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Dear Friends,

I’ve spent the last few days doing several media interviews regarding a major drug company’s opioid settlements. The first round of 18 years of funds designated for combating the crisis these drugs created was sent to Arizona and many other states. One interesting question each reporter asked was do I think the money was enough. I’m guessing the implied answer is of course not. But the more important question to me, that wasn’t asked, is how would you put a price on the loss of life, the suffering, the heartache, the broken relationships and all the collateral damage that has happened? 
I remember years ago I was in an automobile accident, and I had a nasty case of whiplash. I was young and when the other person’s insurance was not stepping up to take care of the bills, I decided to hire a lawyer.  He was a person I knew well, and he explained this might take some time.  Nearly two years after the accident, having been put through who knows how many interviews, filling out numerous forms and all the other nonsense, they settled. I can’t remember exactly what I received but I think it was $2,000-$3,000. At that point I didn’t even care. I had been through months of physical therapy and was in pain and, honestly, the money didn’t make me feel better and it did not fix my neck!
In this case, I hope they use the funds to look at this crisis from a holistic standpoint. I hope they look at prevention, as well as intervention, like PAL and other support services that work to truly help families and try to find better outcomes.  I know it is extremely important to help children understand the consequences of trying drugs even once in this world of fentanyl. However, we know from history that some will try them and then the dependence nature of these drugs will kick in and we will see the signs of addiction and the problem becomes very different. Since these funds are being distributed all around the country, if you are aware of the process in your state for applying, and you are willing to help us, please let us know. We would like to have funds that are focused on specific areas and try to grow our support system wherever it is needed. 
Money will never bring back a lost loved one or the suffering or the devastated relationships; however, we could use it wisely and work on the future to try to turn this nightmare around.  Stories of hope abound as you will read in this newsletter. We are also coming up on our annual Power of PAL event on November 5.  We will showcase the true power of PAL, so please consider coming and being a part of this inspirational event.  If you are not in Arizona but want to attend, please let us know and there will be a no cost event ticket for you.  If you just cannot make it in person, please consider registering to watch online as we broadcast it live that evening. I hope to see you there! 

God bless,

Kim Humphrey
CEO/Executive Director
Power of PAL 

Get your early bird tickets now!
The POWER of PAL is an experience of hope for all those affected by or connected to a loved one suffering from substance use disorder. It is an inspirational, informational and touching national event that will leave both in-person attendees and virtual viewers encouraged and wanting to stay connected.

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Guest Writer: The happy birdwatcher

My oldest child was a great kid and a model teenager. He was smart, kind, responsible, polite and hard-working. I regularly received compliments about what a fine young man he was. I was so proud of him and considered him a product of good Christian parenting and homeschooling.

After high school, he didn’t pursue a traditional college path but pursued an electrician apprenticeship and started working on his 18th birthday. When he was 19 and still living at home, I noticed some changes in his behavior. Very quickly, my healthy, loving, responsible boy disappeared and was replaced by a thin, raging, irresponsible person who scared me. I was so worried about him, but it never crossed my mind that he could be using drugs!

It wasn’t until I had to call the police and have him arrested that I learned what was wrong. I’ll never forget when the police officer, who also happened to be my son’s great uncle, looked at me and said, “You know he’s on dope.” Utter devastation was all I could feel. How could this have happened to our family? To my boy?

The next several months were a blur. My son was in and out of multiple rehab programs and jail. My youngest daughter left for college, I was planning a wedding to my now husband and I was promoted to Executive Director at the nonprofit where I worked. Some wonderful things were happening in my life, but I couldn’t enjoy any of them because it was all overshadowed by the chaos associated with my son’s addiction.

