When I was contacted by Edelman –the PR firm who represents the CHPA (Consumer Healthcare Products Association) and Five Moms– to attend meetings in Washington DC, it was a no-brainer for me as to whether or not I would say yes. (I would.) I have been in contact with the Five Moms organization since I first met them two and a half years ago. Seeing as it fell during Red Ribbon week in the month of October which also happens to be National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month and I happen to be a recovering addict, it all seemed to be fated to come together. When my daughter became so sick, I almost didn’t go. I almost missed the opportunity of a lifetime for myself. But she began to get better, my husband stepped up to offer support and I was able to go on this amazing journey to DC. I was able to see things, hear things and meet people who would quite literally change my life.
I cannot tell you how many times I have sat myself down in front of this computer to write about my visit to DC only to stare at the screen unable to find the any words to share what a wonderful experience I had. And then sometimes the words come rushing at me so fast I can’t seem to sort them out. Do I start by sharing the facts? Do I tell you first about the people I met or the things I learned? Should I share the informative nature of my trip or the deeply emotional level?
I realize I will never get to the informative part until I wade through the emotional part. And for me, there was very little about this trip that was not emotional.
As a recovering addict with 9 years, 7 months, and 18 days (but who’s counting) without falling back into my drugging ways, I take anything that has to do with drug abuse awareness seriously. The chance to go to DC to meet with a group of people as passionate about this as I am was beyond amazing. I knew I was going to go to DC with bloggers Caroline and Janice and meet with the Five Moms and that was enough to excite me. Then they threw in the president of Partnership for a Drug Free America and the passionate people at CHPA and I felt like I would jump out of my skin with anticipation. Do they stop there? No they let us know we will be meeting with Congressmen while the Five Moms and CHPA encourage them to learn more and make changes that are just “common sense” to laws regarding OTC medication. Could it get better for me?
I didn’t think so.
While I was literally crackling with the energy in the room that first night at dinner, they announced their special guest who would not only be joining us for dinner that night but would also be joining us on Capitol Hill the next morning. Dr. Drew Pinsky. That did it. That sent me over the edge into tears. Being the always demure and subtle person I am, I blurted out to the crowded room, “Shut! Up!”
Some people may not understand why I would react emotionally to meeting Dr. Drew in person. I have tried to come up with another analogy that may make some sense to people. I know many people know Dr. Drew and may recognize him from VH1’s Celebrity Rehab. I suppose it would be similar you being an actor and being able to sit down and talk with James Lipton of the Inside the Actor’s Studio. To have him zero in on something about you that is exactly the right thing at the right time that no one else has shared before but puts all the pieces of the puzzle together. He is a mentor, a supporter and someone you admire. Someone who “gets you” in a way “outsiders” just don’t. Okay, so it might be a bad analogy but it was the best I could come up with. (Janice jokingly compared it to a Christian meeting Billy Graham.) However you want to look at it is fine with me as long as you can grasp that it is not a celebrity thing. It is about an addict and a person who does amazing work with and in support of addicts.
In a night that I thought would simply be the kick off to an amazing trip to support the Five Moms and StopMedicineAbuse.org, it became something deeply personal. I am wrapping my mind around conversations I had that night and I will share them with you. I promise.
Right now, I want you to go visit StopMecineAbuse.org and familiarize yourself with it. I want you to meet the Five Moms and read their stories. I want you to go to CHPA and see what they do. Familiarize yourself with Partnership for a Drug Free America. Those are the ones this trip was really about. I will share with you what I learned– the facts about OTC medicine abuse that I learned from these amazing people I met and I will share the personal with you as well.
Because as much as I try, I cannot separate the two. In my life they are too tied together.