Sunday, January 29, 2017

Press Release: News From “The Addict’s Mom”

TAM Moms Making a Difference

Barbara Theodosiou is pleased to introduce a group of incredible TAM moms: Janice’ Wright Collier, Lori Vietri-Snyder, Connie Koprowicz, Jeannie Mintz Turner, Denise Mills-Williams, Noreen Beck and Beth Hines Donnelly Foster, all from the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina.

A TAM member since the fall of 2014, Janice’ tells us that there are NO male/female in-patient treatment centers in Horry County, South Carolina. She reports that the heroin epidemic is just horrible in her county. Since joining “The Addict’s Mom,” Janice’ says that “my life has been changed forever.”

Founded 10 years ago by Barbara Theodosiou and her son Daniel, a gifted young man who who battled the Co-Occurring Disorders of Mental Illness and Substance Use, “The Addict’s Mom” unites heart-broken mothers and offers them a forum to “Share Without Shame” their sorrows, struggles, and victories in the battle for the lives of their children who are in the grip of addiction. Tragically, Daniel died in the Spring of 2015 at the tender age of 23. Barbara is determined to continue the work of TAM in his name so that “his short, tragic life was not lived in vain. I want Daniel’s life to have meaning.”

Since TAM’s inception at Barbara’s kitchen table, members not only support each other, but they educate, advocate, and meet with policy makers to implement reforms in the justice system, the mental health system, and the insurance industry. TAM is also helping to reduce the stigma of addiction, while raising awareness of the drug crisis currently raging across our great nation.

In September, in conjunction with SAMHSA, volunteer TAM members host annual “Lights Of Hope” events, during which they light candles to commemorate their children lost to addiction, whether they are in recovery, on the streets, incarcerated, or deceased. In 2016, TAM volunteers hosted 100 LOH ceremonies!

Janice’ and a group of volunteer TAM moms from the South Carolina chapter decided to host a Lights of Hope ceremony in September of 2016. These moms are amazing, planning their event in only 4 days! Many people from the community attended, including reporters from the local media who covered the event live. Speakers represented sectors from the community: law enforcement, recovery, EMS, and a physician from FAVOR (Faces and Voices Of Recovery.) The TAM moms also spoke to the crowd!

After the LOH event, Officer Chris White of the Drug Enforcement Unit for Horry County invited Janice’ to attend a meeting of the Myrtle Beach Heroin Coalition, and speak to the coalition attendees to educate them about TAM. With a wish to help others, Janice’ surprised herself when she was able to speak for the first time in public. Also, Janice’ and TAM were featured on her local television news!

Another TAM mom, Noreen Beck, attended a coalition meeting with Janice’. The ladies spoke with several police officers who asked them to join an education committee in order to raise public awareness, and host prevention programs for young people. Who is better than a group of mothers of addicted children to convey the message of the devastation that addiction has on our families?

Janice’ states that when she, Jeannie and Denise met with several police officers who serve on the coalition, “I think we had a breakthrough when we spoke about the love we have for our kids, that the people they see and arrest over and over have moms who love them. I told them that our children CAN recover and two of our small group have kids in recovery right now.”

In addition, “The Addict’s Mom” is now featured on the coalition website!

These TAM warrior moms now meet regularly with their local police. Also, they are already discussing their 2017 “Lights of Hope” campaign, planning for it to be “bigger and better!”

When she founded TAM, Barbara Theodosiou could never have imagined that the impact of “The Addict’s Mom” would be so far-reaching! Beginning with a few moms who did not use their real names when sharing, TAM is now 85,000 strong, with 65 websites and a chapter in every state. TAM is awarded, published in scientific journals, and has published a book for and about grandparents who are raising their own grandchildren. TAM moms march in Washington, and proudly display a volunteer-made quilt depicting our lost children.

For these grass-roots efforts in effecting significant change in the field of addiction, Barbara Theodosiou and “The Addict’s Mom” are recipients of the White House Champion of Change award!

