I Hate Heroin

A poem by Daniel Hlawacz

heroin poem

Sometimes the cruel reality of life hits
That every moment is to be cherished as priceless
Wake up this morning but by the night we could be lifeless
The angel of death came calling to take away another nice kid
The fragile state we live our life in
We succumb to the deadly battles we can’t stop fighting
The disease of addiction is like clashing with a Titan
But somehow makes the path to death look enticing
Caskets filled with broken dreams
Mother emotionally coming apart at the seams
Questioning why the lord didn’t intervene… Read more...

Remembering Daniel Louis Rafferty

by Teri Rafferty

Daniel Louis Rafferty,
August 1, 1990 – May 14, 2014

I have built a shrine of sorts.

It’s not because he was perfect, I remember all of the faults and why we are here instead of somewhere else. It’s because the thought of forgetting him, as my memories of him slip away, is unbearable.

You know, you think your story is unique until you hear others and realize we could almost tell each other’s stories with a few variations.

Daniel died of an accidental fentanyl overdose 27 days after getting out of jail, where he had … Read more...

Recovery school for Virginia makes it past first hurdle

Pictured: Taylor Rhodes, Kerry Rhodes, Del.Carrie Coyner, Anne Moss Rogers

Updates here: Passed unanimously through the education committee.

Kerry and Taylor Rhodes lost their son, Taylor to overdose and my husband and I lost our son Charles to suicide while he was going through withdrawal from a heroin addiction. We were at the General Assembly to speak on behalf of the bill HB 928.

Delegate Carrie Coyner is the Chief Patron for House Bill 928, which would establish the Region’s first Recovery High School Pilot serving Region 1 schools in Virginia at no extra cost to parents.

Region

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What is ‘gray area’ drinking?

by Kari Schwear

As a former gray area drinker, I found myself living a double life appearing to have it all together, but wrestling with my wine addiction in secrecy. In this story, I explain how I ended up in that place. 

The Beginning

When I was just seven years old, I asked–“Is this all there is to life?” I wondered if life was really so lonely and empty–a profound thought for a 7-year-old.

As time went on, I never seemed to feel any excitement for life. Some special moments stood out, but for the most part, I dreaded school … Read more...

How to Talk to Kids about Depression, Substance Abuse and Suicide

Listen to this podcast here.

This podcast focuses on how to talk to kids about depression, substance misuse, and suicide from my perspective as a mother whose child died by suicide in 2015. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 and 34-year-olds, only behind the unintentional injury, in the United States. Much of suicide has a correlation with depression and substance misuse—and while there is an epidemic of teen depression and suicide, only 45% of teen girls and 33% of teen boys who have experienced an episode of depression got treatment in 2019. It’s time to start … Read more...

No words to describe the grief

by Kerri Jenkins Rhodes

William “Taylor” Rhodes

There really are no words to describe the pain of losing a child.

To wake up each day and find a way to get through it, to find a purpose for the pain, a way to give all the love you want to give to your loved one and to others that need it.

To find a way to make a life for yourself with a huge part of your heart missing.

Unfortunately too many of us are in this awful club. We will all survive this because one day we will meet … Read more...

The hot potato topic

What I speak about is often acknowledged as important.

Heads nod, emails are answered and then the, “I think that is Sara’s or Kenny’s area.” Let me introduce you to these five people. And my message just gets drowned out in a sea of emails of “we’ll get back to you later.”

Do I get back? Sure I do. But what I get in response is, “Did you ever talk to Kenny or Sara?” No, they wouldn’t call me back.

Suicide, mental illness, grief and addiction are topics people want to pass to someone else to take care of. Not … Read more...

Rams in Recovery needs your help

by Michelle Omowaiye
Rams in Recovery, started by my friend Tom Bannard, is a collegiate group of students in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) located at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Just recently, Governor Ralph Northam announced that $675,000 in federal grant money will go towards expanding collegiate recovery programs at eight universities in Virginia.

Rams in Recovery offers space for recovery meetings, organize events and trips, offer recovery housing and scholarships and this group is doing a service project with the goal of creating care bags for the men at The Healing Place.

The … Read more...

What to look for in a mental health speaker

Given the sensitivity around topics such as addiction, mental illness, and suicide, meeting professionals should strive to hire mental health speakers who pay attention to safe messaging. So here are some thoughts on how meeting professionals and event planners can find the right behavioral health speaker.  

Mental health speakers should avoid graphic descriptions

While you want your speaker to deliver a thoughtful and educational presentation, avoid hiring or inviting mental health speakers who go into graphic detail about suicide method or cleanup which could potentially be triggering, especially for young students and more vulnerable … Read more...

My mom lost her battle with addiction and my world fell apart

by Miranda Booher

Every single day in the United States, 130 lives are lost to opioid overdoses. Children will never see their mommy or daddy again and go into foster care, parents will bury their adult children. Families will pick up the pieces. Partners will left behind to face the brutal realities of this world alone.

The dark day my mom overdosed on morphine

I was 12 years old when my mom started taking pain pills for her chronic back pain that was caused by an extra vertebra in her spine. It didn’t take long for her medication to become … Read more...