There is a belief that those of us with an opioid addiction, that we are powerless over our addiction. That is a myth. We are not powerless. But we appear powerless because the prohibition laws of this country rob us of our power.
A son’s death and a mother’s love. This is the story of Josh Olt who overdosed on heroin and died at the age of 16. This is the story of the mother he left behind. It is not a story of “moving on,” or “getting over it.” For those of you who have lost someone you love to overdose, you know those things don’t happen. This is, instead, a story of disenfranchised grief, of self-blame, of what-ifs, of should-haves, and how to find a way to let go of that guilt.
Dr. Sam Snodgrass, who lived an active opioid addiction for 22 years, holds a Doctorate in Biopsychology, a NIDA Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Behavioral Pharmacology, and is a past Faculty member of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You are invited to a discussion on one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today–the drug overdose crisis.
Please join The Drug Policy Alliance, and Broken-No-More, for Coercive Treatment – Moving Beyond “For Your Own Good,” a conference and workshop series that will unpack the history and harms of coercion in drug treatment and mental health settings and explore patient- and rights-centered alternatives.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Denise Cullen 714-865-7879 firstname.lastname@example.org
A change in leadership at Broken No More/GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing). Introducing Dr. Tamara Olt, the new Executive Director.
Denise Cullen, LCSW, is stepping down as Executive Director of Broken No More/GRASP. Dr. Tamara Olt will serve as the new Executive Director.
Denise Cullen, LCSW, after a 10-year tenure as Executive Director has decided that it is time for new leadership at Broken No More/GRASP: “While serving as Executive Director has been an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience, there comes a time, as difficult as it is, to step down and allow new leadership to continue the work of our organization and to move it into the future. This time has come for Broken No More/GRASP. There could be no better person than Dr. Tamara Olt to serve as our new Executive Director. Dr. Olt is committed to the principles and goals of our organization and has the experience, the vision, and the leadership skills to build on the achievements of Broken No More/GRASP and to guide the organization into the future. It is, thus, with great honor that I pass the leadership of Broken No More/GRASP to Dr. Olt,” said Ms. Cullen. While stepping down as Executive Director, Ms. Cullen will remain an active member of the Board of Directors of Broken No More/GRASP.
Dr. Tamara Olt is a board-certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist who has been in private practice in Peoria, Illinois for the past 22 years. On April 29th, 2012 she lost her youngest child Joshua to an accidental heroin overdose. Joshua is forever 16.
Shortly after Josh’s death, Dr. Olt reached out to Denise Cullen in search of grief support after her sudden and devastating loss. She established a GRASP chapter in Peoria that year. Wanting to do more to help stem the rising number of overdose deaths, she and her husband, Blake, established the Jolt Foundation. She traveled to Chicago and met with Dan Bigg of the Chicago Recovery Alliance and with his assistance began a naloxone distribution program. Using a lay-trainer model of distribution, thousands of naloxone kits have been distributed throughout Central Illinois. She also assisted, trained, and is the prescribing physician for multiple law enforcement entities who now carry naloxone.
Being mentored by Denise Cullen, Dan Bigg, and many other harm reductionists, Dr. Olt realized that more had to be done. This led to her decision to establish a syringe access program in Peoria. This program would provide naloxone, new syringes, and a comprehensive harm reduction program for people who use drugs. After 2 years of struggle and many sleepless nights, Jolt Harm Reduction, Peoria’s first syringe access program, opened in April 2018.
Dr. Olt has been involved with Broken No More/GRASP for the past seven years. Her involvement progressed from chapter facilitator to an administrator on the GRASP and Broken no More Facebook pages to serving on the Board of Directors. For the past year, Dr Olt has served as Chairperson of Broken No More/GRASP. It was a unanimous decision by the Board of Directors to elect Dr. Olt to the position of Executive Director of Broken No More/GRASP. Dr. Olt is a vocal advocate for drug policy reform and believes that we must stand up, demand better, and never stop fighting for the rights of those who use drugs. She is dedicated to the principles and programs of Harm Reduction and to the elimination of the policies of prohibition and the War on Drugs which have caused so much harm. Broken No More/GRASP could have asked for no better person than Dr. Olt to lead this organization into the future.
About Broken No More/GRASP
In 2009, Broken No More was founded by Denise and Gary Cullen. Broken No More advocates for policies that eliminate the criminalization of those who use drugs, promotes the eradication of the stigma associated with drug use and advocates for effective science-based treatments based on harm reduction principles. We support the decriminalization of drug use based on the understanding that most of the harms from this use comes not from the drugs themselves, but from prohibition.
GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) was established in 2002. In 2010 the GRASP leadership was assumed by Denise and Gary Cullen. Grasp has grown from 3 support groups to 120 face-to-face peer-led support groups across the United States and Canada. The GRASP Facebook page has over 9000 members who can find support, compassion and understanding at any time.
GRASP/Broken No More provides the means for people who have lost a loved one to take the pain of loss and to channel it into positive action: to change prohibitionist policies to those of public health and Harm Reduction. They do so to honor the memory of their loved one and in the belief that eliminating these drug war policies will spare other families the pain our members have suffered.
The Board of Directors would like to express our gratitude to the Drug Policy Alliance and the Harm Reduction Coalition. From the beginning, their support and guidance has been instrumental in the development, growth, and achievements of Broken No More/GRASP.
Dr. Sam Snodgrass, member of the Board of Directors of Broken No More, is a guest on YPR News Station.
Sam Snodgrass, PhD, BNM Board Member, to Speak at NHPCO’s Conference
NHPCO’s Interdisciplinary Conference
Preconference Dates: November 3-4, 2018;
Main Conference Dates: November 5-7, 2018
Hyatt Regency New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
NHPCO’s 2018 Interdisciplinary Conference will offer extensive and intensive intermediate and advanced educational sessions that will address these specific topic areas:
- Community-Based Palliative Care
- Interdisciplinary Team Leadership
- Medical Care
- Quality & Regulatory
- Strategic Innovation
- Supportive Care (psychosocial, spiritual and bereavement)
Sam Snodgrass, PhD, and GRASP Board Member, will be speaking on the issue of Opiod-related Deaths: Hospice Bereavement Programs Respond.
More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016,*a 28% increase over 2015. In the US, life expectancy at birth declined for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled in part by the rise in deaths from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our nation’s communities are working tirelessly to respond to the opioid epidemic, while each day more family members join the ranks of the bereaved.
>> Please click here for complete details on the conference. Or visit: https://www.nhpco.org.
Words matter. They determine how we understand and perceive our world. They carry power, for good and for ill. Stigma is driven by the pejorative words, the labels, that are used to describe us. This is not a matter of political correctness. Until we are seen as people, until we are provided the same respect and dignity as everyone else, we will continue to die. We have to change the cultural perception of those with an opioid disorder. To do that we have to first change the language of opioid addiction:
Harris Lee Wittels died on February 19, 2015 of a heroin overdose alone in his Los Angeles home. He was 30 years young.
He was my son. He was the world’s comedian. My son grew up in an affluent, white suburban neighborhood. He was a “nice Jewish boy.” His dad is a physician and I am a retired teacher. My son would never, ever take that drug called heroin! These kinds of kids don’t do such a thing! I am sharing this story because I want other families to hopefully know what we did not know.