Shatterproof Boston 5k Rise Up Against Addiction

Today I was able to participate in the Shatterproof 5k in Boston to rise up against addiction. The event was special in every single way. I began volunteering with Shatterproof as an ambassador a month after my dad passed away. I wanted to find a nonprofit that I could learn from, meet others who have gone through what I have, and most importantly that I believed in their cause. Shatterproof name says it all, it’s tagline even more. Stronger than addiction. Although my dad passed from the disease, he was stronger than addiction. After 9 months of volunteering with the wonderful Erin Barfield, Community Engagement Manager, I was at the big event with the love of my life beside me.

The Event

We arrived at 8am. It was a true fall day, the air was crisp but the sky was blue. The fog was beginning to break and there were about 50 people in the open fields next to the Franklin Park Zoo. Most people had on an orange t-shirt that said “Shatterproof Volunteer”. As we got our t-shirts and race bibs, more and more people began flowing in. A lot of people had custom shirts made with their loved ones names on it. Shirts had sayings on them too like, “Above the Stigma,” and “Recovery,” and one that I loved, “Boston Medical Center vs. Addiction.”

We were all their for someone and everyone had a smile on their face and a look of compassion for one another. We wanted to hear others stories just as much as we wanted to share ours. The beautiful thing is that everyone did so without guilt, embarrassment or judgement. Shatterproof created a community of people who were compassionate, caring, and supportive.

As the sun began to break behind the fog music began playing. At first it was upbeat and energizing music. People across the field broke out in dance, especially the little kids. I noticed a beautiful long red haired woman radiating with a big white smile dancing who looked oddly familiar to a fellow ambassador, but I knew it wasn’t her. I thought, “maybe they’re related.”

As the event was a half an hour away from race time a familiar but slower song began to play.

When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you

I was choked up with a knot in my throat as the words made so much sense to why all of us were here and what this race meant to us. A woman behind me crying made it harder not to cry. I then noticed we weren’t the only two who were moved by the song.

The Speakers

Then came the incredible speeches by Darshak Sanghavi (@darshaksanghavi), Michael Botticelli (@MBotticelliBMC), Brendan Little (@blittle86), Dr. Mallika Marshall (@MallikaMarshall) and many more.

The CEO and founder of Shatterproof, Gary Mendell (LinkedIn), spoke about his son.  It was familiar the way he described the last visit his son had at his house. He told his dad he wanted to be better and he was really trying but that it was really hard. All he wanted to do was make his dad proud. “Even more tragic it wasn’t just addiction that took my sons life, it was the feeling of shame he felt everyday when he opened his eyes.”

Gary Mendell felt his sons pain the same way I felt my dads pain. In my dads last phone call you can hear the pain and shame in his voice. He told me, he wish he hadn’t been a failure to me. What I wanted my dad to know and what I want everyone who is struggling to know is that he is not a failure because he had a disease. You are not a failure because of the disease you have and we all want you to not only hear that but feel it in your hearts. That day with all 1,800 people standing in front of the Shatterproof stage, we could all feel it. I wish my dad could’ve been there to see how far we’ve come. I wish Gary Mendell’s son could be there too, and all the other children, parents, grandparents, and friends who lost a love one to addiction.

Brendan Little shared his incredible story as well. At the age of 11 he struggled with addiction and by the time he was 15, he was in a recovery program. Now Brendan is Policy Director at Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services. He spoke on Mayor @marty_walsh‘s and told the story of when they were trying to get permits for addiction services in a Greater Boston town. The staff member said something along the lines of “We don’t want those people in this part of town.”  To which he responded, “Those people you’re talking about are me and mayor Walsh, so you might want to reconsider.” As hurtful as that statement could be, that comeback was a grand slam out the park.

Michael Botticelli gave a compelling speech on addiction and health care, a topic that was brought to my attention as a big issue in the last two years of my dads life. You can read more about my experience with my dad on health care policies for addiction here. Botticelli gave me hope with his passion and desire for change as well as his examples of walking the walk.



Remember that girl I saw dancing and having a great time that I thought looked like my fellow ambassador? Dr. Mallika Marshall began introducing a woman, a Shatterproof Ambassador, that had struggled with addiction and now is sober. When I looked to my right there she was. I met her the first time at a tabling event at the International Overdose Awareness event hosted by Heroin is Killing my Town. I didn’t know she had struggled herself with addiction.

As she spoke about her story, she shared how lonely and scary it was to struggle and how in order to forget the pain and embarrassment it fueled the addiction more. Then she said  bravely she knew if she didn’t stop, she would die and she was ready for help. She looked up towards the crowd of 1800 people and then down towards the front, she said “I was so relieved that I had my friends and family there.” She was looking at the woman that I saw dancing earlier. I noticed she was with others too, both older and younger. Her family looked at her so proudly and suddenly I was overcome with emotions.

