With opioid addiction and overdose numbers at an all-time high throughout Carroll County and Maryland, drug addiction treatment is in high demand. With addicts needing treatment, comes a need for financial assistance to help those who many not have insurance, or who may need help with insurance co-pays. By the time that most users decide to ask for help, they have already drained their bank accounts, and have used up all of the resources they’ve had at their disposal while getting high. Not many are in the position to put up money to get into treatment or aftercare (such as sober living), and most of the time their family members are not able to help either. This is where Push H.O.PE. Project comes into play.
After organizing The Addiction and Recovery Awareness MusicFest, which benefited Rising Above Addiction, our partnership organization, I decided to start up my own nonprofit as I realized how much I enjoy helping other people in the community by raising awareness about an issue with which I've struggled for many years. The event had much success, we had well over 600 people in attendance and raised more than $6,000 to help get people into drug addiction treatment.
I myself am a recovering addict, now coming up on a year clean and sober. I choose to dedicate my life and spare time to help others who struggling with addiction. Whether that be by using my voice and my story to help others see the light, or to help the younger generation not make the same mistakes I did and go down the same road of pain and self-destruction. Which brings me to the second objective for Push H.O.P.E. Project and my main vision for the foundation.
A 2005 graduate of Westminster High School, I sat through programs such as Just Say No, D.A.R.E. and Heroin Kills. Most of these programs talked about the dangers of drug use, with much emphasis on the drug heroin. I never saw myself going down that road or ever trying a drug such as that one, it seemed so far from me. I come from a middle-upper class family, born and raised in Carroll County, playing sports growing up and throughout high school. I was brought up with good morals, ethics. I knew right from wrong. I had dreams and aspirations. I wanted to do something positive and productive with my life. The reason prevention is so important to battling this opioid epidemic, is because they didn't tell us about the dangers of prescription medication or the progression of drug abuse and addiction. We have to stop it before it even starts.
My story is one of progression. Throughout high school I experimented with marijuana and alcohol, as many teens do — but I always said no to the harder drugs. It wasn't until an accident, where my spleen was ruptured, that I was introduced to narcotic pain medication by a doctor. I ruptured my spleen and I was in Shock Trauma for nine days. When I left the hospital, I left with a prescription of Percocets and that's where it all started for me, just like so many others.
We must tackle this problem from all angles if we want to see a change. This includes law enforcement, public officials, recovering addicts, the court system, etc., coming together. This is a problem we cannot arrest our way out of, we have to work together. “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”
Jesse Tomlin is the founder/president of the Push H.O.P.E. Project. Reach him at email@example.com.