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Family Focus: The Polewski Family

Posted by Informed Families on January 23, 2019 at 11:08 AM

“A lot of people look at addicted individuals as people who lie, steal and hurt others,” said Katie Polewski. “This was not the case with my son. He always told me the truth. I knew he was struggling when he avoided me because he couldn’t lie.”

While he started his journey of drug use with marijuana, on the night that he died, Katie’s son Derrek was using heroin. He was ready to get sober and was attempting to wean himself off the drug to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Even though he used a tiny dose that night, the heroin contained fentanyl, which is significantly more potent and often deadly.

Katie Polewski lost her son Derrek on January 16, 2016 after a long battle with addiction.

“I believe that whether or not a child starts using drugs has a lot to do with friends they make, choices they make and not being aware of the dangers,” said Polewski. “I can’t express how important it is for awareness and prevention. All three of my kids were different. They had completely different personalities and they were all raised the same…with unconditional love.”

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Topics: drug use, drug prevention, opioids, parents

Family Focus: The Strunck Family

Posted by Informed Families on November 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM

Written by: Nikki Strunck, mother

The sixth overdose was fatal. My only child Brendan died at the age of 24.

He and some friends started messing around with pot when he was 13. By the age of 14, he got oxycodone pills from a friend, and by 16, he was addicted to heroin.

I grieved for my son for years before he died. As difficult as talking about this is, if I can help one person not die, this is worth it.

I think when Brendan was small, I thought he would try drinking and smoking pot. I was not prepared for opioid abuse.

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Topics: drug use, drug prevention, opioids, parents

Family Focus: The Mendell Family

Posted by Informed Families on October 27, 2018 at 5:02 PM

Brian Mendell was a child who loved the outdoors and had an infectious smile.  In elementary school, Brian started to experience difficulties and was diagnosed with ADD. He was also later diagnosed with anxiety, depression and traits of Asperger's.  

Brian started smoking marijuana at the age of 13 with some of his friends. He, unlike some of his friends, became addicted to marijuana and ultimately became addicted to opioids. He went through numerous treatment programs, struggled immensely, relapsed frequently and ultimately took his own life after a long battle with addiction in the fall of 2011.  

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Topics: suicide, drug use, drug prevention, opioids

Last Year Was The Worst Year In US History For Drug Overdoses

Posted by Informed Families on August 26, 2018 at 5:31 PM

prescription-drug-USDrug overdose was responsible for the loss of nearly 72,000 Americans in 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. That’s just under 200 people each day for the entire year - and 8,000 more deaths than the previous year, also a record year. At least 2/3 of those deaths were due to opioid abuse. Here are two trends that are contributing to this awful epidemic.

From Pills To Heroin

Patients receiving prescription drugs for pain as a result of an injury or recovering from surgery are often given significantly more than they need. While opioids are effective in managing pain, their addictive properties make them dangerous for long-term use.

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Topics: drug abuse, prescription drugs, prescription drug abuse, opioids, lock your meds

President's Message - July 2018

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on July 25, 2018 at 11:16 AM

OPIOIDS. OPIOIDS. OPIOIDS. 

Do I have your attention? I’ve noticed that when I use the term “drug prevention,” people sometimes tune out…but when they hear “Opioids,” they appear to perk up. Opioids, they understand.

Many people, sadly, aren’t entirely sold on the importance or relevance of drug prevention to their daily lives. “Not my child. Not my family.” Even Ginger Katz, a mom who lost her son to a drug overdose and who we feature on our blog this month, shared the same feeling before it happened to her. Ginger’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, but if we don’t show stories like Ginger’s, the public is going to continue to sweep the problem under the rug. And as Ginger so aptly said when we interviewed her, “we shove it under the rug until our heads hit the ceiling.”

We understand that drug prevention isn’t a “sexy” hot topic. On top of that, we are all needing a brain vacation and many of us only have enough time and energy to deal with what’s in front of us.