It was so beautiful to see her speak proudly about her sobriety. She ended her speech with a message to those who were struggling. “Look around you,” she said. “Addiction is so lonely even when people are around. But today 1,800 people are here as a community. Together.” I once again felt so proud to be a Shatterproof ambassador and to have the privilege to meet her and hear her story.

It truly was a beautiful day. Thank you so much to the people that donated to Shatterproof. The donations are going to amazing work being done for the opioid epidemic. Rynnie Cotter, Misti Cain, Hayden Voss, Richard Knox, Ryan Hana, Alex Ciullo, Eric Leone, Ryan Cook, and Nick. Thank you.

Join My Shatterproof Team Next Year, 2019.

Next year I want to get a big team together and make it bigger and better than this year. If you’d like to join my team, Rising Hope, in honor of your loved one email me at It’s a walk/run so even if you’re not a runner you can participate. I’d love for you to be apart of this wonderful event with me. If you’re reading from out of state, there are races all over the nation. Find out more here.





Facebook cracks down on Opioids Sold on its Platform

TechCrunch has released an article, “Facebook cracks down on Opioid dealers after years of neglect.” Recent information from the Center for Disease Control, Facebook plays a role in the opioid crisis.  Xanax, OxyContin and other painkillers are often bought online, with dealers promoting themselves on social media including Facebook.




  • Drug dealers were using Facebook (and IG) pages, FB marketplace, and hashtags to sell drugs.
  • Once the CDC released statistics about the number of opioid overdose deaths in 2017, Facebook took action.
  • You can no longer hashtag drugs like heroin or fentanyl thanks to Eileen Carey.
  • If you search to buy drugs you’ll be taken to resources for recovery on the SAMHSA site.
  • It is believed that Facebook contributed to 72,000 deaths last year. That’s about 20% of all opioid deaths last year.


  • DISCUSSION: Do you think with Facebook’s new policies there will be a big impact on the opioid epidemic? Why or why not?
  • DISCUSSION: Is Facebook the problem? Why or why not?
  • DISCUSSION: Do you have any examples of times where you saw something on Facebook that you wanted to report but it didn’t have a policy?
  • DISCUSSION: How do you envision Facebook having the biggest impact on the epidemic?
  • DISCUSSION: Would you consider Facebook to be neglectful? Why or why not?

Statistics on Opioid Overdose Deaths from CDC

Estimated 30,000 synthetic opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017

There were roughly 20,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2016.


Once the statistics were released, Facebook removed groups, pages, hashtags and marketplace ads that were illuding to selling drugs.

 facebook opioids sold

facebook fentanyl sold page

People are changing their name to appear in the search for fentanyl.



If you try to search to buy drugs on Facebook, it’ll now bring you to resources for addiction. I tested this out and here’s what happens.



Eileen Carey

eileen carey.jpg
PC: diversitybestpractices



Eileen Carey is the hero here as she is the woman that got the policy on opioid sales to change on Instagram in April 2018.

She used Social Media and got the attention of  Facebook VP Guy Rosen.

Read the full article HERE






Mark Zuckerberg

In April 2018, Mark Zuckerberg sat down with caregivers of the opioid crisis and was shocked to hear the news that so many families are struggling with this epidemic.





He was under hot water when Representative David B. McKinley of West Virginia put the pressure on him to make a change.

“With all due respect, Facebook is actually enabling an illegal activity, and in so doing, you are hurting people. Would you agree with that statement?”





This is a great change, and it’s so easy to reflect and say, of course, you shouldn’t be able to create a hashtag promoting the use or selling of illegal drugs. However, I see a problem more about how desperate people are to sell and get drugs in any way possible.

Personally, I am apart of a lot of addiction groups that don’t encourage drug use or sell drugs but offer a safe community for people struggling with addiction to share their experiences and struggles. It’s heart-wrenching to see parents posting photos of drugs and asking the community in desperation if it’s what they think it is. Together the community comforts one another and sends words of encouragement.

With all good things come the bad as well. I don’t think it’s ethically right to blame a social networking problem on being the causation of hurting people. This TechCrunch article seemed to have a tone of blame, which is a dangerous mindset to have when talking about addiction. I would argue that the issue was not neglected for a long time. Hashtags of #heroin or posts about selling drugs are something that unless you’re searching for it or see it close to home, it isn’t top of mind. This isn’t just the case for Facebook, this translates into everyday life. The opioid epidemic effects so many families and we really need to be compassionate to those struggling but also patient with those who don’t understand it.

Another critique of TechCrunch’s article was the number 72,000. Where did the statistic that 72,000 of the opioid overdoses have a correlation with Facebook. If there is an article or a statistical graph that shows what source the overdose came from, I’d be very interested to see it!

Read the full article HERE

Facebook was reactive and not proactive with the removal of drug content and that’s a part of having a product/ecosystem bigger than yourself. The outcome we all agree on is helping those who are struggling and reducing the number of those affected in the future.

