Monday, September 24, 2012

2012 candlelight vigil: Lisa Murphy's opening comments


Lisa Murphy organized Parents Supporting Parents, a support group for parents of children with drug and alcohol addictions. PSP has chapters in Mashpee and South Yarmouth and meets weekly. Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parents-Supporting-Parents/186663034743781.

Lisa also organized the candlelight vigil, which was held on the Hyannis Village Green. Here are her opening remarks:

Parents Supporting Parents and the Aids Support Group of Cape Cod would like to welcome you to the 2nd Annual Cape Cod Candlelight Vigil.

The banner that is to the left of me that reads “Mourning the Loss” held 102 names of those family members who are not here with us today due to the disease of addiction that ultimately took their lives. Many more of our loved ones’ names have been added. Their names are a representation and a celebration of the lives they once shared with us. Through this banner, cards, letters, and the memories of happier days, they continue to speak to us and through us. We are here today to remember them. Janis McCrory, a parent and Harwich High School teacher will share her and her daughter Liz’s life with us.

“Supporting families” is also included in our banner. The Parents Supporting Parents group mission statement is: We’ve come together as parents and family members coping/dealing with our child/loved ones’ addictions. Our mission is to support, strengthen, and educate ourselves, as well as each other, as we share our lives. Our goal is to help our children find recovery and for all to live healthy lifestyles.

My name is Lisa Murphy. I formed the Parents Supporting Parents group after my siblings, mother and I suffered the ultimate loss in our lives, our sister Sherry to drug addiction, years later my young family and I would again be thrown into the trenches of our own daughters’ addiction. Thankfully, today we celebrate her recovery.  It was at that time I saw the need to help another parent. No one understands best the life a parent lives when their child is addicted to opiates, except for another parent who has been there. Our first group formed in 2010. Every Monday night at 6:30, we meet at the Mashpee Senior Center. This past year we formed a second group that also meets each Monday at 6:30 at the South Yarmouth Senior Center. We’ve called upon Linda Decker from the ASGCC to train parents in the use of Narcan, and in doing so one of our parents was able to save her son’s life after administering 2 doses. If not for Linda and the ASGCC, we may have been telling you a far different story.

Parents who find our group often come in the doors feeling hopeless, by the end of their first meeting, they begin to have hope. They have begun to find their own recovery, giving strength and support to one another is what PSP does. Recently, we met a parent who came to her first PSP meeting, holding our flyer in her hand. She said, “I’m not sure why I’m here, but my son said I need to come here and learn what enabling means, so I’m here”. This mom has continued to come and takes notes. We all were amazed one night when she spoke of being able to make decisions that she could not have made not very long ago. The growth in her was amazing and we were all overcome with joy to be part of it. This is an example of the strength and empowerment that these parents give one another.

We have requested many speakers and they cordially accepted. Shortly, you will hear from two very important men who have helped to combat the prescription abuse wave in two very different ways. Mass. State Representative Randy Hunt is one of them. Rep. Hunt is the voice for so many here on Cape Cod. He has been very busy at the statehouse, advocating on our behalf. The other is Dr. Robert Friedman, who is one of the most amazing doctors we have ever met. Dr. Friedman treats many young people in addiction, with the belief that family members are and should be included in part of the recovery process. We don’t know of any other doctor who freely hands out his cell phone number to patients and family members. To our amazement, he answers his own phone 7days/wk at any given hour.

Lastly, on our banner, we want to acknowledge those seeking recovery, and celebrate those who have found recovery. It is your commitment to yourselves and your efforts that have helped our children to find recovery with you. Often times many of these programs are anonymous and, without jeopardizing who you are, we want you to know that the support you give to one another is powerful, and has made a difference in the lives of so many, including many of our children.  We also want to acknowledge Ray Tomasi and the staff at Gosnold, our sober houses, and many of the organizations who are dedicated and committed to our families seeking help. We humbly thank you.

I want to share some thoughts with the students here today. A man by the name of Rick, who was one of the first members of the Parents Supporting Parents group, passed away last year. Rick believed that not enough education and reinforcement of the dangers of drug abuse are available to you students, that making a not-well-thought out decision could potentially lead you to the road of addiction. One of the last wishes he shared with his wife was to make a donation to the PSP group in hopes that we would utilize that to educate all of you. We hope this will do just that for you. Rick’s wish was our goal. We have answered his request.

