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Super Bowl LI Commercials Tackle Teenage Drug Overdose

Super Bowl LI Commercials Tackle Teenage Drug Overdose

Author: Justin Mckibben

Every year as Super Bowl Sunday strikes the public is privy to a brand new batch of clever and powerful commercials. Some of us don’t even bother to watch the game, but we make sure to check in for those ads that are often unique and creative ways to grab their audience. This year the 2017 Super Bowl LI commercials ranged from political and controversial, to hysterical or inspirational. The depictions accompanying the game seem to have made varied impressions, but one topic stood out in a different way than others of its kind.

The Super Bowl LI commercials included PSAs that set out to target and tackle the details of drug overdose with teens. Two heart-breaking ads were presented by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) in which the narrative concentrated on the likelihood of overdoses with teenagers; specifically prescription drugs.

NCADA is a St. Louis-based charity which aims to prevent substance abuse and overdose. They do so by offering drug education programs in schools and working to increase awareness of addiction.

Super Bowl LI Commercials: “Safe”

The first PSA was entitled “Safe.” It begins with a father talking about his belief in the second amendment right to bear arms. He tells us about his family’s history with guns and respect for gun safety. They show images of a family hunting together, and a happy daughter with a rifle her father bought her. He emphasizes the fact the family always locks their guns in the safe.

Then, in a tragic turn, he tells the viewer about the overdose death of his 17 year old daughter. He shows the empty pill bottle and says the fire department found it in his daughters hand, followed in an incredibly heart-wrenching way saying-

“I didn’t lock it up.”

The closing credits to the ad include the hard statistic:

Teenagers are more likely to die from overdose than gun fire.

Lock up your prescription medication. Dispose of unused medication properly.

This gripping story only took one minute of halftime Super Bowl LI commercials, but it was a meaningful minute.

Super Bowl LI Commercials: “Smart Phone”

The second PSA of the Super Bowl LI commercials was titled “Smart Phone” and depicted a mother who describes her strict demands for her daughter not to text or use her smart phone and drive. The mother begins with telling about how her daughter was so excited for the phone, and how excited the young woman was to get a license.

The mother insists she was clear about the phone being locked in the glove box while driving, but she trails of into a tear-jerking moment where she asks,

“How could I be so stupid? I put the one thing in her hand that she couldn’t control- painkillers.”

The distraught mother holds up the empty pill bottle to the camera. Throughout the narrative, we are given glimpses of a young girl with her friends. Then the woman portraying the mother delivers a line that makes this message devastating.

“There is nothing in the world that will take this pain away. Ever.”

The commercial closes with the statistic stating:

Teenagers are more likely to die from overdose than texting and driving.

Lock up your prescription medication. Dispose of unused medication properly.

Both of these quick stories are so painfully portrayed by the actors that you can’t help but feel a strong emotional response to the faces and voices in the videos. The fact these ads made their message unexpected at first only adds to the impact.

Getting the Message Across

With these Super Bowl LI commercials the tactic of the twist ending is powerful. Schupp Consulting directed the PSAs and Mark Schupp shared this idea saying,

“There’s a spin to these that I think is very effective,”…”And when we showed them to a (preview) group, they were stunned.”

You may remember that last year NCADA aired another dramatic and compelling Super Bowl commercial called “All America Girl” that told of a young cheerleader turned heroin addict.

The year prior the 2015 PSA featured a mother finding her son overdosed on heroin. Consistently the organization has worked to get a very real, very personal message across.

Yet, some reports show that Schupp thinks this year’s Super Bowl LI commercials are the most powerful. Some might say “powerful” is an understatement. These ads have so much feeling it is hard for many to imagine the reality of them; that these stories come true all over the nation.

The Super Bowl LI commercials reminded us of a lot of things this year. They spoke to us about more than products; they spoke to us about who we are as a nation and where we are in terms of dealing with the adversities we face. Prescription drug abuse and the stigma surrounding addiction is one of the hurdles we know we face, and one that we need to work together to overcome. Recovery is full of champions. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

    CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

National Recovery Month 2016: Family Stories Theme

National Recovery Month 2016: Family Theme

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

This September brings us another opportunity to talk about raising awareness for substance abuse, addiction and recovery with National Recovery Month 2016. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that actively spearheads public health efforts for progress in behavioral health. Along with other organizations and community leaders, SAMHSA helps to create events around the country for this very important topic.

