The next time you’re watching the Pats play at Gillette Stadium (or any team at any pro stadium), pay attention to the aerial shots that show the stands filled to capacity. The arena can sit some 70,000 fans. A ton of folks, the population of a small city. That’s how many people died from a drug overdose last year. Multiply that by their devastated family members and you’ll probably fill about four more stadiums. That’s a lot of pain. And simply unacceptable.
The opioid epidemic isn’t expected to peak until 2020, and with more than 22 million people struggling with a substance use disorder in this country, the strain for both the addict and their loved ones is almost too much to bear. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that there are some 75 million family members in this country who, at this very moment, are living on a razor’s edge, not knowing the whereabouts of their child, sibling, or parent, or who they’re with, always bracing for the call or the knock on the door with a policeman on the other side. Guilt-ridden, ashamed, powerless, families can feel as stigmatized as their loved one does huddled in a public bathroom with a shoelace cinched around their arm just trying to not get sick.
As a former alcoholic and the parent of someone in early recovery, I’m doing what I can to raise awareness and money to push back against this horrific reality. Fatal overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 55. In April, I’ll be running the Boston Marathon for the Herren Project, an addiction recovery non-profit that helps addicts and their families find resources, treatment, and the hope they need and crave. I’d be grateful if you’d consider joining me in this effort with a share and/or a donation of any amount. One hundred percent of the money raised goes directly to recovery services, from treatment placement and sober home scholarships to recovery coaching and support groups. I know first-hand there is hope. There is light. But we have to do this together.
Let’s start emptying those stadiums.
Thanks for listening.