In closing, I want to tell you about a mom who came to our group with a heartbreaking story that, for many of us, we hadn’t even considered, until we met her. As she kissed her son goodbye, not knowing if she would ever see him again, she remained hopeful that her son would come home alive. Her young son had enlisted in the service, a graduate from one of our high schools on Cape Cod. He had many friends through the years, a very intelligent young man, with goals and dreams of, one day, coming home and enrolling in college. Her son returned home, injured. His mom was very excited to have her son home safe - home alive. What mom didn’t expect was that her son would come home addicted to drugs. His hopes and dreams had all but slowly diminished. Mom would later say, “I left my son at the airport, proud of him. I went to pick my son up at the airport and greeted an addict.” We know of many of these young men and women who are struggling with addiction. They have already fought the war to change others’ lives for the better and now face the struggle to save their own lives. We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank you.

2012 candlelight vigil: Janis McGrory speaks about her daughter's addiction

On September 23, 2012 at the 2nd Annual Cape Cod Candlelight Vigil, Janis McGrory shared the tragic story of her daughter's struggle with drug addiction.

Liz’s Journey

Good evening.

My name is Janis McGrory.

We are all here at this vigil tonight because all of you have either lost someone to drug addiction or know of someone who is suffering from addiction.  We all share this pain but we are gathered here to comfort each other.  This comforts me to be here.

We are also here to offer HOPE to those suffering and HOPE to their families who suffer along with them.

My daughter Elizabeth LeFort died last year of a drug overdose.  She was 23 years old. She was killed…..by drugs.   She was killed.

I will tell you about Liz. I know this will sound familiar to you because we all travel that same road with addiction.  We walk together in this journey.

Liz was brought up in Hanson and attended Whitman Hanson HS.  She was an honor student, a cheerleader, a youth cheerleader coach, a dancer, a gymnast, a soccer and basketball player.  She had a great group of friends.  Liz was on the National Honor Society and she graduated 10th in her high school class.  Upon graduation, she was awarded a scholarship to college.

She was a loving daughter…..kind, considerate, thoughtful. She had it all….beauty, talent, smarts….a bright future.  She mattered to her family and to her friends.

 Her drug journey started 7 years ago while a junior in high school.

For two years she kept her drug use hidden.  First signs of trouble….an arrest at a hockey game for possession, later followed by a trip to the ER for cocaine use.  She went to a drug treatment center and returned to high school.  Problem solved right?? Kids dabble in drugs, get caught and punished, learn a lesson from their mistakes and move on in life.  I knew my daughter and she was raised with “the drug talk”.  We openly discussed the dangers and Liz understood the risks.  I THOUGHT!!

Her behavior improved for awhile but then she relapsed.  Back into a program she went.  Soon after she graduated from high school, a friend of Liz’s contacted us and said she was worried that Liz was shooting heroin….HEROIN???
 
I was terrified…..my daughter putting a needle in her arm??  That only happened in the big cities,,,,to kids who did not have a caring family…not someone like my daughter.  But my daughter had NOT ONLY graduated from high school, but she had graduated from using oxys and cocaine, to shooting heroin.
I sectioned her….she went into a holding/detox tank for 30 days. 

I delayed Liz’s college start for 3 months until she became drug free.  She was tested regularly….again I hoped she learned her lesson.  Off to college she went to fulfill her dreams.  She even made Deans List while there.  Little did I know she continued using drugs.  She could not stop.  Looking back, I had no idea what I was dealing with, what she was dealing with.  I did not understand ADDICTION.

Liz returned home that summer, along with drugs, followed by detox centers and programs, another section, court which eventually led to prison and probation.  This cycle continued on and off for the next 6 years.

Liz attended programs in Hopkinton, Westborough, Foxboro, Lynn, New Bedford, Fall River, Boston, Amesbury, Brookline, Brockton, Georgetown, Haverhill, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Liz always did great in a program,  She had hopes and dreams and looked forward to the future when we could  spend Xmas together again and we could go to the beach together and  talk nightly over dinner.    We had hopes.   She had hopes.  But every time she got out, she relapsed and the cycle would start over.

Her journey also included loss of a boyfriend from an overdose, car accidents and broken limbs, multiple overdoses and trips to hospitals.  It continued to abusing other prescription drugs as well.   But Liz never gave up trying….never did until her dying day.