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PAL Facilitators are...priceless
It is very hard to give someone anything that does not have a price tag attached. Human nature tells us that if you have not put a value on it, then why should I want it? On the other side of the coin, if the tag reads $565, its worth is defined and your sense of value changes. I’m here to tell you that there are people who have a gift that will change your life. They are a rare breed - one might say almost extinct. You must walk softly and have a keen eye to spot one.
These people are PAL facilitators: past and present. They possess the ability and desire to give their time and energy to help frustrated, scared, lost and angry family members who are daily dealing with a loved one with substance use disorder. It does not matter whether you’re new to this pain or have been dealing with it for years, a PAL facilitator is a gatherer of family members’ suffering. They have the passion to stay the course, providing ways to battle the addiction. It’s that “never give up” attitude that gives them a value.  In the eyes of many, their worth is priceless.
Imagine reducing your anger, being able to turn off your phone and getting a good night’s sleep, ridding your mind of shame and guilt, not losing your life savings and having a normal conversation with your adult child. As you already know or will learn, you cannot "fix" your son or daughter. However, a PAL facilitator can help educate, support and encourage you as a family member. The education you receive in PAL can help you in ways you aren’t even aware of yet.  PAL facilitators and PAL participants walk this path together, extending a helping hand and an ear for listening. For those people who feel they are in the battle alone, you are not! Your PAL family is there for support and only a phone call away.
A facilitator is not a superhero with magic powers, but they, along with the other members, will pick you up when you fall from the top floor of the hope hotel. They will find the positive when all looks bleak, and they will encourage you when you feel alone. Facilitators come in different sizes, ages and from many locations all over this country. They share the desire from their hearts and souls to eliminate suffering and pain in the family. A facilitator is a blessed sight to see. If you encounter one, consider it your lucky day and thank them for all they do. No matter where you are on this path, grow in your journey to reclaim your life.
I challenge you to consider becoming a PAL Facilitator.
Gene Butcher, PAL Facilitator
Georgetown, KY PAL Group

Learning to work on me, not him

I am the mom of an addicted loved one.
Our blended family of 32 years consists of myself, my husband and our three children.  My son’s dad was an addict and passed away when he was 16 years old.  It was then that my husband adopted my children.
My son was a great student, a great basketball player, an All-State Champion and earned a scholarship to college.  He graduated in four years and received his degree in business. 
During college, he started drinking and when he got home after graduating, he started using pot for his anxiety and ADD. After a breakup with his fiancé, things really started going south.  He found a psychiatrist through his insurance who prescribed him medication for anxiety, sleep and depression. That’s when the abuse began. Not only was he abusing the medications, but he was also selling and trading pills at his job.
After seeing a mom and son on Dr. Phil who had gone through a similar situation, we decided to have an intervention. The son, who was now sober, and his mom were working as interventionists, so we flew them out to help us.
As a result of the intervention, my son voluntarily went to a recovery center, but after 30 days he checked himself out (against the wishes of the recovery center).
He later got married and had a child on the way when he got more and more heavily involved with Oxy.

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The story can have a happy ending

I’m currently writing this post from the 2nd floor of Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Arizona – the postpartum maternity ward to be exact. We welcomed our son Kaehler into the world. Needless to say, we’re overjoyed to finally have him here with us. Tired for sure, but incredibly happy to have another healthy addition to our family. To be able to show up today, to be a father, a husband, and a present family member was something that, not so long ago, I could not have even fathomed. It is a blessing to be here today in every sense of the word.
Ten years ago, I remember staring blankly out these same hospital windows, in this very same hospital, right around this same time of year. After a stretch of particularly hard living, I found myself admitted to a hospital, yet again. My addiction was completely out of control. After having a severe adverse reaction to bacteria present in a single use syringe I had been reusing, my brother brought me to the ER. Vomiting, cramping, extreme pain that caused me to writhe on the floor, unable to sit or even stand - I was in bad shape. After an intensive and rather invasive examination that included catheters and a painful spinal tap to check for meningitis, the ER nurses knocked me out with a powerful sedative.
When I came to, I was admitted to the infectious disease ward on the 3rd floor. A doctor entered the room and informed me that I had Valley Fever and was there for observation and strong antifungal drug treatment. Obviously, my poor choices were a strong contributing factor to this diagnosis. My life was in shambles. Completely physically and mentally ill, I couldn’t draw a sober breath despite my best efforts. Ultimately, even with all these insane consequences, I still couldn’t manage to commit myself to accepting the help I so desperately needed.
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