What if we saw the solution to ban the selling of drugs and buying them on social networks an issue of out of sight out of mind? Imagine if instead of disabling the ability to search or sell drugs online, we take action on those who participate in the activity. What if the DEA catfished the sellers?

What are some different viewpoints on the issue? Let me know!










7 Stages of Addiction Grieving: Opioid and heroin death grieving

How can we handle the death of a loved one that has passed away from opioid or heroin or any drug addiction?

The truth is it’s almost impossible because unfortunately, we’ve been watching our loved one die repeatedly probably for years.

The 7 stages of grieving give us clarity on emotions we feel when a loved one passes. When my dad passed away from addiction, I found that I experienced different emotions that I wasn’t sure I should feel guilty about. Below are the steps of grieving I have taken after watching my dad struggle with addiction throughout his life.

7 Stages of Grieving an Addiction Death

surprised (1)

Anxiety | Initially, all the built-up fear in anticipation for a fatal overdose or accident is now a reality. An anxiety that has built up for years will take over. 

The first feeling is anxiety. All the built-up fear in anticipation for something to go wrong hits you like a ton of bricks. This is it. This is the time you’ve really feared the most and now you’re facing your fear. Everyone reacts differently to anxiety. I screamed in my tears, I was trembling, bent over at the waste looking out the window trying to catch my breath. I paced my little apartment and after 10 minutes, I put myself in an uber to the hospital.

Tip: Turn on auto-pilot. 


Relief | It’s common to feel relieved in weeks following the loss of a loved one. You are no longer constantly worrying about your loved one’s safety.

It’s not uncommon to secondly feel relieved. You never know when the next time will be the last time and suddenly that anxious feeling escapes you and is filled with a new feeling of disbelief that this is over. Maybe you’re used to your loved one in and out of jail or on the streets, and your mind may convince you that this is like one of these times and it will take a few months, even years, to realize this isn’t the case.

Tip: Don’t feel guilty. Your body and mind need the rest. Don’t fight it.

sad (1)

Trauma | The last moments with your loved one’s body are extremely traumatizing. TV shows, movies, or seeing addiction in person can cause strong emotions. 

The third feeling is experiencing sudden realizations of what happened. If you were the one to find your loved one unconscious or if you saw them in the hospital trying to revive, you’ll be brought back to that place. It’ll feel like free falling. A pit in your stomach that you can’t explain and a dark place that you’ll need to be careful not to stay in. The last moments with your loved one’s body are extremely traumatizing because you want to believe so badly that they could’ve or should’ve been revived one last time.

Tip: Breath in and breath out slowly. Remember your loved one is no longer in pain and that’s most important. 

sad (2)

Regret/Guilt | Regretting the weeks leading up before the death is common. We question whether we did the right thing and if our final decisions caused the death. We take the blame. 

Along with the third feeling comes a form of regret. We put addiction aside and wish that we should’ve been there more and we envision if we had just been their things would’ve been different. We take self-blame and ownership of the addiction. Confidence in all the decisions we made throughout our loved one’s life is key. These feelings will come but you can control if they stay.

Tip: Remember, our loved ones never wanted us to take on their problems as our own.

note from dad before he passed away


Misunderstanding | We’ve mourned the loss of the soul before. Now we are connecting the loss of the soul with the loss of the physical person. It can be complicated to explain or experience.

Fifth is a feeling of others not understanding our grief. We’ve mourned the loss of the soul far before the passing of the body on and off and no one will ever understand that. Others may not understand that the soul was harder to grieve than the body and now the combination is nearly incomprehensible. We’ll feel that people just don’t get it and feel alone and a bit frustrated. When we say we miss our loved ones, we miss them in ever since of the word. While when our loved one was alive, we missed who their spirit made them. Now we’re experiencing the desire to have any form of our loved one back.

Tip: Talk with loved ones. Try to be vulnerable and open.

muted (1).png

Calmness | We’re not used to feeling calm. Our bodies had become used to chaos. Now we’re adjusting to more predictability in our lives.

Six is the feeling of loneliness and a calm we weren’t ready for. Loving someone who is struggling with addiction makes us hyper-aware of everything. Every phone call, every time you hear an ambulance, you’re not sure if it’s for your loved one. Every time you walk in the door, you don’t know what version of your loved one you’ll get. Suddenly, you have to get used to not having those worries, and that makes us feel calm but at the same time lonely. Our bodies aren’t used to the chaos that addiction brings, but over time we adapt to the constant worrying.  Our bodies begin to function in chaos.

Now, we suddenly don’t have to worry about the ambulance on its way to give Narcan to your loved one. Now you walk in the door and it’s more predictable of what you’ll see. At the same time, this creates an unsettling feeling of emptiness and your body and mind are searching for something to fill the void. For a while, you may be extremely high strung, emotional, and feel out of place in a normal setting.

