After attending the Candlelight Vigil in Medford, I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from their community. And it sort of got me thinking of what support and drug-free programs Danvers has invested in. I wondered about whether Danvers Police carried Narcan, and what education is offered to the school systems and their parents. So, I googled it. I love google. I mean, you can literally google “what do carrots look like when they germinate” and get a million answers. I googled myself recently, and guess what, I have a blog! Who knew. Anyway, I was directed, via google, to DanversCARES. I have lived in Danvers basically my whole life, other than a small stint living in an extremely rural town in South West Nebraska, and I had no idea about DanversCARES.
DanversCARES is not just about a drug-free community. It is a partnership that encourages, educates and offers programing for youth and families to help make healthy decisions in many areas of life. This includes education on tobacco use, physical education, abstinence from steroids, as well as drug awareness. They partner with 12 organizations including Essex Agricultural and Technical School, DEEP, Danvers Public School, Peabody Institute Library of Danvers, Lahey Behavioral Health, North Shore Medical Center and the Danvers Police Department, just to name a few. If you click the link below, you can learn more about their programs, their resources and catch up on their blog.
A recently blog post was called Defy the Opi-Odds. It spoke of a course for Teens last summer that focused on Opioids, Overdose Prevention among other things. Last summer, I was neck deep in relapsing with JoDee so I’m not super surprised I didn’t know about it, but I am surprised I hadn’t heard much about the organization as a whole. So, I did what I always do when I don’t know something, I set out to educate myself. There is a tab labeled “contact”. By clicking that tab I found out about Peg Sallade. She is the Program Director. Her contact info was readily available so I emailed her. I introduced myself as a life-long resident of Danvers with a daughter that is a heroin addict and would like to become more involved in the organization, as well as learn more about it. Peg and I met on a Friday morning, after many emails back and forth to find a time that fit both of our schedules.
One of the things I learned is that DanversCARES and Peg specifically have a tough job educating the community. The thing about drug addiction is it is not seen as a community problem. I mean, from the community that is. The people involved with DanversCARES understand that it affects everyone whether you have an addict in your family or not. Drug addiction is typically related to higher crime rates, increased sudden death and lower continued education statistics. If your child is 5 h/she will be in high school someday. And that beautiful, wonderful, smiling, innocent child may make one poor choice that leads to another and another until suddenly; you are where I am, and wondering why. I think often another huge hurdle is reaching those in the community that don’t have young children, any children, or whose children are adults without children. Community is just that community. If any particular malady ails a community that means directly or indirectly it affects everyone. The rate of addiction is rising rapidly. It is also rising predominately in the young age group; 18-25 are most likely to over dose, but that doesn’t mean it ONLY affects those age groups. There are many families with adults/adult children suffering from addiction. My family is a good example. JoDee is an addict but I have two younger children that could definitely benefit, and maybe be helpful providing inside information to others in their or similar situations.
Maybe part of the struggle with getting the community to open up about drug use in our own neighborhoods is due to embarrassment. I can understand that. I didn’t get to the point that I was publishing blogs on the internet about our family overnight. This was a process. It took a lot of Al- Anon meetings, N/A meetings and near death experiences with JoDee for me to be so open. I, too, was embarrassed at first. Not just for JoDee and what it meant to be an addict, but as a parent. I know even now that people judge me, but I have learned people will judge me if I drive a big car, a small car, wear glasses, cut my hair short, wear pants too tight or too lose. I had to have my own come-to-Jesus meetings to evolve into someone who understands addiction. And not just understanding it, but learning that concentrating on being embarrassed is taking time away from looking at the bigger picture; helping my addict find peace of mind to begin recovery. Just as we take pride in our homes, and our lawns and whether or not the taxes will increase because we build a new school or save a funeral home, should we invest time in the future of the children of our community.
If you want to know more about DanversCARES, reach out to Peg. If you have a child suffering from addiction and you want to be part of program that can help bridge the gap in the community, reach out to Peg. If you think that you can’t offer anything to this program, but you are invested in a better tomorrow for Danvers as a whole, reach out to Peg. Let her know what programs you would like to see, give her ideas on how to attract the masses. Is there a subject you think would be beneficial? Let her know. If reaching out to Peg seems daunting, you can reach out to me. I have offered to speak at forums; I will do whatever she needs to help put an end to drug use in Danvers.. I told her that I would lead by example. While parading my family’s personal problems through the town like the Little League Parade is not something I look forward too, I also know that for anyone to understand the struggles of addiction, they need to have something tangible to attach it too. I don’t want another mother to suffer like I have. I don’t want another mother to lose a child to addiction or for any child, at any age, to lose their life because of addiction. DanversCARES is taking steps to help educated the community so we can successfully pave a cleaner future for everyone. Will you help us?