  Since I plan to maintain my change in this stage, I will need to work on recognizing obstacles and other speed bumps to my continued Change path.

Termination:  For the researchers, this stage was noted by the problem behavior being eliminated for at least 6 months.  This stage is often left out of behavioral health programs (including rehabs) however as many don’t believe this stage is reachable.  I believe this concept deserves review, and that “termination” should be viewed personally and individually.  For myself, I do believe my former addictive behaviors with alcohol and other drugs is done, finis, over with, hasta la bye bye.  I have all sorts of other problem behaviors to continue to work on but not those.  Others will likely feel more comfortable with termination being left out of the Spiral of Change.

Recycle/Relapse:  The researchers decided that the term relapse wasn’t good enough as it isn’t accurate for most people making Change.  This is because to relapse means to go back to the beginning, in this case to precontemplation. And while some people will indeed return to precontemplation, most will instead recycle back into one of the other pre-action stages.

 

 

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Spring appears to have finally come to the Bay area.  While we are all grateful to not have to endure yet another year of horrendous drought, we are equally grateful to get a respite from the torrents of rain that have devastated communities throughout our Golden State recently.  Even as I write this, we are being warned of a touch more showers coming tomorrow, hopefully the last spurts for the wettest April I recall in my 40 years here.  Spring is a natural time to think of change:  flowers blossom; mice mate and dogs give birth; the seasons shift as our little Blue Marble of a planet tilts on its axis once again.  Like the seasons, Change is both predictable and unpredictable at the same time: the only thing we can be sure of is that nothing will remain the same and that Change happens, constantly and without permission.  I can accept that or not but like the moonrise, it will happen everyday in spite of my feelings about it.  So will my Change.  I will continue to change and grow because to do otherwise will be more painful. This I now know for sure.  So, I will make room for the Change in the same way as the philosophical cat Garfield says so brilliantly: “Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks all over it!”  No one said I have to Change gracefully.  And I will wait to cry one more time at Part 2 of the final episode of this Star Trek series season to begin my long winter of wait for the next season to begin.  And the next season, and the next Change, will come gratefully – both for my beloved Star Trek and for all of us, if we can just hang on to each other a bit longer.  Let the adventure continue…

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[1] The 2019 Simulation Theory World Tour (www.muse.mu).  The simulation hypothesis or simulation theory proposes that all of reality, including the Earth and the universe, is in fact an artificial simulation, most likely a computer simulation, leading to the 1990s-influenced stage and costume designs. (Wikipedia, accessed 4.14.19; 2019 personal communication with Muse Creative Designer Jesse Lee Stout).

[2] Please do not interpret my comments here as a negative stance on the Catholic church.  This is merely how I saw things as a teen, quite simplistically.

[3] Andrew Tatarsky, PhD is the author of “Harm Reduction Psychotherapy” (Guilford Press) and the founding Director of The Center for Optimal Living in NYC.  He can be reached at http://centerforoptimalliving.com/.

[4] The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of Change was developed by the Drs. James Prochaska, Carlo DiClemente and John Norcross.  For more, please see their academic websites:  https://web.uri.edu/psychology/meet/james-prochaska/;   https://psychology.umbc.edu/people/corefaculty/diclemente/; https://www.scranton.edu/faculty/norcross/

[5] See “Changing for Good” by Prochaska, DiClemente & Norcross.

[6] There are a lot of good sources for SOC materials.  Here are a few standouts: https://www.lifehack.org/676832/stages-of-change-model; “Changeology” by John Norcross; “Changing for Good” by Prochaska, DiClemente & Norcross; “Changing to Thrive” by Drs. Prochaska.

[7] Thanks to my friend, the late Dan Bigg, founder of the Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA) for this simple phrase. For more on CRA, go to https://anypositivechange.org/

 

Come see us at Scandinavia House in NYC to learn about Innovations in Treatment!

Exciting news! FSDP is bringing communities together to empower families, restore health and save lives!

Thanks to the generosity of friends and partners around the world we are making the family voice heard and we want to share the message of harm reduction by spotlighting the work from all of the wonderful organizations whose contributions are vital to our mission.

FSDP Board Member Dr. Andrew Tatarsky will be presenting at Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue, New York City on April 12 during an all-day panel discussion hosted by the NY State Psychological Association. The event is titled Addiction Treatment At The Crossroads: Clinical Innovations, and presenters will discuss how the rise in opioid use and introduction of medical marijuana and psychedelics into clinical practice is revolutionizing the addiction treatment field.

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FSDP will have a table, so please come to this event and say hi to our board members! 

To Register, Please click here for the NYSPA Website. Licensed Social Workers and Addiction Professionals will get Continuing Education credits for attending. The event is also co-sponsored by the Concentration in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling at The New School for Social Research

We invite everyone to send us any relevant materials that you would like to share as a resource and we will get the word out and let folks know how they can find you! Please email me; carol@fsdp.org for details and thanks so much for inspiring so many through the lens of public health and compassion. Together, we can make a difference! 

In Solidarity and Health,

Carol, Mary Kay, Andrew, Steve, Rory
Team FSDP

Overdose Prevention Centers: Promoting Health and Harm Reduction

sifs event

FSDP is committed to bringing our communities together, empowering families, restoring health and saving lives.  Help us end overdose! We are privileged to co-sponsor this enlightening and transformative event on April 5 at the College of New Jersey. Please visit us at our exhibit table and learn how you can help support families impacted by substance use.

Join us to learn from an expert panel of public health officials, researchers, legal experts, and community leaders on innovations in overdose prevention.

Admission is free, but space is limited — please RSVP to reserve your spot! Press interested in attending should e-mail akachalia@drugpolicy.org.

Facilitated by: Sandy Gibson, PhD, Professor, The College of New Jersey & Roseanne Scotti, Esq., State Director, New Jersey, Drug Policy Alliance

Panelists include:

  • Asw. Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Deputy Speaker, New Jersey Legislature
  • Kassandra Frederique, MSW, State Director, New York, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Rev. Dr. Leslie Robin Harrison, Pastor, Mt. Zion Church, Riverton, NJ
  • Jill Anne LaZare, Esq., Parent advocate & New Jersey resident
  • Russell Maynard, Insite Director, PHS Community Services Society, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Devin Reaves, MSW, Certified Recovery Specialist & New Jersey resident
  • Sheila P. Vakharia, PhD, Policy Manager, Office of Academic Engagement, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Jeanette Bowles, DrPH, MSW, Director of Research and Community Engagement, Safehouse, Philadelphia, PA
  • Rachael Evans, MD, Henry J. Austin Health Center, Trenton, NJ

Additional panelists to be announced.

Free networking lunch to follow the event at 1:00, and free parking and CEUs for those who register in advance via Eventbrite.

Co-sponsored by The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Drug Policy Alliance, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Center for Optimal Living, Families for Sensible Drug Policy, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of New Jersey, New Leaders Council – New Jersey, North Jersey Community Research Initiative, Prevention Resource Network, South Jersey AIDS Alliance, and Volunteers of America Delaware Valley.