Tip: Let out your chaotic energy with a hobby, exercise, or something that is transcendent.


Letting go | In time, letting go of pain and remembering the good memories and the spirit of our loved one is possible. 

Seven is the most wonderful feeling of them all. Letting go of your role as a constant worrier for your loved one. The feeling that your loved one is no longer in pain and that there is hope. Whether you’re religious or not, we all hope that our loved one is drug-free looking out for us. Now is the time to realize our strength and theirs throughout the years. Letting go of pain and remembering the good memories and the spirit of our loved one (without the all the memories of the disease clouding judgment) is relieving. We tell friends, family, and acquaintances stories about our loved one that show who they were as a person and not how the disease of addiction made them appear. It’s not easy to get to this step and it may take time. This is healing.

Tip: Keep a journal for when you remember memories.

The best thing to do is tell stories of your loved one often and keep their spirit alive. Cry when you need to. Get angry when you need to. Feel regret when you need to. But only as long as you remind yourself that you’re strong. You experienced pain that no one else can ever understand. It’s an excruciating pain to watch someones spirit leave and come back multiple times before actually dying. You made it through and that makes you one of the strongest people I know. If you’re alive, focusing on your health, and improving your life for yourself and others, you have no reason to have any regrets. We do all we can for our loved ones struggling with addiction, all in different ways.

Our loved ones want and need us to move on because the greatest feeling they feel is guilt. Wake up and tell your loved one out loud:

“You didn’t fail me. Your disease taught me strength. I go on today to make my life and other lives better because of you. You shaped me and I accept you for all that you were in my life. I will remember you always, NAME” 

7 stages of grief: addiction grieving

In memory of Steven Olbinsky, my best friend, my dad, my everything. March 23, 1964 – October 26th, 2017. As the years go by, there will be less time spent with you. Your spirit will continue to thrive because I’ll share the memory of you with others that never got the pleasure. Addiction is a disease that deserves more love and understanding. I believe that if you, dad, were able to love so deeply despite your disease, others can too. I have hope that together you and I will give a chance for healthy relationships, forgiveness, and love despite the disease of addiction. To learn more visit my website 

The Book I’m Writing on my Dad’s Addiction

While my dad sat in a cage to think about all the scary things that could happen upon his release and his fear of being deported, he wrote it all down and sent it to me.

He wrote the pain he felt every time he thought of how he would ever be able to find a job, how he hated himself for not seeing either of my graduations and how he hated addiction.

Then he’d write his dreams. To get out and conquer the world with me. How he wanted to just travel and laugh and be able to call me without being cut off after 5 minutes and paying $50 each time.

Sign up for the Book Release

Be the first to hear when my book will be released

Click here to get a sneak peek at My Book Release


ICE Kept my dad in prison longer than his sentence, and two years after his release I no longer get to conquer the world alongside him. BUT that doesn’t mean he isn’t watching. He’s making sure that my pain and love to brings awareness to a disease that took his life. This book of letters is the most precious thing I own. I bring it with me almost everywhere.

addiction book

It holds every piece of advice my dad gave me from the time I was a senior in high school until my first year out of college. I’m going to publish our story because it’s a beautiful thing to share my treasure with others. To know that I’ll have copies made so that these thoughts are never lost gives me hope for others that this will be a part of history. You can sign up for my book release here.

Family members affected by drug addiction

My dad passed away from addiction on October 26th, 2017.
Our relationship was so rare. He relapsed when I was 13. I’d write in a journal- about suicide, self-blame, confusion, and anger.
I shared it with my dad when he was sober and we cried together and from that day I found out the impact that writing has and I have since that day made it my mission to continue to write.
He went to prison for 5 years and died 2 years after he was released. I recorded most of our phone conversations if I was on the computer because I couldn’t explain to people how unfair it was and how desperate for help he was. And I wasn’t sure if it’d be the last call I’d have with him…
The last call I had with him I knew it’d be one of the last because he told me. He told me,
“I don’t want to do drugs anymore. It would be so nice to just close my eyes, and not be a disappointment anymore.”
Two nights ago I relistened to it. As painful as it was to listen to it reminds me of his struggle and how others are going through these same feelings he did. And that people like us- we are the SO incredibly strong for having to see people we love dead without actually dying.
I was robbed of time with my dad because of heroin, crack cocaine, and prescription pills but I also learned to love harder than ever and never take for granted the people around me that hear me. 
I’ve talked to a lot of people who beg to know why. Who just want an answer and a solution.
 I feel each of your pain so deeply and what it really confirms is our strength. Our emotional state is tested to the absolute limit. Yes, it’s horrible and unfair, but it’s also beautiful. It’s a beautiful disaster that we can feel so deeply.
Start a conversation about how deeply you love with hashtag #RisingHope on Instagram and learn more about Rising Hope here.