 My hope never faltered….my daughter could beat this.  She was the most self disciplined, hard working person I knew.  She would reach her bottom and THEN pull herself out.  But I did not know the depth of her addiction.  I did not know what to do to help her other than to encourage her and  support her in anyway I could….I loved her. 

My mantra became “I will hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.  This was my beautiful girl, my daughter and I could no longer protect her. , I had to rely on her to help herself…..I prayed for her to  reach “her bottom” so she could begin her recovery and find her way back home.

You see, Liz always thought that she could beat it….but IT, the drug, was bigger than she was.  The drug became more important to her than her family, than her love for her family.  It was more important than her health, her friends…..It  WAS bigger than her. 

Liz would say “I wish I never took that pill” referring to Oxycontin.  So Kids…..Make the right choice.  You are playing Russian Roulette when you play with drugs.  Don’t do it…because the chamber might be full and you will be on the road to addiction.  It happens that fast and without warning.  So I am warning you.

Make the right choice….your life depends on it.

I have talked to several student and parent group and I mention that
Kids unknowingly and innocently get hooked on drugs.  A student of mine told me last year, after she heard me speak, that after she had some minor surgery that the Doctor wrote her a pain prescription.  My student asked “Is this a narcotic”??  He answered Yes….and she said, I don’t want them.  I was so so proud of her and her decision !!    So Parents  BEWARE of what Docs are giving your children….whatever happened to Tylenol??

I really didn’t know much about drugs available to kids today in the school….furthermore I knew my daughter would never do them.  Oxycontin I knew nothing about.  I never heard of it, I never knew how addictive it was.  I did not understand the true meaning of ADDICTION.  Oxy was a medicine prescribed by physicians right? How bad could that be. ?!!!

I was IGNORANT….with a Capital I .  HEROIN ??  That was a street drug, only people who lived on the street in big cities took that.  Who would ever dare take that drug??  I was so IGNORANT.

Drugs robbed Liz.  They robbed her of the life she deserved.    They robbed me the joy of watching my child grow and prosper.  Drugs stole my daughter away even before her death.  She was not my daughter most times.  I was usually talking to the drug not Liz.  They changed her personality, weakened her body to that of a 50 year old, weakened her mind and her spirit.

Liz died on January 6…..life will never be the same.

Her life mattered – to me, to her sister, to her relatives, to her friends, to society. It still matters.

A vigil by definition is a demonstration in support of a particular cause.  Our cause is not only to pray and offer support and guidance to those suffering, but to stop this madness.  We as parents need to be vigilant.  We know when our children are not acting right.  We know in our hearts that something is off even though we don’t want to accept to fact that our child might be trying drugs, after all, we taught them right??  They could not be so stupid.  But they are, and they will experiment and it is our job to make sure they don’t.  If they do, then we must be able to offer them help. 

You see, we parents are born with special gifts. Instinct and Intuition.  Moms especially are blessed with a strong intuition when it comes to our offspring.  DON’T DENY IT……use it.  If something does not feel right, trust your gut.  Act on your gut.  Trust your heart.

My Liz was an Addict.  Addicts don’t want to be addicts.  They made a bad choice in the past by taking a drug offered to them.  The word Addict should no longer bring to mind a derelict living on the street.   That was my vision 8 years ago.  We have to change that picture.  Look at this picture of my daughter……this is the picture of an addict today.  If it can happen to Liz, it can happen to anyone.  Liz once said to me, “Mom, I would rather have cancer”.  Addiction is a disease just like cancer and should be treated as such.  Do you know that if my daughter wanted help, she had to shoot up before a treatment facility would take her??  Really??  Do we shoot up cancer patients with more cancer to help them recover?  There is something very very very wrong about that process.  One which has to change !!  Addiction is an illness!

We have to hold vigil.  We have to protect.  We have to stop drugs from coming into this country, into our communities, into our school, into our homes.

We have to stop pharmaceuticals from knowingly producing highly highly addictive drugs like Oxycontin for the sake of making money and at the expense of our children.  We are all fighting back.  We have to.

We are at war with drugs.  We have to beat this war.  We cannot let the drug beat us and take our children.  The drug knows no boundaries, no town is spared, no socioeconomic status is spared, no school is spared.

Many people in the community are attacking the drug epidemic.  Lisa Murphy formed Parents Supporting Parents to support families of addicts.  That started at least    years ago with    members and now has     members.  Parents of middle schoolers are now attending these meeting.  Middle schoolers !!!!

