Daily/weekly/monthly recurring activities:
· Admin of Island Addiction Movement Facebook support group for people in active addiction, people in recovery, and family members. It was also a place where members of the public could get information.
· Admin of Take it to the MAT Facebook support group for people on medication-assisted treatments (MAT).
· Admin of SMART Recovery PEI Facebook support group for SMART Recovery participants.
· Admin of SMART Recovery – Queen’s County Facebook public page where we share information about SMART Recovery.
· Admin of SMART Recovery PEI Facilitators group.
· Facilitate at least one SMART Recovery or SMART Recovery Family & Friends meeting per week.
· Coordinate SMART Recovery meetings, which includes scheduling and treasurer duties.
· Update blog 365 days per year with daily readings and share these readings in some Facebook groups.
· Researching, reading and preparing for the many meetings as a member of the Province’s Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council.
· Continuous reading and research to keep on top of the latest happenings in the world of addiction.
Summary of Activities
Attended the Family Education program at the Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility to learn more about addiction. This was the beginning of my quest for information to save my son and others. I never stopped researching and learning all that I could about addiction, and was able to share what I learned with others through my advocacy work. I would eventually become a regular guest speaker for this program along with my friend, Roni Power.
Joined a newly formed committee called Island Addiction Movement whose aim was to raise awareness and advocate for change in how addiction is treated. The group folded in 2012 so I went out on my own to try to make a difference.
Admin of Island Addiction Movement Facebook group where members share experiences, strength and hope around addiction. I post readings in the group each day.
Researched addiction like a mad woman trying to find information that would save my son and be helpful to others as well. I shared many of the things that I found with the members of the Island Addiction Movement and other Facebook groups.
Wrote to the then Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper and Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and all PEI Senators expressing my opposition to the new omnibus bill C-10. This bill would have a negative impact on individuals struggling with mental health and addiction. I also shared the information on the Island Addiction Movement Facebook group and encouraged others to write to them as well.
Travelled to Edmonton where I checked out a couple of family support groups with the goal of starting one on PEI. Found two promising groups. Began the process of starting one (Nar-Anon) in Charlottetown and shared information about the other to the then Justice Minister Janice Sherry.
Attended session hosted by H.O.P.E. in Summerside on drug issues on PEI. Many MLAs and members of the public were in attendance. I shared our family’s story.
Started and chaired a Nar-Anon family support group in Charlottetown. It was the first one in Atlantic Canada. Meetings were held weekly.
Met with Donald MacPherson, Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (Vancouver) for the first time (and other times after that) to discuss what other provinces and grassroots movements were doing around addiction all across Canada.
Attended session on teen drug use and prevention at Queen Charlotte School.
Delivered a presentation on addiction to Kerry Marsh’s Sociology class at UPEI. This was the first time I had spoken publicly in this way about our family’s experience.
Our son’s application to go to Homewood was turned down. This was the turning point where I decided to go even more public in order to reach a larger audience. This launched me into advocacy work. Prior to this, I had been trying to educate people about addiction to build understanding and compassion and offer support. After this, I was determined to change the system, too. I didn’t know how broken it was until his application was denied.
Attended a community group discussion on issues affecting women on PEI to share our family’s struggles with addiction and getting help.
Spoke to the media for the first time where I shared our family’s struggle with getting help for our son in The Guardian. “A Mother’s Plea”. I was determined to bring about change in a broken system.
Began meeting weekly with students and staff at Colonel Gray High School to create the curriculum and prepare for the delivery of the Peer to Peer Drug Awareness Program at local junior high schools.
Our Colonel Gray team successfully delivered the Peer to Peer Drug Awareness Program to Grade 9 students at Birchwood and Queen Charlotte schools (4 visits per school). The feedback from the students was extremely positive. They wanted more of it. We received individual awards from Mayor Clifford Lee for our efforts on this important issue.
Provided the voice of the family in the “Making the Connection” panel discussion on drug use held at Colonel Gray. This was part of the Peer to Peer Drug Awareness initiative.