History of Awareness

SAMHSA was created by Congress back in 1992 to make mental health and substance abuse services more accessible. However the origins of National Recovery Month go back even farther.

  • 1989

National Recovery Month began as “TreatmentWorks!Month” established to honor the work of professionals in the treatment and recovery field.

  • 1998

The annual observance grew into “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” to include rejoicing in the accomplishments of individuals who are actively in recovery from substance use disorders.

  • 2011

This celebration evolved even further to National Recovery Month AKA “Recovery Month” to include all facets of behavioral and mental health recovery.

  • 2015

The theme for the 2015 National Recovery Month was:

“Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!”

Along with the theme last year’s events were organized to bring people together to share real life experiences of how recovery impacted their lives, while standing up against stigma of addiction and recovery.

The Theme for 2016

The theme for the 27th annual Recovery Month 2016 is:

“Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!”

This year’s theme highlights the value of family support throughout recovery. The theme also invites individuals in recovery and their families to share personal stories and successes to encourage and empower others.

Addiction is known as a “family disease.” This means that the family and friends of an alcoholic are often as sick as the alcoholic themselves.  Likewise, when someone finds themselves on the road to recovery, the family often gets the opportunity to be active and inspired in their journey.

Most holistic drug addiction treatment programs offer the opportunity to take part in a family program. This will put loved ones and family members in direct contact with the care professionals and clinical teams who are working with your family member to develop a plan of recovery.

We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

   Click for FREE GIFT

Recovery Month Event Schedule for Florida

In observance of National Recovery Month 2016 there is a vast calendar of events all over the country to raise awareness for this important cause. These events range from support groups and discussions to open celebrations. Lets highlight some of the upcoming events in the Florida area. Here are some of the events for the rest of September.

  1. ENEMY Album Release Party- Thursday, September 22, 2016

This is an open public event set to take place at Paradise Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The details have it listed as an entertainment event, and the description says it is benefiting the Face the Music Foundation.

  1. Recovery Sunday- Sunday, September 25, 2016

Recovery Sunday at Christ United Methodist Church in Venice, Florida includes three worship services. As part of this event attendees will have a chance to see a brief video of a personal testimony about a family’s discovery of the Support & Addiction Family Education (SAFE) ministry and their personal journey. The showings are:

  • 7:30am- 8:30am
  • 9:00am-10:00am
  • 11:00am-12:00pm

In addition, display tables will be set up with free booklets about the disease of addiction and the recovery journey.

  1. TB Rays Recovery Month- Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Tampa Bay Rays and BayCare Behavioral Health invite the community to celebrate National Recovery Month on Sunday, September 25, at 1:10pm when the Rays take on the Red Sox! The deadline to purchase tickets is Wednesday, September 21, 2016. Lower Level Tickets are $20 ($45 Value). To reserve your seats call 727-940-2837 Monday through Friday between 8am- 5 pm.

This event will take place in Saint Petersburg, Florida from 1:00pm- 4:00pm. Sports fans should definitely check this one out.

  1. Block Party: Celebrate Recovery- September 30, 2016

That’s right, it’s a Block Party! This is a great chance to bring families and communities together to celebrate recovery! Free food is provided, along with a raffle ticket for your chance to win a few great prizes! The party starts at 5:00pm.

This is another open public event in Jacksonville Florida, with an estimated 200 attendees already. Look online to find more information about this rally for Recovery Month.

Find Out More

You can get involved, or find an event in your area, by checking out the SAMHSA website for National Recovery Month. You can also see inspirational PSA videos that emphasize the importance of family and community support in recovery.

So many people overlook the importance of having a strong system of support standing behind you in the recovery process. The role of family members and loved ones in an individual’s recovery is paramount, because it can provide a sense of love and security like no other. However, beyond National Recovery Month events, you can help inform people about the importance of family in recovery.

You can either stand on the sidelines of someone’s suffering, or you can get in the game and work with them for change. Reading through countless stories of families who fought together to overcome addiction, I think this is an awesome theme for National Recovery Month. And communities should think of themselves as a family. It isn’t just about the people in your house; your neighborhood is your home. Take care of your family out there too.

Recovery Month also emphasizes helping people find the treatment they desperately need. Making a difference can be as simple as making a beginning. Palm Partners wants to help.