Opioid Addiction Statistics and Facts In 2017

Heroin overdoses outnumber the number of gun homicides. Addiction is a disease that has been devastating to families and loved ones across the US. In October 2017, I lost my dad, my best friend, my everything to the disease. Spreading awareness is as important as realizing none of us has the right answers. The following statistics raise huge issues that are debated frequently. The following information is not based on my opinion.

There was a lack of statistics for the year 2017, most likely because of the time it takes to gather the information, however, I tried my best to get the most recent and most accurate information.

If you have more information please share. In honour of my dad and the battles he faced and to those who will face similar challenges in the year 2018.

Summary of Opioid Facts

  • Approximately 20.1 million Americans are addicted to opioids. That’s equivalent to the population of Florida.
  • 66,324 people died of an overdose from January-May 2017
  • Delaware, Washington DC, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania saw the highest increases in opioid overdoses in 2017
  • There are upwards of 1.9 million nonfatal opioid overdoses in 2017
  • Narcan reversed the effects of opioids for 27,000 people in 2015. No total data for 2016 or 2017 were found.
  • There were 1.3 million hospital visits due to overdoses in 2014. No data for the following years were found
  • There are upwards of 1.9 million nonfatal opioid overdoses in 2017
  • Approximately 180 people die of opioid addiction every day.


The Statistics: Opioid Overdoses In 2017

As shown below the issue of opioid addiction is at it’s highest in the United States.

percentage of deaths classified as drug-related
Photo Credit: Josh Katz NYTimes

According to the CDC, the 12 Month-ending Provisional Counts of Drug Overdose Deaths, Percent Change Over Previous 12-month Period, and Data Quality Metric shows that 66,324 people died of an overdose in 2017 by May.

An important note at the bottom: “Deaths are classified by the reporting jurisdiction in which the death occurred.” This number could be unreliable due to the number of deaths that are not initially determined as an overdose.

Due to the lengthy process of investigating the cause of death for an overdose, deaths are ruled as “no cause of death”.

66,324 people is a tragedy nonetheless. That is almost the equivalent number of people Gilette Stadium can hold with 66,829 seats.

The data from the CDC has the percentage of change from 2016’s overdose deaths. Let’s break it down by the state who has seen reduced numbers of overdose deaths.

Important questions are answered here in this article by Josh Katz on short answers to hard questions about opioid addiction.

Top US States that Have Reduced Overdoses in 2017 from 2016:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

What’s interesting is most of these states, besides California, have under 500 overdoses. There are a few states that have a very steep increase in overdoses. Let’s take a look at those.

Top US States that Have had an Increase in Overdoses in 2017 from 2016: 

  • Delaware 44% increase
  • Washington DC 78% increase
  • Maryland 43% increase
  • New Jersey 31% increase
  • Ohio 41% increase
  • Pennsylvania 44% increase

Number of Nonfatal Overdoses in 2017

There is very limited information on the number of overdoses in 2017 that don’t result in death but an article published by NPR in August 2017 claims, “for every fatal overdose, there are believed to be roughly 30 nonfatal overdoses.”

If this is true this would mean the number of nonfatal overdoses is 1.9 million in 2017 roughly speaking. Just in Massachusetts alone “Nonfatal overdoses recorded by emergency medical services (EMS), hospitals, and bystander interventions increased [about] 200% between 2011 and 2015.

The total number of nonfatal overdoses between 2011 and 2015 exceeded 65,000.” which you can the full legislature report here. We can suspect that in the past two years that number has grown. We also have to assume that with how easily accessible Narcan is now in the community that this number may be even double.


What is Narcan?

Narcan is one form of Naloxone and the most recognized. There are three FDA-approved formulations of naloxone. One is Narcan, a nasal spray, one is an injectable, and one is Evsio an auto-injectable.

The injectable is least popular but all three have the same effect: They bring a human who has overdosed back to life. “81.6 percent of reported naloxone reversals involved heroin. Prescription opioids were involved in 14.1 percent of cases” ( If you’d like to learn more about how much Narcan to use, how Narcan works, and what happens when you use Narcan, visit NCADA for a full list of FAQ.

Dailymail posted a video of a woman coming back to life with Naloxone. If you can make it through the video, you’ll recognize her friends bring her back to life with an injectable. As she comes back to life her friend says, “You went out.”

Overdose narcan injection

Where is Narcan Available?

In 2015, Narcan saved approximately 27,000 lives. Naloxone is available without a prescription in 41 states. You can pick up Naloxone at a local CVS except for the states listed below.  Depending on your locations, you can sign up for training to learn how to use Naloxone. In Boston, The Boston Public Health Commision holds free In-house overdose prevention and naloxone training Monday afternoons and Tuesday evenings on specific days in 2018.

narcan availability naloxone
Photo Credit:

You can go through the opioid overdose interactive prevention, recognition and response for additional personal education.