I am coining 2 new mental conditions:

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Topics: President's Message, children, mental health, drug prevention, opioids

Family Focus: Ginger Katz of the Courage To Speak Foundation

Posted by Informed Families on July 11, 2018 at 11:57 AM

When Ginger Katz’s 20-year-old son Ian died of a drug overdose, the doctors suggested she tell people that he died of a heart attack or brain aneurysm. Katz said that the night before the funeral, she couldn’t sleep, feeling “physically, spiritually and intellectually” unable to attend the next day’s events.

“I felt that [for me to attend the funeral] they’d have to carry me,” said Katz. “Then, I’m not sure where it came from but at some point that night, I visualized speaking out. I was not one for public speaking but I woke my husband up and told him that I wanted to speak out. I said, ‘if this is happening to us, it’s happening to other families and no one is talking about it.’”

Twenty-two years later, Ginger and her husband Larry Katz are still talking about their experience through the non-profit organization they ultimately founded: the Courage to Speak Foundation. They make presentations to children, parents, educators, clergy, professionals and others in 40 states. Knowing that their story alone could only take families so far, Ginger and Larry worked with a team of experts to develop curriculum evaluated and recommended by the Yale School of Medicine. Their elementary, middle and high school curriculum is implemented across the country. Additionally, they offer a multi-session program for parents called Courage to Speak -Courageous Parenting 101®.

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Topics: parents, overdose, drug prevention, opioids

Opioids In Florida: The Latest Stats

Posted by Informed Families on January 3, 2018 at 12:30 PM

How Large Is The Opioid Problem In Florida?

With the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation, Florida is certainly not immune. And apparently, the problem is getting worse. According to a recent report from Florida's medical examiners, there has been a dramatic 22% increase (2,126 more deaths) of in drug-related deaths from the prior year. The report also showed a 35% increase in opioid-related deaths (1,483 over the previous year for a total of 5,725).

Not suprisingly, more deaths were caused by prescription drugs than illicit drugs, accounting for 61% of all drug occurrences in the report. After all, availability and a low perception of harm lead to increased use and abuse.

The drugs that caused the most deaths were cocaine, benzodiazepines, fentanyl, morphine, heroin, alcohol, oxycodone, methadone and methamphetamine.

“Clearly, those are shocking numbers and we have got to do something about it,” said Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Dana Young, R-Tampa to The News Service of Florida.

Here are additional highlights from the report: 

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Topics: drug prevention, drug abuse, opioids, prescription, prescription drug abuse, prescription drugs, lock your meds

It's Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31)

Posted by Informed Families on October 23, 2017 at 1:13 PM

Red Ribbon Week is here! Join us in showing support for a drug-free America.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Red Ribbon Campaign is the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation? You also may not know that National Red Ribbon Week® (October 23-31) is organized out of Informed Families' offices in Florida. Our President & CEO Peggy Sapp is also the volunteer President of the National Family Partnership, the national sponsor of Red Ribbon Week.

Red Ribbon is intended to be fun AND effective. Here are 5 ways to celebrate:

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Topics: opioids, red ribbon, red ribbon photo contest, red ribbon theme, red ribbon week

Red Ribbon Week Is Almost Here. Here's What You Can Do...

Posted by Informed Families on September 8, 2017 at 3:24 PM

Your Future Is Key, So Stay Drug Free™ is the 2017 National Red Ribbon Week theme and the message being delivered to millions of students and families across America October 23-31.

Given the current opioid epidemic facing our country, Red Ribbon Week is more important than ever. It is an opportunity to spread awareness and educate children and families about the consequences of drug use and the importance of a drug free lifestyle.

Join us in spreading this important message:

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Topics: opioids, red ribbon, red ribbon photo contest, red ribbon theme, red ribbon week

Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use & Health

Posted by Informed Families on September 8, 2017 at 11:33 AM

Kids these days...

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Topics: drug trends, marijuana, opioids

About Us

We teach people how to say no to drugs and how to make healthy choices. To reduce the demand for drugs, Informed Families has focused its efforts on educating and mobilizing the community, parents and young people in order to change attitudes. In this way we counteract the pressures in society that condone and promote drug and alcohol use and abuse. The organization educates thousands of families annually about how to stay drug and alcohol free through networking and a variety of programs and services .

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