Wrote letter to the editor, The Guardian, “In-School Police Officer Well Worth Expenditure”
I became a blogger! To raise awareness, build compassion, support others, educate, and try to prevent other families from going through this, I started my blog called “Living in the Shadows in Prince Edward Island”. Since my first blog post on January 1, 2013, the blog has been viewed over 235,000 times. I update my blog daily (never miss a day) with inspirational readings. Also in 2013, I posted 58 blog entries.
Provided the voice of the family in the second edition of the “Making the Connection” panel discussion on drug use held at Colonel Gray. Parents who attended the previous panel presentation wanted us to do it again so that they could get more parents there to hear it.
Participated in the Boys and Girls Club video called “Innocence Lost: Stories of Youth Addiction on PEI”.
Through our mutual work on addiction, my path crossed with Cheryl Roche and Janice Coady from the Reach Foundation. We had regular meetings to discuss the Reach Foundation and the progress that Cheryl and Janice were making in getting it going. Since that time, it has opened its doors and I’ve been a passionate volunteer and advocate for the Centre.
Wrote letter to the editor, The Guardian, “Addiction is a Family Disease”
Attended the public screening at The Guild of “Innocence Lost: Stories of Youth Addiction on PEI”.
Invited to be the voice of the family on a panel at a Youth Addiction Forum in Poole’s Corner organized by the NDP.
Met with Jennifer Cairns-Burke from our Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility to discuss prevention and other programs that are being offered.
Wrote letter to the editor, The Guardian, “What Research Tells us About Addiction Treatment”
Participated in a three part CBC radio interview about our family’s struggle with getting help for our son. This was broadcast on Island Morning.
Encouraged a young Methadone patient (who reached out to me) to speak to The Guardian anonymously about his harassment at work in the hopes of opening people’s minds and hearts, including his employer’s. Sadly, methadone patients are highly and unfairly stigmatized. I spoke with the reporter before setting up the interview to stress the importance of changing any identifying details in order to protect his identity. He desperately needed his job. “Methadone Patient Facing Discrimination”. His situation at work did improve some.
Wrote letter to the editor, The Guardian, “The Truth About Methadone” in response to the article mentioned above.
Arranged a meeting with an addictions doctor from Ontario to discuss evidence-based treatments and best practices based on his experience. I and a few other addictions advocates attended.
Wrote letter to the editor, The Guardian, “Time for Action on Addictions”
Presented to the provincial Standing Committee on Health and Social Development where I spoke about our family’s struggles with addiction and the challenges in accessing help for our son.
Guest speaker at the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women’s monthly meeting. Spoke about our family’s struggles with addiction and in accessing help for our son.
Attended the public presentation of the Addiction and Mental Health Review, and was interviewed by CBC reporter.
Took the required training to become a SMART Recovery facilitator so that I could eventually start a meeting up in Charlottetown, which would give Islanders a choice in recovery programs. This would be the first SMART Recovery meeting being offered east of Quebec.
Joined the Province’s Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council as the voice of the family to work on the long-term planning for addictions and mental health on PEI. I am very proud of the work that we have been doing and pray that our recommendations will be implemented!
Interviewed by Stephanie Drummond from Holland College’s Surveyor Online about my family’s experience with addiction.
Wrote letter to the Editor of The Guardian called “People seeking help for addiction must get it in a timely manner”.
Cheryl Roche and I met with the H.O.P.E. group in Summerside to give them more information about the Reach Centre.
Wrote letter to the Editor of The Guardian called “Programs like Reach make a difference for all Islanders”.
Volunteered for Art for Addiction at the Reach Centre.
Attended and spoke at addictions protest at Province House.
Co-Founded the 3 C’s Family Support Group (now called SMART Recovery Family & Friends). Roni Power and I knew that families desperately needed support so we started a support group that would be different than what was currently be offered so people would have a choice. In October 2015, we converted our family meeting to a SMART Recovery Family & Friends group as a complement to our SMART Recovery meetings. AA has Al-Anon for families while SMART Recovery has SMART Recovery Family & Friends.
Roni and I were interviewed by Karen Mair on CBC Mainstreet where we talked about our new family meeting.
