“Remember those who lost their lives to the war on drugs.” the banner’s message read. The hands of a mother who lost her child holding it up. In this ongoing war on drugs, far too many mothers have lost their children. Children of all ages, taken before their time. These moms who decided doing nothing was not an option recently came to Lafayette Square across from the White House to make the war’s causalities known, NPR reports.
They call themselves Moms United to End the War on Drugs and their message is simple: “The war on drugs is a war waged on families—our own families. We call for a focus on saving lives and ending mass incarceration.” It’s goals: Long-terms support for recovering addicts and ending the stigma associated with drug use and addiction.
And while the message is strong, they are working toward a stronger presence. While Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a formal organization, Moms United is not. It’s instead comprised of several different smaller nonprofit organizations and individuals who have come together via 26 states, as well as around the globe. One organization behind it is PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing).
These mothers have come from all walks of life and yet one thing binds them together: Loving an addict. Even despite a mother’s love, understanding addiction doesn’t come naturally. That, too, is part of their message, as 62-year-old Denise Cullen from Orange County, Calif., says. She tells NPR her “son died because of the stigma associated with drug abuse. When her son, Jeff, tried to go on methadone to treat his heroin addiction, she wasn’t supportive. She thought it was for people who had bad families. ‘He could be alive right now if he was on methadone or Suboxone [drugs used to treat opiate addiction]. My kid had what he called the fairy tale life, so it was like, why is he doing this?’ Cullen says. ‘When I learned how wrong I was, it is really hard for me to know that he could be here and he’s not.’”
Another part of their message is for more access to treatment options like methadone or nalozone, which are used to treat overdoses. And their work is not in vain, as “President Obama recently increased funding for access to naloxone, and recently the Senate introduced a bill targeting addiction treatment and recovery,” NPR reports. Their efforts in Florida and California have worked as well, with naloxone access laws and 911 Good Samaritan laws passing in both states.
But there are still miles for the group to go. Unlike Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Moms United doesn’t have millions of dollars behind it. It’s name recognition, membership numbers and lobbying power are not as impactful yet. Yet being the key word in that sentence. As this epidemic plaguing the U.S. continues to target children, mothers will stand up and protect their own.
To find out more about the group or to get involved simply click here.
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