Just as we said last year, thousands of people everywhere are growing and changing their lives through programs of recovery. Along with them, thousands of families are rebuilding and sharing their strength and hope. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call. We want to help. You are not alone.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Ohio Parents Overdose Photo: How Addiction is Killing Families

Ohio Parents Overdose Photo: How Addiction is Killing Families

Author: Justin Mckibben

Probably one of the most disturbing articles I have written about my home state of Ohio is one I can’t ignore. Since the photo of the two parents overdose in a car with a child in the back seat first broke it has been covered by pretty much every national news entity. The images have flooded Facebook feeds and internet forums all day. The story has been emailed to me, messaged to me, even texted to me over and over again since the news was first published. Honestly, this image says a lot about what is really going on.

I’ve heard some people insisting the media is on some mission to shock us with these photos and the headlines it’s attached to, but this is the reality! People need to wake up! This is happening in every town, not just the City of East Liverpool, Ohio. This very same situation is reoccurring in rural counties and downtown areas across the nation. Something needs to change, and like I keep saying- we need to change it.

The difference here is that police officers decided to make a statement with the severity of this graphic picture; to tell the story that is happening to families everywhere with one heartbreaking and gut-wrenching hit to the soft spot of our society.

This is what we are doing to our children.

Not a Pretty Picture

The City of East Liverpool, Ohio took to Facebook to share two graphic photos taken by a police officer at the scene of a stop. The post on social media does note that making the photos public was a combined decision by the city administration, law director, and the police department.

In the image we can clearly see a couple that authorities described as overdosing on drugs in the front seat of a car. The mother’s body is hunched and folded over the center console in the front seat of the vehicle. Her face seems shrunken in and dead. The husband is buckled into the front seat, and has nodded out.

The photo is almost abstract. Like two images that obviously don’t belong have been pasted together. The parents in the front seat look as if any sign of color has been drained out of them- it is all so depressing it feels faded and lifeless… then right behind them, in a blue and green t-shirt with cartoon dinosaurs, sitting in what appears to be a car seat, is a 4 year old child. It is an unreal reality… a tragic and despairing truth.

The post that accompanied the pictures powerfully states:

“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”

So far this post is being both praised and criticized. At one point it had been shared on Facebook more than 12,000 times, and that was a few hours ago. By now that number has undoubtedly skyrocketed.

The Police Report

The police report detailing this story is also posted on Facebook. In the report East Liverpool police officer Kevin Thompson reviewed that on September 7 he was responding to a report of a Ford Explorer with a West Virginia license plate “driving very erratic weaving back and forth” before an abrupt stop in the middle of the road behind a school bus in the process of letting children off. Inside the vehicle the officer found two adults:

  • James Acord

The driver, identified as James Acord, was speaking unintelligibly. Acord’s head was bobbing up and down, and eventually became unconscious during the stop. But before passing out Acord told the officer he was taking his front seat passenger to the hospital. The officer had to remove the keys from the vehicle as Acord made a last attempt to drive away.

  • Rhonda Pasek

The passenger, identified as Rhonda Pasek, was completely unconscious and “turning blue” according to Thompson.

Inside the car, police found a “yellow folded up piece of paper” between Pasek’s legs. Inside the paper officers discovered a “small amount of a pink powdery substance.”

Then there is the piece of this picture that has the country in an uproar- the little boy in the backseat. The child is now identified as Pasek’s son.

Thompson called for an ambulance and the emergency personnel. Once emergency services arrived they were able to administer the opiate overdose antidote, Narcan to both adults. After regaining consciousness Acord and Pasek were transported to East Liverpool Hospital.

The Charges

Acord was eventually charged with

He plead no contest and was sentenced to 180 days in jail for two of those charges, but the stopping in a roadway charge was dropped. He will also have a 3 year suspension on his license and a $475 fine.

Pasek was charged with:

  • Endangering children
  • Public intoxication
  • Not wearing a seatbelt

She plead not guilty and is held on $150,000 bond until her next court date, which is next Thursday.

At this time the 4 year old child is with Columbiana County Children’s Services.

This picture is not pretty to look at. It brings an ache to my chest and a sting to my eyes. I could cry for this child, and for his family. For the millions of people out there today with family who are doing the same thing to themselves and their children. The driver could have killed them all in a freak accident. Now… imagine the horror if he would have nodded out at the wheel and struck that school bus as it let kids off! How many more children could have been hurt?

What We Need to See

Some are outraged at the lack of privacy for the family. Many have insisted it is wrong to punish the two adults AND the child with a life haunted by this photo. I get it, and I’m an advocate for compassion instead of stigma and exploitation. It is truly troubling to know how harshly people will be judged by the images of them found online. Yet, I think things like this are what we need to see sometimes. It is a fine line to walk, but in the end there is a reality to the image that only something so intimate could convey- this is what we need to see.