Interviewed by MTV for a documentary on addiction where I shared our family’s journey through addiction.
Roni and I were guest speakers twice in 2014 at the Family Education Sessions with Jim Good at Mt. Herbert.
Guest speaker at the Anonymous People documentary viewing and addiction discussion hosted by Mike Redmond of the NDP.
My poem Heart of a Mother was made into a song by JD White. The day it was released on You Tube, we were asked by a cable television show “Time to Heal”, which is based in the USA, if they could play it at the opening of the show. We gave permission for them to use it. JD and I worked on two more songs together since then and all have been well received. Music touches people in a whole other way.
Was honoured to be asked to be a Featured Blogger on TAM’s addiction support website, which has over 30,000 members.
Volunteered at the Reach Regatta fundraiser on the Charlottetown waterfront.
Co-hosted and spoke at a Welcome event at the Reach Centre for Chris Cull who was cycling across Canada to raise awareness about the prescription drug epidemic in the country. Many people came out to hear Chris speak, including several politicians and media. His visit to PEI received great coverage.
Roni and I spoke to Tracy Craig’s family group at the Summerside Addiction Services at the PCH.
Attended the Mental Health and Addictions Announcement, and was interviewed by CBC and The Guardian.
Volunteered at Reach Centre’s Blow Out Sale fundraiser.
Met with folks at UPEI to learn more about the CBT4CBT pilot program for addictions on PEI.
Gave permission for my and JD White’s song The Heart of a Mother to be used in the soundtrack for the documentary An American Epidemic produced by Michael DeLeon. This documentary aims to raise awareness about the epidemic.
In addition to my 365 daily posts in 2014, I wrote 64 blog entries.
Started offering SMART Recovery meetings along with Nicole Publicover and Roni Power. We now offer three meetings per week plus a family meeting. Besides being a facilitator, I also served as coordinator and treasurer.
Nicole and I were interviewed by Karen Mair on CBC Mainstreet about SMART Recovery.
Roni and I spoke to Tracy Craig’s family group at the Summerside Addiction Services at the PCH.
Became an Admin of a Facebook support group for SMART Recovery PEI participants.
My poem Heart of a Mother was published in Recovery Today magazine in March 2015.
Roni and I were guest speakers 3 times in 2015 at the Family Education Sessions with Jim Good at Mt. Herbert.
Nicole and I spoke to the H.O.P.E. group in Summerside about SMART Recovery.
Prepared and submitted proposal to Addictions Services to have SMART Recovery meetings included on the list of approved meetings and to be able to offer meetings at the treatment centre for in-patient clients. Both requests were approved.
Participated in the Mental Health Commission’s National Round Table discussions where we were asked for our thoughts and feedback on various issues related to mental health.
Attended a talk on Mental Health and Suicide as part of UPEI’s Mental Health Week.
Submitted a story about addiction to be considered for Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Became Admin of a Facebook group for SMART Recovery facilitators.
Part of a group that appeared with Boomer on Compass to promote the upcoming Art for Addiction fundraiser for Reach.
Roni and I started a Facebook group called Take it to the MAT for Islanders on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and their families where they can get evidence-based and reliable information about medications while feeling supported.
Volunteered for Art for Addiction at the Reach Centre.
Roni and I began planning for a big event on harm reduction to be held in October. There would be different planning sessions and conference calls held right up to the time of the presentation.
Attended a panel presentation on addiction in Montague where one of the moms from our family group was presenting. Roni and I went to support her and we were so proud of her. It is one of the highlights of my advocacy work. This was a broken mom when we met her after having lost a child to addiction. Now, she has a voice and is using it to help others.
Spoke to a Grade 12 class at Colonel Gray about mental health and addictions and our family’s journey.
Nicole and I visited the Lacey House and Talbot House to meet with the staff and residents to talk about SMART Recovery.
Wrote letter to the editor of The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon about the horrific death of a man in custody.
Wrote a letter of support to be included in a proposal for funding for CBT4CBT addiction treatment research at UPEI.
