Mother’s Day: A Day of Action for Moms Working to End the War on Drugs

Press Release May 5, 2013
Media Contact

<p>Contact: Gretchen Burns Bergman 619-884-3561 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384</p>

Mothers from around the country are telling their personal stories of drug war damage with video stories, articles and interviews in honor of Mother’s Day. By sharing these powerful stories of losing loved ones to drug-prohibition-related violence, incarceration, overdose and addiction, they are bringing focus to a real need to reform our nation’s drug policies.  Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the war on drugs, including having children who suffer from addiction and who have been repeatedly incarcerated, or have died from preventable drug overdoses and other drug related problems.

Moms were the driving force in repealing alcohol prohibition in the 30’s and now Moms are playing a similar role in ending the war on drugs. Moms United launched a Moms & Cops partnership with LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) in 2012, and this year they are announcing a strategic partnership with doctors who believe it is time to speak up to change misguided social and public policy. Moms, Docs & Cops are coming together to demand science-based, compassionate health-oriented strategies that reduce the harm of drug use and addiction, rather than fanning the flames of stigma and discrimination with a failed war on drugs.

The following are links to some of the Moms stories:

Gretchen Burns Bergman

Lizzy Stewart

Denise Cullen

Julia Negron

“The war on drugs is really a war on families,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, Lead organizer of the Moms United to End the War on Drugs Campaign. “My two sons have addictive illness, so I have experienced not only the devastation of this life-threatening disease, but also the destruction of punitive policies and incarceration. It is past time to move from arrest and mass incarceration to therapeutic, health-oriented strategies. Mothers must speak out to end the drug war that is destroying the futures of our children.”

“My son was killed with a friend in a random crime committed by two juveniles involved in gang activity and illegal drug use. We all want safer communities, but the drug war has not made our communities safer, helped people with addiction, or saved lives,” said Joy Strickland, CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence. “The drug war has led to mass incarceration, gang violence, and an overdose epidemic. I am delighted to be part of a campaign focused on healing and ending forty years of a failed policy.”

“Current drug policies seem to me to be almost entirely focused on judging, punishing and shaming people who use drugs. This approach to drug use is not just failing to address our loved ones’ drug problems; it’s making them worse,” said Denise Cullen, Founder of Broken-No More. “My son was arrested several times; he was offered treatment once. When Jeff died, he was on a waiting list to enter court-ordered treatment. He never had to wait to go to jail because it was too full.”

“Too many people and their families are alone suffering a destructive course without treatment leading to homelessness, jail, illness, or death,” said Dr. Ken Khoury, a psychiatrist board certified in addiction. “Why? Poor treatment availability, well intended but wrong-headed punitive approaches, isolation through stigma and stereotype.”

Leaders of the campaign  include Gretchen Burns Bergman (San Diego, CA), the mother of two sons who have both struggled with heroin addiction and repeated incarceration and founder of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing); Denise Cullen (Palm Desert, CA), a social worker specializing in grief counseling, whose son died from an overdose almost four years ago; Joyce Rivera (New York, NY), mother who founded St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction and is the sister of an injection drug user who died of HIV/AIDS;  Joy Strickland (Dallas, Texas), CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence, whose son was killed by drug prohibition-related violence; and Yolande Cadore (New York, NY), a mom and director of strategic partners at the Drug Policy Alliance.

The Moms United campaign mission is to “end the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies. We are building a movement to stop the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs or who are addicted to drugs. We are urgently calling for health-oriented strategies and widespread drug policy reform in order to stop the irresponsible waste of dollars and resources, and the devastating loss of lives and liberty.”

Moms United to End the War on Drugs is a project of San Diego-based A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing), a 14-year old nonprofit organization that works to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness through education and compassionate support, and to advocate for therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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