Opioid Overdose Prevention, Recognition and Response


States you need a prescription for Naloxone:

  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Wyoming


Narcan Fentanyl

In April 2017, a strain of Fentanyl that was  Narcan-resistant hit Western Pennsylvania along with Georgia, Indiana, and more.  This strain is considered, “50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine,” according to

Hospital Protocol on Opioid-related Visits

The number of hospital visits due to opioid-related inpatient stays and emergency room visits is not provided for the year 2017. The latest data is from 2014 from the Homeland Security Department which states, 1.3 million patients needed hospital care due to opioids.

Good Samaritan Law for addiction

As stated by the NCSL, a Samaritan who calls 911 due to an overdose, will be provided immunity from arrest or prosecution. “To encourage people to seek out medical attention for an overdose or for follow-up care after naloxone has been administered, 40 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of a Good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity law.

These laws generally provide immunity from arrest, charge or prosecution for certain controlled substance possession and paraphernalia offenses when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention. State laws are also increasingly providing immunity from violations of pretrial, probation or parole conditions and violations of protection or restraining orders.”

The Lack of Follow Up in Hospitals is being acknowledged in Massachusetts and Other States

NPR article states we could be doing more for patients that come in with an opioid addiction. “Donohue says many hospital emergency departments are not adequately set up to serve or even screen patients with addiction. ‘They may not have strong connections to treatment providers. So they, at best, may leave patients with a list, but then there is no active follow-up,’ Donohue says. ‘People who are quite vulnerable and are at great risk for future overdoses are falling through the cracks.’

If a patient is revived and asks to leave the same day as their overdose they are allowed to check themselves out. “It’s safe to characterize it as a missed opportunity for the health system to respond.”

Massachusetts Governor Baker has recently passed legislation to help assist in the lack of medical follow up. “It requires hospitals to engage patients to connect them to voluntary treatment and requires doctors to record overdoses and evaluations in a patient’s electronic medical records.” Read more about Governor Bakers Opioid Plan here.

As you can read here from USA Today, families are seeking involuntary commitment laws to help the fight with addiction. There is still legislation that finds it difficult to move forward due to civil rights concerns. Others find that it is not a solution and won’t contribute to change in behaviour or relapse.

On the contrary, people believe, ” it’s a vital, last-resort option at a time when the opioid crisis is killing more than 90 Americans every day.”

Currently, if a family member you know is in the hospital due to drug overdose and you call to get your loved one help, you are advised to order a section 35.


2.4 million addicted people seek treatment through specialized rehab centers every year.

According to NPR, In Massachusetts, courts civilly committed more than 6,500 people to treatment last year. Massachusetts Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Fallon estimates that 40 percent of those civilly committed to the center will be court-ordered to treatment again but believes a correctional setting makes sense (

Here is a full list of every licenced substance abuse providers by city.

Recently Google has taken the initiative to disable the ability to advertise for rehabilitation companies as many were misleading. “Addiction recovery during the worst drug epidemic in American history is expected to generate $42 billion in business by 2020.”

“Insurers are required to cover substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act, and some stays can cost up to $60,000 a month, making every patient extremely lucrative. And the majority of addicts or their parents — 61 percent, according to Google’s internal statistics — use the internet to find help.”

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient rehabs

  • 28 days to six months
  • Intensive
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Family members can contact loved ones in residential treatment. Each facility is different for visitation rights
  • A typical day in residential treatment is carefully scheduled and accounted for

Outpatient rehabs

  • 10 to 12 hours a week – The average outpatient detox period lasts 6.5 days
  • Part-time programs
  • Recovering patient can go to work or school during the day
  • Sessions focus on drug abuse education, individual and group counseling, and teaching addicted people how to cope without their drug

Prison Sentences Due to Drug Addiction

Substance abuse is a large part of correctional facilities and the NCADD reported that crimes are typically found to have a correlation to drug use.

“Approximately 95% of inmates return to alcohol and drug use after release from prison, and 60 – 80% of drug abusers commit a new crime (typically a drug-driven crime) after release from prison” (NCADD).

  • 80% of offenders abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Nearly 50% of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted.
  • Approximately 60% of individuals arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illegal drugs at arrest.

Opioid Addiction in 2018

What can we expect in 2018? I am optimistic. I believe there are different ways to look at addiction. I look forward to sharing my dad’s letters he sent to me while in prison due to addiction. While I wrote this blog post with the purpose of sharing statistics, addicts are not just statistics, they’re not just people that have a disease. They’re the faces of our parents, our children- the people we love and the people who need our support. I created Rising Hope as an initiative to give a face to what some people have trouble understanding.