My daughter, Amy, speaks to middle and high school students about making RIGHT CHOICES.

It takes a village. This village of the Cape.  Together, all of us.  We can make change.  We must make change.  We will make change.  It takes all of us…our community, the school, police, friends…all of us to watch…to be vigil.  This problem is way too huge to be silent…that would be a deadly silence.

 Liz and all others who have died because of drugs are here with us tonight in spirit.  She never gave up trying to beat the addiction and she whispers to me “Mom, don’t give up.  Keep trying”.  I will because she matters.  WE will win this battle.

The expression “undying love” has new meaning to me.  I loved my daughter from the moment she was born and I continue to love her while she is gone. Where there is love, there is hope. Love is powerful and the human spirit is remarkably strong. She lost the battle with drugs, but she would want me to continue the fight.  Liz says to me “Mom keep on trying, you can do it”.  She would want US to continue that fight.  And we, together, will win this battle.

In closing, this vigil tonight is a sign of making change.  It is an act of keeping watch of something….it is our children.  We need to do whatever we can to stop the drug and help our children.  It is a good thing. It is the right thing.  It is our only alternative.

By being here tonight, you are taking action.  We are comforting those struggling and praying for them and we are honoring those lost and praying for their families. By holding those candles, you are holding onto the light and bringing hope and promise of a bright future for those now struggling.  It brings ME great comfort and hope.

I thank you for having me tonight and I thank you all so much for coming.

2012 candlelight vigil: State Representative Randy Hunt's remarks

A group of individuals who have been affected by an opiate drug overdose met in Hyannis on the town green to remember those who died and those who continue to battle their addictions. Lisa Murphy, organizer of Parents Supporting Parents in Mashpee and South Yarmouth, led the candlelight vigil, called "Mourning the Loss, Supporting Families, and Celebrating Recovery."

Speakers included Dr. Robert Friedman from Gosnold Cape Cod, Janis McGrory, who lost her daughter last year from a drug overdose, Linda Decker, an instructor in administering Narcan, an overdose antidote, and Rachel Murphy, Lisa's daughter, who shared how her sister's addiction affected Rachel's teenage years.

I had the honor to deliver a message of a way forward, my most important objective for the next session of the legislature:

2012 Candlelight Vigil - A Way Forward 

I thank everyone who came out this evening to participate in this vigil.

To remember a loved one who lives with or who has died with an addiction.

To keep the scourge of drug addiction not only on the radar, but front and center in the minds of everyone in our community.

To educate others so that they may recognize symptoms of drug addiction early and seek help for their loved ones.

To call for more resources to be spent on prevention and treatment of addicted individuals.

To provide hope for those who have given up.

At the risk of interrupting the solemness of this vigil, I must take advantage of our collective attention on the issue at hand to frame the problem we're facing and list some of the measures we're taking to improve our chances in this fight against drug addiction.

This past February, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided two Florida CVS pharmacies for illegal distribution of opiate drugs. Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the DEA's Miami bureau, said at a press conference, that last year the two pharmacies, located only 5.5 miles apart in Sanford, Florida, ordered 3 million doses of the painkiller oxycodone. That compares to an national average of 69,000 doses per year per pharmacy.

Trouville said the pharmacies either knew, or should have known, that a large number of the prescriptions filled were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose. Red flags the pharmacies should have recognized included misspelled drug names, irregular dosing instructions, and phony telephone numbers on prescriptions.

In some instances, four or five people dropped off identical prescriptions from the same doctor at the same time, paid for by one person.*

The distributor of these oxycodone pills, Cardinal Health Incorporated, had its license suspended by the DEA a day before the pharmacy raids. Cardinal immediately obtained an injunction from a judge, reversing the license suspension and allowing their facility in Lakeville, Florida to resume shipments.

CVS Caremark Corporation said in a press release that it was "disappointed" in the DEA's action.

Disappointed?

Disappointed?

What else can a manager of the Cardinal Health distribution facility or one of these CVS pharmacies be thinking is going on, besides the obvious truth?

Two months later, the DEA searched six Walgreen's pharmacies and a distribution center, all in Florida, looking for evidence of more illegal distribution of opiate drugs. One of the Walgreen's stores had sold 80,000 oxycodone tablets in 2009, but in 2011 sold 1.7 million pills. Another of its pharmacy's sales jumped from 96,000 to 2.1 million.**

We know what's going on here.

The DEA knows what's going on here.

