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Did you know that with the current Opiod Epidemic, 197 Americans die every day from a drug overdose? (Source: National Center for Health Statistics) While that number is alarming, think about how high that number climbs when you think of all of the people who are affected by drug use; the parents who are desperately trying to protect their children, the spouses who are trying to make things work praying that things get better, the children who are caught in the middle, the employers who are left trying to cover shifts, and the addicts themselves who are left feeling embarrassed, guilty and shameful over their decisions and inability to control it. Addiction is a family disease…because it impacts everyone.
Addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are a male or female, old or young, educated or not, rich or poor. It grabs a hold of anyone it can and it holds on with vengeance. The stigma that comes with it are painful and causes many people to hide – whether they are the addicts or the loved one of an addict. The face of addiction is blurred because people are afraid to tell their story. But the good news is that recovery is possible. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, then they/you are not alone. Knowing that you are not alone on this journey and that it is safe to come forward, I think, is a huge first step. It was for us.
My family is one of countless families across the country who are dealing with addiction. We live in a prominent area, in a nice house. We drive a nice car. You see us at gymnastics and band concerts. But behind closed doors, we used to carry a big secret. We didn’t want to have people know. We were afraid of how they would react and what would they say. Would they think we were bad people? Bad parents? But the truth is, lifting that burden and sharing our story has been powerful. And life changing – not only for us, but for the people that it has inspired. That’s why I was so excited when LifeInCheck Drug Disposable asked to partner with us, not only to educate people on their awesome program, but to tell our story to put a face and a story behind addiction.
Our Story (The Short Version)
Dustin always has been the life of the party. He just has ‘that’ personality. Everyone gravitates to him, talks to him, wants to be around him. He has a way of making everyone feel special and you can’t help but just be relaxed around him. He experimented in high school with drinking and some drugs. His world at 18 was two things: instant gratification and fun.
When he was a senior in high school he fell in love. A different love. An unconditional love. He and his high school girlfriend had a baby. Fatherhood gave him a love he had never felt before. Unfortunately, when his son was two he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma and spent the next 18 months in a hospital ultimately to lose his battle with cancer.
Emotions weren’t something that he knew how to handle. And emotions and heartbreak on that level were things he couldn’t and didn’t want to accept. What followed was guilt, self hatred, bad relationships and decisions made with good intentions, but that seemed to fall short.
A few years later, he was in a stressful marriage with a few more children. He went to the doctor for a knee injury and was prescribed powerful pain medications. While his prescription ran out, his desire for the medication didn’t. Soon both him and his wife were in a severe active addiction to prescription drugs and eventually heroin.
Dustin had a long few years of getting clean, including a halfway house, a relapse, a ton of work and a lot of hard reflection on learning about himself, his patterns and how to change his way of thinking. He left his toxic marriage, was awarded full custody of his three children, and has worked on beginning his life for the first time.
I am so proud of him and his passion for the recovery community. It hasn’t always been easy. TRUST me. Addiction impacts everyone and is a fight that you team up together to overcome. But I’m beyond overjoyed at the journey he has been on, we have been on and our family has been on. He runs and chairs local meetings, sponsors and helps people in the recovery rooms, shares his story and the hope that recovery is possible. He is still the life of the party – only this time, the party is a little different. He makes sure that every person knows that they are valued, worthy of good things and good people. He makes sure to let people know that they are more than their addiction and that there is hope.
How You Can Help
One way that you can help is to just be open to understanding. Addiction doesn’t plague ‘bad people’. It can happen to anyone. It can be noticeable or it can often times be hidden behind closed doors. Being open and understanding makes people feel safe to come forward for help. I have attended countless meetings with Dustin in the past and I can’t tell you how much that I have learned from the paths of other people. Even though our paths have been incredibly different, at their core, our paths can be very similar. The saying of ‘more alike than different’ has been proven to me over and over again.
Saturday, October 27th 2018 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is an easy way that everyone can help fight the opioid epidemic in their own neighborhood.
LifeInCheck has created this tool to help you safely dispose of unused or expired medications. Simply enter your city and state or zip code and search radius and we will provide a list of safe drug disposal locations in your area. Using them is incredibly easy. You just go, drop in your unused or expired medications in the box and that’s it!
It is a discrete, safe and responsible way to dispose of your expired and unused medications. How does this help?
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately fifty-four million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription medications for non-medical reasons at least once in their lifetime. LifeInCheck has created this tool to help you safely dispose of unused or expired medications. Simply enter your city and state or zip code and search radius and we will provide a list of safe drug disposal locations in your area.
- Patient disposal of unused medications today takes many forms, from flushing down the toilet or pouring in the drain, to throwing in the garbage, or worse. More often than not, the end result is damage to our environment, drug diversion or the drug being abused by others. In an effort to assist in reducing these issues and bringing awareness to the massive opioid crisis that is plaguing many families, LifeInCheck created a Drug Disposal program that provides consumers with a safe option to discard their unused or outdated prescription medications in secure receptacles located across the US.
We headed over to get rid of some unused prescriptions and expired medicine. While the medicines that we had weren’t considered addictive or opioids, they have been collecting dust. I am almost embarrassed at how old this bottle was! It literally took us 30 seconds to properly dispose of! Here is a list of things you can and cannot bring to dispose:
- Drugs Accepted at Receptacles:
- Unused or expired prescription medication (Including Schedule II-V controlled substances)
- Unused or expired over-the-counter medication
- Pet Medication
- Drugs NOT Accepted at Receptacles:
- Schedule I controlled substances
- Illegal drugs
- Aerosol Cans
- Hydrogen Peroxide
If you have unused prescriptions or expired medications, please use this tool to look up a location near you. Our location was inside a local hospital. The staff was all friendly and helped direct us to the area. But honestly, you can’t miss the green box! It was seriously, the easiest thing ever!
One day we will share our full story (but it’s a long one!), but sharing the hope of recovery is our passion. If you or someone you love has a story to share on addiction or the opioid epidemic, feel free to share here or with your own friends and family. People do recover! Dustin is a living testament to that. Recovery has given me my best friend back, his parents their son back, and most importantly, his kids a father back. By sharing, listening and with things like the LifeInCheck Drug Disposal Program we can all take a huge step in working together in our families and communities.