My dad is at peace now


Last Thursday my dad called me and said he was tired. He said he was ready to close his eyes and be with grandma. It wasn’t a desperate call for attention, I could tell he felt his body getting tired and he was letting me know that right then on the phone. He said he was tired of being an addict, tired of feeling the way he did, and tired of the guilt he felt. I wanted to take away all of his pain but he told me that he felt like the luckiest man in the world. He talked about Lou Gehrig and how he had ended his career and was in pain and said, “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

This is only a week after the most amazing concert of our lives, Bruno Mars. I didn’t think it’d be possible to get him to the concert with all the factors standing in my way but my dad has never asked me for anything and a few days before the concert he asked me to go with him. With the help and support of my loved ones, I was able to dance and sing and smile and laugh one last time with my daddy.

He was in so much pain. He was skinny as a rail, could barely stay awake, but the way his eyes lit up when we danced together really showed me that love is the most powerful thing in this world.

My dad and I have a love that’ll continue to keep me going because even now I hear my daddy saying I love you, helping me make right decisions, and encouraging me to be a good person to others. My dad believed whole-heartedly that giving to those who cannot give back is a true testament of a person’s character. I know people will continue to tell me that I gave my dad a purpose for living, but to be honest he has given me so much more than that and I’ll never be able to repay him. He gave me the things in life that are invaluable. I will carry with me his spirit, I’ll share all of his love, and I’ll live with his name on lips for the rest of my life. That is the best way that I can make up for what he has given me.

To my grandpa, mom, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, co-workers, acquaintances, and friends, I will love you so much. I will always be there for you just as my dad was always there for me. And I will give and give and give, and I know it’ll make my dad the proudest. Thank you for being here with me to celebrate the life of the man that’ll keep my fire burning. If you ever are wondering “how I do it,” it’s because Steven Olbinsky, my dad, wouldn’t have it any other way.

My Dad has Passed Away

Vyachelsaw “Steven” Olbinsky. On October 26th, 2017 my dad has passed away at age 53. My dad is my hero, my best friend, my everything. He is my reason for living. I will talk about him every single day. I still hear him and I feel him in my heart. I always have because that’s the love he gave to me.

Steven Olbinsky

I am too tired to write all my 1 billion thoughts now but please read his obituary  and if you would like, I am asking for donations for my dad’s funeral in lieu of flowers. All additional funds will be donated to overcoming addiction.

Tomorrow is the funeral. I hope everything goes well and my dad sends me strength.

My dad’s heart was weak but a week before he died, he called and told me he was tired. It wasn’t a cry for help, it was raw honesty. Addiction is a terrible disease but I promise that my dad stayed strong through it all. He is the greatest thing to ever happen in my life and I would never trade him for any other dad. Not for one second.

Our bond was the most beautiful thing in this world. Love is so powerful and I saw it at maximum force.


Love in a Time of Heroin — carolineshonesty

This story is written by a woman named Caroline about her relationship with her husband who she found out was addicted to pain killers and eventually heroin. It’s quite beautiful and portrays the truth about drug addicts. They’re good people. They are amazing dads, sons, daughters, mothers who are caught in a terrible disease and sometimes can’t escape. I’m not sure if Caroline will see this message but I’d thought I’d share.


This story is beautifully written and shows the truth about loving someone with addiction. As you said, “You can’t just simply walk away from the person you love the most.” and that is absolutely true. You can’t. Love is way stronger than an addiction and we as strong women see past the disease and know that deep down our loved ones are fighting the hardest battle of their lives. You know that Jacob would never want to put you or your son in jeopardy but heroin has a greater control over action than what’s right. Thank you for sharing this. I write about my relationship with my dad. I’m very lucky he hasn’t lost his life to addiction but everyday I think I’m going to get the phone call. He is my best friend and I would never ever disown him for the disease he has to bare. He is the most loving father and has taught me how to be a strong, independent and caring woman.

A lot of things you talked about are similar to my dad. My dad was working in the hospital and got caught with drugs. Soon enough I’d find spoons and needles. I was only 13. It was the most frightening feeling to think you were losing someone that was right in front of you.

Caroline, thank you. Thank you for writing this and for sending the right message- that heroin addicts are not junkies, they’re not bad people. They are amazing fathers, daughters, mothers, sons, with a really bad disease.


I submitted this essay to the New York Times column, “Modern Love” with the hope that I could reach a whole new audience with a very important message. Although they did not find the essay right for their needs, I still want to share it. I was positive I had met the man I would […]

via Love in a Time of Heroin — carolineshonesty

Growing Up with Heroin


I was told by someone that they wanted to understand what growing up around heroin was like for me and today I woke up with the greatest amount of anxiety I have felt in so long. During these moments of weakness I felt it’d be best to explain what I’m feeling. Please, if you haven’t dealt with addiction and come here to treat me as though I look for sympathy or to criticize me for being weak, you don’t know me at all and I want you to leave. This is something I’m writing to those who can relate to what I am feeling right now and not for you to judge.