What we need to see is how this epidemic is destroying the thing that most of us hold sacred- our families. While many people are upset about the images, I understand the local officials motives. The Facebook post confronts this controversy head-on:

“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis. The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that,”

We the addicts need to see this the dark and brutal truth. The sad and comatose body of an addicted mother dying only a few inches away from her child who is barely old enough to walk and talk on his own! We all need to see the truth of this disease. It is killing us, and it is putting everyone around us at risk- especially the ones we love most. We need to see the children and the communities we are hurting. This is the face of addiction as we often refuse to acknowledge it.

Addiction is killing our families every day. But there is help. Real recovery begins with a real foundation for a better future. We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

   Click for FREE GIFT

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. You are not alone.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

How Gymnast Simone Biles Can Inspire All

How Gymnast Simone Biles Can Inspire All

Author: Shernide Delva

Gymnast Simone Biles is on fire. Whether you are a gymnastic fanatic or not (Okay, I admit, I’m obsessed.), it is hard to mention the Olympics without Simone Biles in the same sentence. A few days ago, the 19-year-old gymnast dominated the Pacific Rim Championships earning a gold medal and nailing all of her routines.

Since 2015, Biles has won gold at the American Cup, Secret U.S. Classic, P&G Championships, World Championships and now the Pacific Rim Championships.  As much as I love front runner Gabby Douglas, I believe Simone has a chance to win the all-around gold medal at the Olympics in Rio this year. Basically, the girl is unstoppable. Still, despite Simone’s triumphs, the journey was not always easy, especially not in the beginning.

Simone Biles was born in Columbus, Ohio on March 14, 1997, to her birth-mother Shanon Biles. However, Shanon Biles struggled heavily with a drug and alcohol addiction. At one point, her grandfather, Ron Biles, received a phone call from a social worker saying that all four of his grandchildren were in foster care.   Ron decided to take the children to Texas for a while before letting them go back to live with their mother. Unfortunately, Shanon Biles relapsed and was deemed unfit to be a parent.  Her parental rights were terminated.

As a result, her grandparents made the major decision to take both Simone Biles and her little sister Adria under their custody.  The other two children were to live with Ron’s sister.  Growing up, Simone Biles took control of protecting her younger sister Adria. She tried to find order in a disorderly situation.

“She thought she was a little mom in the house,”  Simone’s  grandmother Nellie Biles said. “She made decisions for herself and her sister because this was all they knew.”

The decision for Simone’s grandparents to parent Simone and her sister Adria was far from easy one.   Nellie Biles had already raised three children. Her two sons were almost off to college, and she was looking forward to being an empty-nester. All of a sudden, they found themselves responsible for a three-year-old and a toddler. These were not challenges Nellie had planned for at the age of 50.

“It was a hard transition for me because they didn’t have any connection to me and I didn’t have any connection to them,” Nellie Biles said.

Two years of counseling allowed Ron and Nellie to figure out the tools to make it work. They ended up legally adopting Simone and her sister. It seems as though their commitment and dedication have transferred to Simone as well.  The athlete has openly discussed her training schedule which involves training for up to 7 hours a day, 32 hours a week.

Before attending high school, Simone made the decision to be home schooled rather than attend traditional high school. Homeschooling allowed her the flexibility to train as hard as the other top gymnasts.  That decision ultimately paid off.

Choosing to Look Past the Negative

Simone Biles’s accomplishments have pushed her to the spotlight, and naturally, Simone has had to deal with haters from time to time. Italian gymnast, Vanessa Ferarri commented that she believes judges are favoring more black athletes and black body types,while her teammate Carlotta Ferlito sarcastically said she should “paint her skin black to win the next competition.”

These comments are of course about Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, who happen to be African-American gymnasts dominating the sport right now.  However, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles have vastly different body types, and Gabby Douglas was the first African-American to win the individual all-around event at the London Olympics 2012. That was less than four years ago. Clearly this is not a regular “favoring” from the judges.

Fortunately, Biles has decided to focus on the competition, not the chatter.

“I just try to have fun and block out what everybody else says,” she said.

Moving Forward

While Simone does keep in contact with her biological mother from time to time, she is quick to affirm to the public that her grandparents are her true parents.  Shanon Biles is her biological mother. Nellie Biles is Mom.