CVS and Walgreens know what's going on here.

The pharmaceutical companies know what's going on here.

These millions of pills are heading right up Interstate 95 from Florida on their way to every city on the Atlantic seaboard and into New England. Onto Cape Cod. Onto Main Street in Hyannis and every other Main Street in the fifteen towns of Barnstable County.

Some prescribers of pain medications are only now waking up to the fact that thousands of addicted persons here on Cape Cod got their start in a safe and professional health care services office.

A physician who didn't consider that too large a prescription of a highly addictive opioid drug could be the difference between adequate pain control and the beginning of an addiction.

An oral surgeon who failed to emphasis the danger of addiction to a teenager's parent after the removal of a wisdom tooth.

The average person assumes the safety of prescription drugs.

This is the backdrop that we worked with in developing Senate bill 2125, the prescription drug abuse bill that passed and was signed into law by the governor in August.

As the DEA continues to crack down on the Florida pill mills, there is a surge of people attempting to skip around the Interstate 95 pipeline by bringing forged and fraudulent prescriptions directly to Massachusetts pharmacies. Senate 2125 prohibits the filling of prescriptions for opiate drugs coming from outside the contiguous states to Massachusetts and the state of Maine.

Senate 2125 also requires the use of tamper resistant prescription pads, which are already in use for all Medicare and Medicaid patients.

For prescribers of opiate drugs, there is the requirement that they register in the Prescription Monitoring Program over the next three years and begin to consult the PMP database when accepting a new patient in order to curtail doctor shopping.

Also for prescribers, patients, court personnel, and others, there is a strong educational component aimed at raising the awareness of these drugs and their propensity to trigger addictive behaviors.

Between this bill and the repeat violent criminal legislation, also known as Melissa's Bill, we recognized the value of adding Good Samaritan protections for people reporting overdoses and of making Narcan, an overdosing antidote, more available.

Where do we go from here?

We must break the current paradigm and start focusing our efforts and resources on prevention and treatment. Massachusetts should take a look at "tough on crime" Texas to see what this shift in focus can do.

In 2005, Texas began reforming drug sentencing and shifting money to drug rehabilitation and prevention programs, which has saved the state billions of dollars and reduced crime, according to the Washington Post. Such reforms have earned the praise of unlikely bedfellows: NAACP President Ben Jealous and conservative activist Grover Norquist. The NAACP argues that sending people to jail for nonviolent drug offenses turns young people into hardened criminals and disproportionately affects black people, while Norquist argues that states waste taxpayer money locking up people who could be rehabilitated more cost-effectively.**

In August of last year, the Texas governor announced that the state would, for the first time in its history, close down a prison due to a reduced prison population and the lowest crime rate since 1973.

Currently, out of all the money spent in Massachusetts dealing with drug and alcohol abuse--for local, county and state police, for the court system, for the prison system, for the parole system--only 2 cents out of a dollar is spent on prevention and treatment.

Two cents.

Every dollar spent on effective treatment programs saves five to seven dollars spent on law enforcement, courts and prisons, according to a number of studies conducted over the last twenty years.

This is the direction we need to go.

And this is my message to you tonight.

Help me and all of your legislators convince leadership in both parties that the priority must shift from punishment to treatment for nonviolent drug offenders.

We can turn the corner on drug and alcohol addiction with the efforts of everyone here and the thousands like you across the commonwealth.

Thank you.



* DEA raids 2 CVS pharmacies in drug abuse probe - Reuters, February 6, 2012

** DEA Continues Corporate Responsibility Drive - Jesse C. Vivian, RPh, JD,, May 22, 2012

*** DEA raids 2 CVS pharmacies in drug abuse probe - Yahoo News - Liz Goodwin, August 3, 2011

Friday, September 21, 2012

11th Annual Capt. Gerald F. DeConto 5K Run-Walk

See my interview below with Dave DeConto about the 11th Annual Captain Gerald F. DeConto, USN, Memorial Scholarship 5K Run-Walk taking place in Sandwich on Sunday, September 23, 2012.

Preregistration is from 9am to 5pm on Saturday, September 22, 2012 at the Super Stop 'n' Shop Plaza on Route 6A at Merchant Road in Sandwich. Day-of-race registration begins at 7:30am at the race starting point (Route 6A at Jarves Street in Sandwich - Russell's Corner).

Complete information and registration form is available at: http://www.geralddeconto5k.com