I woke up with a feeling that was painfully unclear where it was coming from. I couldn’t tell if I felt it in my heart, in my bones, or in my entire body rushing through my veins and into my brain. It felt a bit like panic. I felt like I couldn’t keep my own head on my shoulders and I still am having that feeling now. I am shaking beyond the normal amount I shake and I have taken more deep breaths than I do during my nightly meditation. When I touch my skin it feels unreal. It feels like I’m dreaming a bit. I feel like I can’t hold a conversation. I feel like I can’t sleep but I can’t bare to stay awake. I feel like everything around me is gone and I’m alone yet everyone is looking at me.


I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that made me feel this way. I didn’t have a nightmare which I have very often. And things in my life are going fairly well.


Then I stepped into the crisp air of fall and I almost burst out into tears. I was brought back to more than ten years ago. The month of October was the month my dad had been released from prison the first time, the time when my grandma would only have 3 more weeks to live and I felt alone and scared. My dad was released and I felt I had my dad back. Sober, muscular and refreshed.

dads prison release
My dad and I the day he was released in 2006, three weeks before my grandma passed away.

It didn’t last long as a week after my dad was home, after he had tried making up for lost time and bought me a new wardrobe. I remember sitting at my computer that day when I picked up my phone and my mom told me that my grandma had died. I cried and with my eyes full of tears I was by myself thinking of how painful it was to hear the words that I had been scared of hearing for the past year and a half when I found out my grandma had cancer.

At my grandma’s funeral I remember the leaves were finally falling off of the trees. It was sunny but the air was crisp just like today. It stung more than the anxiety and depression. Is it just me, or is anxiety and depression a feeling of nothingness and everything at the same time. Two very conflicting feelings attacking each other inside of your soul and bringing a numbness to our mind?

My dad showed up to the funeral an hour late and in a distressed condition. My grandma, Anna, was his best friend in the entire world and he had missed out on 9 months of her last breaths in prison. I hadn’t seen my dad for the next two days and I could hardly swallow that he had relapsed and I would experience the frightening sight of burnt spoons in the bathroom and sporadic bursts of anger throughout the house. But when he finally came home in his Outback, it wasn’t the same.

This time my dad wouldn’t speak. He walked like a zombie into the house with his pants falling to his ankles. On my way to school as I walked past his car I glanced inside to see two needles in the trunk.

My first time seeing heroin.

I felt I had lost my dad again but this time he wasn’t paranoid and angry. Now he was soleless. He was gone and yet he stood right in front of me. I was no longer his daughter. I was just another human that couldn’t give his body what it needed.

It was the second time I had seen him transform into something that he wasn’t but it was the first time I felt that I had experienced wanting to not be alive. The unexplainable paranoia and anger when my dad was doing crack cocaine was scary but seeing my dad lifeless and zombie-like was like seeing someone’s life be sucked out of them. It’s like in the movies when they tell you, you shouldn’t bring back the dead because they’ll be a different person. My dad was someone I didn’t recognize and I had never felt so alone.


I guess when I first felt the crisp air this fall my mind took me back to this moment. I’m certain of it because I haven’t had this clear of a revision of this memory since. Just like 11 years ago,  I’ll get through this too.


So what’s it like for me to grow up around heroin? It’s the spark that reminds me that I can love harder, survive anything, accept everything, and still keep going. It’s the reminder that there is a feeling of real pain, that feeling so down you are numb is the most unique feeling that sometimes feels quite safe. It’s almost like the opposite of love. You’re filled with something that you can’t explain. It’s taught me that we’ll all feel or be alone at some points in our lives even if we have everyone around us. It’s okay to feel alone and sad and confused, as long as you make it through. It’s a reminder of how lucky I am to have a relationship so strong with my dad. It made me passionate and relentless. It made me kind and appreciative. It made me understand that life can be unfair but sometimes the most unfair things in life are what make life so beautiful.


I can’t say that I’m happy I am feeling this anxiety today but it’s a familiar feeling that brought me back to the weakest time in my life. I may have a cry but not because I am weak, because I am so proud of myself for making it through what seemed impossible to get through. I’m proud to have this familiar feeling come back and to know that nothing will ever defeat me. Not my own body, not another human, not my own weaknesses.

There was nothing bad about growing up around heroin because my dad is my best friend in the whole universe and I am the most appreciative person for it. Everyday my dad struggles with the disease I know that he is trying to fight to be in my life and that is the most beautiful thing anyone can live for.

If you grew up with heroin tell me if you agree:

  1. We love harder than anyone in the world.
  2. We don’t take things for granted.
  3. We know that life isn’t fair. We know anxiety and depression.
  4. We understand the concept of losing someone more than once.
  5. We push people away who make us feel that we aren’t independent.
  6. We believe in loyalty but know to what extent loyalty jeopardizes our safety.
  7. We know pain.
  8. We’ve seen things we didn’t want to see but makes us strong.
  9. We live deliberately. We stick up for what is right because we know the consequences of not.
  10. We are healers in some way or another.