TAM moms are speaking OUT, they are speaking UP, and they are speaking FOR their children who are battling the disease of addiction!

Like a pebble thrown in a pond, creating a ripple across the water, TAM moms are creating significant reforms nationwide and elevating the formerly taboo topic of addiction to public awareness!!

Thank You Myrtle Beach moms!

Meet the extraordinary members of TEAM TAM Myrtle Beach:

Janice’ Wright Collier is a Medical Transcriptionist who found TAM in the fall of 2014 after telling her co-worker, a TAM member, about drug problems with her son. Janice’ states that “TAM is a Godsend.” She never feels alone and enjoys the support she receives as she struggles with her son’s addiction. Janice’ admits to enabling him in the past, but later realized that she could not control his actions. She tells us that, “one day at a time and just for today, my son has almost 23 months clean from heroin.” Since joining TAM, Janice’ states, “my life has been changed forever since then.”

Janice’ and the other TAM members who met during their “Lights of Hope” planning in 2016, are continuing their advocacy work. Bonded by tragedy, these members have found tremendous support and understanding in their friendship. Janice says, “had it not been for TAM, I would be alone in my suffering and would not have the wonderful friendships I have today. Thank you, Barb, for founding TAM!!! It is truly a life-saver for us Moms!!”

Denise Mills-Williams found TAM 2 years ago on the Internet. She is a nationally certified Surgical Technologist. Denise has been coping with her son’s addiction for 16 years. She and her husband are also raising the two young sons of her niece. Denise is disabled with a diagnosis of MS.

Beth Hines Donnelly found TAM on May 16, 2016, through the Internet. She was seeking information about heroin addiction because of her daughter. Beth is a Special Education teacher who enjoys crafts and painting. She is a volunteer with the Special Olympics, and now volunteers to help other families of addicted children. Denise is happy to report that after 5 years of drug use, her daughter is currently in recovery.

Jeannie Mintz Turner found TAM in January of 2016 after an Internet search. Jeannie has been struggling with her daughter’s addiction for 19 years, with a 10 year recovery period that ended with relapse. Currently, her daughter is in recovery. Jeannie is an advocate for victims of domestic violence. She started a Nar-Anon group in her town. When she met other TAM moms, she became involved with the “Lights of Hope” event. Jeannie reports that she loves to help other families who are struggling.

Connie Koprowicz has been a TAM member for 2 years. Connie made the very difficult choice to move to South Carolina from the western U.S.A. to protect her daughter from her 18 and 20 year old sons who were using drugs. Connie states, “they had their dad nearby but otherwise they had to find their way. And eventually they did.” Today, Connie holds a Masters Degree in addiction and recovery. She found TAM online when searching for a support group for mothers of addicts. Connie has met a lot of moms, made friends, and gained support through TAM. Her sons have been in recovery for several years. Connie shares with us, “it's always one day at a time. I work my recovery in part through TAM, in part through my work, and by learning to live a healthy, fun life despite the role that drugs have played in our family.”

Noreen Beck lost a child to the disease of addiction. She is in disbelief that her middle son began using heroin after losing his brother. She immediately set boundaries and expectations, and he is currently in a fragile recovery. Noreen became active in her community; she regularly speaks at community meetings, and gives interviews to local news reporters. Noreen was the first person to address the heroin crisis in her town. She joined TAM in 2016 at the request of TAM mom Janice’. Noreen tells us that “I met a wonderful group of mothers who support each other and advocate to remove the shame and stigma of this disease which keeps so many of our children from asking for help.”

Advocating for those suffering from addiction is now Noreen’s passion. She and the other TAM moms are asking their community to open a detox and treatment center. They currently have none! Noreen states “my wish is that no addict seeking recovery dies of this disease, and that no other mother loses her child from addiction.”

Barbara wishes to thank each and every one of these amazing and dedicated members. It is through their efforts, and the efforts of all TAM members, that fellow Americans will help us in this deadly battle that is stealing our children!

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