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Drug Stories Project

Author: Drug Stories Project

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By sharing the personal narratives of those affected by the opioid and addiction epidemic, we can help erase the stigma. Listen. Learn. Share your story.
25 Episodes
Drugs and alcohol may have dulled the pain of Ben Heldfond’s youth, but they did not make the pain go away.  In recovery he learned lessons about accountability that finally helped him process the pain – lessons which he would apply to all aspects of his life. “Our Happy Divorce,” the book he co-wrote with his ex-wife, Nikki DeBartolo, about their journey to successful co-parenting and lasting friendship, was published in October 2019.
Change doesn’t come about on a national scale without strategic planning and organizing.  Just ask Michael King. Michael spent a decade organizing & running political campaigns around the US.  Now, as the Director and Creator of The Communities Project, he’s taking that expertise to communities across the country to align their voices and combat addiction through organizing. But first he had to work through his own addictions to alcohol and gambling.
When musician Jam Alker entered treatment in 2014 he took his guitar with him and began writing songs about his struggles. He discovered the creative process allowed him to lean into his feelings instead of trying to numb them. Now Alker takes his message of music's healing powers across the country, playing concerts, speaking to students, and leading workshops. He also works with Recovery Unplugged. Check him out
About ten years ago, Denise Williams found herself trying to navigate the intersection of mental illness and addiction with her twin sons, Ryan and Matt. She wishes she had been better prepared.
Paula Fish -Drug Court

Paula Fish -Drug Court


There are currently more than 3,000 drug courts in the United States. The one in Anne Arundel County, Maryland continues to expand. Drug Court manager, Paula Fish, explains how it works and why it saves lives.
Maureen Cavanagh is the founder of Magnolia New Beginnings, a non profit nationwide peer support group for those affected by substance use disorder. Her memoir, "If You Love Me: a Mother's Journey through her Daughter's Opioid Addiction" was published in September 2018.
As a social worker, Yana Khashper knew how to connect people struggling with mental health and addiction issues with the resources they might need. But for many years, there was a disconnect when it came to helping herself. Now in long-term recovery, Yana and her partner run ROCovery Fitness in Rochester, New York.
At the methadone clinic where she works, Sicily Owings hears from clients about the relationship between trauma and addiction in their lives. She also knows about it firsthand.
“This is what addiction does. It takes everything from us.” In recovery since, 2015, Isabel Landrum is working on getting her life back as she helps others at a detox and treatment center in Southern California.
In 1979, 30 year-old Eric Sterling went to work for a Democrat-led House committee tackling crime. A year later, Ronald Reagan won the White House and Republicans won the Senate. An epic battle for political control consumed much of the rest of that decade, and Sterling was in the middle of it, tasked with drafting the mandatory minimum sentencing policy. Now he has spent the last 30 years speaking out against the repercussions and cynicism of the drug policy he helped enact and the destructive nature of the war on drugs.
From her own experience, Angel Traynor knew that if you don’t give someone a structured place to go after treatment and send them back into their old environment instead, they are at a high risk to relapse. So she stepped in with Serenity Sistas housing, a safe haven for up to 47 people in recovery.
Everyone's journey of recovery is different but finding the strength, courage and hope to share your feelings is integral to living life to the fullest without drugs and alcohol. In South Florida, musician Terry Brent leads clients through a song-writing, recording and performing process that boosts them on their personal journey. Featuring the song, Piece of My Heart, by S.
At age 37, after 20 years of battling the disease of addiction, Karen McGinnis found a reason to make a change and make it work -- the birth of her son. Now in long-term recovery, she says, "I’m a single, independent, fully self-supporting woman today. And it’s the most liberating thing I’ve ever experienced because there was a time in my life where I took advantage of the system. And I have overcome all of that."
Grief is an individual experience. When the Manloves' son, David, died from a drug-related event, Kim's feelings of guilt and shame overwhelmed him  -- but it did not divide him from his wife, and together they have found acceptance.
Mariel Hafnagel is the Executive Director of the Ammon Foundation. In longterm recovery since 2007, she knows the disease of addiction well. Grace and luck and a lot of compassionate support changed her life.
In 2007, Dr. Faye Jamali broke her wrist.  What happened in the next few months jeopardized her career as an anesthesiologist and made her understand pain in a new way.
As an emergency medical technician, Dakota Ayers has seen a lot of pain and illness, much of it related to opioid addiction. When he responds to call, his job is to provide care and transportation on the way to the hospital. He's not there to judge.
Lisa Curtin: My Mom

Lisa Curtin: My Mom


In the late 1990s, Lisa Curtin's mother read about a new drug called Oxycontin, and then nothing was ever the same for Lisa or her family.
Jenny Beetz loved how heroin made her feel, but she appreciates the stability of her life without it.
Bob Nicklas: A Lucky Man by Drug Stories Project
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