Families Against Narcotics Aims at Providing Support for Addicts and Families
- Category: News
- Written by Paul Onart
Families Against Narcotics (FAN) came into existence in 2007 at a town hall meeting in Fraser, Michigan. The small, suburban middle-class community experienced 30 heroin overdoses that year alone. Two teen heroin overdoses were ultimately the catalyst which ignited this determined organization in their mission to save lives, to prevent addiction—and to eradicate it.
FAN envisions a nation free of narcotic addiction. The organization focuses on raising awareness of prescription narcotic dangers; supporting individuals affected by addiction to narcotics; and erasing the stigma of addiction.
The first meeting was held in the basement of a small Fraser church. Nearly 100 people attended, including religious leaders, law enforcement, and concerned citizens. Also in attendance were grieving families, and several young people in recovery.
Common to them all were questions. Why was heroin abuse and overdose occurring in the community of Fraser? Why were good kids from good families abusing heroin? And how could it be stopped?
The questions yielded few good answers, but some in attendance offered hope—the hope that as young addicts maybe their personal stories shared with students would cause them to listen. It was that hope that launched FAN.
FAN began by speaking with Fraser High School students. They continue to speak, and to reach out to others with their stories. They are the stories of real people, and the real consequences of addiction.
As the overdose stories unfolded over the many months, FAN learned that most of the young people battling heroin started their descent into narcotic addiction with prescription painkillers. Percocet, Oxycontin, Vicodin, all opiate-based drugs—just like heroin.
Support for Addicts
A recent FAN meeting held at a Flint, Michigan church in Genesee County featured a former addict, Billy Pfeiffer, sharing his message with other addicts and their families—that they are not in a helpless situation. He told those in attendance about the social stigma and embarrassment within communities and society regarding addicts—often bringing shame to families.
Pfeiffer says that support is needed in order to help. He shared that the gathering in the church was a support group, coming together. The building-up of the support community follows, he said. And that was his purpose in speaking to those in attendance—so they would understand the situation is not hopeless.
A native of Genesse County, Pfieffer told of his 20-year addiction struggle, clearly painting a realistic picture of an addict’s mindset for fellow addicts and families in attendance.
Pfeiffer got sober on November 11th, 2004. He found God, and he found his mission to help others make it out of the destruction of addiction by sharing his story. Addiction, he says, is the nastiest and coldest place a person could imagine; and it is cunning, powerful and baffling. He tells the crowd that addicts hurt those who care about them the most—without even realizing they are doing so.
FAN seeks to change the face of addiction and its social stigma through education. The organization seeks to inform communities and raise awareness of the increasing problem of prescription drug use amongst all age groups. Today, not even senior citizens escape its risk of addiction, as the Boomer generation ages.
Since its inception a few years ago, FAN has presented its Real People Sharing Real Stories in more than two dozen school districts, reaching thousands of students. FAN speakers have traveled to share their stories to more than 30 Michigan communities, and spoken at more than 50 conferences. Their message reaches young people in recovery, parents affected by addiction, and parents who have lost loved ones.
In addition to presentations to students in schools, FAN speakers are available for business and health organizations, community events, TV, cable and radio shows, and conferences.
At every venue, the fundamental message is an address to the prescription drug abuse epidemic in our society, and the potential of prescription drug abuse to lead to illegal narcotic use. At the same time, FAN provides easy-to-implement solutions designed to protect local communities.