The talented gymnast has many competitions to look forward to before the Olympics, and while only time will tell where Biles journey will lead to, one thing is for sure: Simone is in it to win it. Simone grew up in a family cobbled together by circumstances, and now she has a toughness that simply can not be taken away.

“She’s a survivor,” Nellie Biles said. “She’s been a survivor from a very, very young age.”


Simone Biles teaches that you are not a product of your circumstances. Instead, you are a product of what you do with those circumstances.  At the end of the day, we all grow up with challenges, but we all have the opportunity to find a way to succeed despite those challenges. Now is your time. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Should Kids Be Trained to Use Naloxone?

Should Kids Be Trained to Use Naloxone?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

I remember a while back I had written about how some schools were venturing to start training their nursing staff how to administer naloxone, the life-saving opiate overdose antidote. There was some controversy over the concept, and many people were just not sure if this was a wise plan, and would it be sending the wrong message?

Some were actually concerned that providing this kinds of training might actually have an adverse effect on the students in these schools and that it might actually encourage opiate use.

Right now with more people becoming aware of the life-saving benefits of opiate overdose antidote drug naloxone, as well as its easy to use administration. Some communities are now going beyond the training of school staff and skipping ahead instead to teaching the kids themselves how to administer naloxone.

Empowering the Youth

Naloxone (Narcan) is a drug that helps to reverse the effects of opiate based drugs such as heroin. Naloxone has been proven to save lives, and many states have begun actively finding ways to increase access to this amazing resource in the face of a horrific opiate epidemic.

Up until recently only medical professionals could administer the drug inside the confines of a hospital, but more and more communities are doing everything they can to empower the people in their area to help on the front lines against addiction and overdose.

Jennifer Stepp is a resident of Bullitt County, Kentucky and acts as the leader of her community Opioid Addiction Team. Stepp has a 25 year old son who has struggled with addiction for most of his life, and she herself has already taught her eight-year-old daughter Audrey how to use naloxone, but she hasn’t stopped there. Stepp has announced plans to host a local workshop on November 21, 2015 to teach other children in the area how to administer naloxone. One company Evizo, which manufactures naloxone-administering devices, has already donated free kits to support this effort.

This plan has its share of strong supports, including Dr. Mina “Mike” Kalfas, a certified addiction expert in Northern Kentucky. Dr. Kalfas stated:

“This is telling them, if you do find a brother, sister, mother, uncle, not breathing, here’s something that you can do about it. These kids are realizing that drugs can kill them. This is part of an environment where they might find someone dead.”

Also in Kentucky is the action being put forth by a nonprofit organization entitled Mentoring Plus of Northern Kentucky, which rallied together for a naloxone-administering workshop last May for a group of children between the ages of 13 up to 17. The Mentoring Plus workshop was part of a 10-week drug abuse prevention program for kids.

Why So Important?

Now some people may read this and think it’s a bit extreme, but these kinds of programs are particularly crucial for states like Kentucky, which has found itself caught in the uproar of the opiate addiction epidemic. While some would say teaching children to use an overdose antidote is far too excessive, a Kentucky Health Issues Poll in 2014 revealed in Northern Kentucky nearly 26% of those surveyed knew someone with a heroin problem.

And that is just the people willing to admit it or talk about it. Not to mention countless others who are dealing with their own addictions.

So many families are plagued by the disease of addiction, and far too many children in these communities and many others are being left orphaned in the wake of this outbreak. As death rates from overdose skyrocket we can easily look around in any community and see the toll it has taken. How many children could lose a brother or sister, mother or father right in front of their eyes because of opiate addiction?

So is it wrong that some officials think we should put some knowledge or resource in the hands of children at a certain age so that given the circumstances they can intervene in a way that could save the life of their loved one if necessary?

Surely some people will not feel this is the right thing. Surely some people will worry that this sets a bad precedence, or that it is too dangerously close to condoning drug abuse… is it truly better to be safe than sorry?

I think in this case it is. Personally I think it also shows young people the gravity of the situation. Death is a very real, very common outcome from this kind of drug abuse. Maybe the best way to implement harm reduction while simultaneously providing a level of prevention means teaching young people about how quickly these drugs kill, and how they can try to help someone before it is too late.

The reality is people everywhere fight for their own lives against the disease of addiction, and life-saving drugs like naloxone could mean the difference for some to have a second chance or not. Maybe giving kids the knowledge as early as we can will help. You don’t have to suffer an overdose to choose to get help, you just have to make the choice. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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