The documentary An American Epidemic which contains my and JD White’s song Heart of a Mother was released and I received my copy.
My story was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible. This was an incredible opportunity to reach a large mainstream audience with a story about addiction, love and hope.
As a Chicken Soup writer, I also had the option of working with charities to help them raise money through book sales and, of course, I wanted to do this! I chose the Reach Foundation in support of young people in recovery, and UPEI Student Affairs in support of their work with mental health initiatives for students. Both charities had successful fundraisers.
Started a Facebook page called SMART Recovery – Queen’s County where people could come to get information about SMART and our meetings.
Was invited to write an article for the SMART Recovery newsletter, which was published in September.
Our SMART team set up a table for SMART Recovery and the Reach Centre at the Recovery Day event in Charlottetown.
Interviewed by Karen Mair on CBC Mainstreet about being published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book.
Prepared the press releases for the Chicken Soup for the Soul book launch and signings. They were printed in the Guardian, Journal Pioneer, and West Prince Graphic.
The Reach Centre hosted the book launch, signing and fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds from book sales went to the Reach Centre.
Organized a book signing and fundraiser for Reach Centre at JC Handyman Sales & Service in Alberton. 100% of the proceeds from book sales went to the Reach Centre.
Interviewed by a reporter from The Graphic about my story being published in the Chicken Soup book and my advocacy work.
Book signing and fundraiser for Reach Centre at Twice Loved Clothing in Summerside. 100% of the proceeds from book sales went to the Reach Centre.
Roni Power and I co-organized a panel presentation called Harm Reduction: A Family Focus, which was sponsored by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition in Vancouver. The event was well attended and the panel was amazing! It was also taped by Pat Martel and can be found on this blog or You Tube if you would like to watch it.
Donna May, one of our panelists, and I were interviewed by Matt Rainnie on CBC’s Island Morning about our Harm Reduction panel presentation. Some of the interview was also aired on Compass that evening.
Arranged for Jim Day from the Guardian to interview Petra Schulz, another one of our Harm Reduction panelists, so that she could share her story and further raise awareness.
Was interviewed by Matt Gurney of National Post Radio in Toronto about my family’s journey with addiction and how it led to my advocacy work.
Interviewed by Jim Day of The Guardian about SMART Recovery for a story that he was doing on the program.
Was asked to write an article for the SMART Recovery Newsletter about our Harm Reduction Panel (our local SMART Recovery was also a sponsor).
Interviewed by Cathy Taughinbaugh who is a Parent Coach for parents of children who are struggling with substance use. She is based in California. The interview can be found on her website.
Spoke to a creative writing class at Kinkora Regional High School about writing and my family’s experience with addiction.
In addition to my daily posts, I wrote 14 blog entries in 2015.
As of December 2015, my son is now over two years in recovery. What a beautiful gift and a beautiful way to end my advocacy journey. I healed four years ago and he healed two years ago. Together, with my voice and his story we were able to help people and, hopefully, make a difference to Islanders and in the lives of people all around the globe who visited my blog each day. It warms my heart to know that people who are looking for treatment today are having a much different experience than my family did. Things are not perfect by any means, but they are better and we are grateful for that!
This summary will be great for me to have to look back on. I am so glad that I took the time to pull it together. I thought I would share it with all of you as well because every talk I gave, every piece that I wrote, and every bit of research I did was with all of you in mind. I never forgot about the people that I represented and how important it was that they have a voice. To have the greatest possible impact, I was always super prepared. One short talk would take hours of preparation. One piece of writing took hours and many revisions. Hours were spent researching almost daily, especially in the beginning. I wanted to be an educated and powerful voice that people could respect and one that would give you comfort in the fact that I was walking shoulder to shoulder with you on this journey. Perhaps my journey will inspire you to find your voice as well.
My list does not include the many emails, phone calls, coffee dates and other types of meetings I had with individuals who were struggling or in recovery, family members and others in the community who wanted to know more. Each of these contacts meant the world to me because it showed that I was reaching people from all over the Island and the world. My message was being heard! That is all any advocate could every hope for.
Thank you all!