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Families In Vermont Educating The Public On Opiate Abuse

Programs all across the United States are popping up providing education to the public about the dangers of opiates.  When misused, Opiates can lead to a dangerous addiction that can easily consume your life. There are plenty of stories in the news papers and on television highlighting the epidemic of opiate abuse. Most of the news talks with addiction experts and medical doctors, but not too often do you receive an education from family members of addicts.

Laurey Burris of Shelburne, Vermont sat in the front of a classroom last week in Waterman Hall on the University of Vermont campus. She wasn't there as an “expert” on addiction, but rather as a mother. Burris lost her son, Zachary Aaron Collins Burris on October 25, 2013 to a heroin overdose. She spoke to the graduating class from the perspective of a family member and more importantly as a mother. She wanted them to understand the disease of addiction and that her son didn't die of an overdose but from loss of hope and shame.

Zachary had struggled with a drug addiction for years. He’d gone through various treatment programs, but he was never able to escape the power opiates had over him. She hopes that education will help remove the stigma of drug addiction felt by victims and their families. She’s created a fund in her son’s name to help provide money to families for drug abuse treatment.

The number of stories like Ms. Burris are growing rapidly around the country. It is such an important issue in our communities that if you do not know someone who has been addicted to opiates, you are the minority. It doesn't matter how large or small your town is or how well you were brought up.  Opiates do not care about your race or religion. If you experiment with them, they can easily take everything from you.

Most young teens know that heroin is bad. It is drilled into their heads in school, television, and movies. Our society understands that heroin can kill you and destroy your life but what our society is dead wrong on is the relaxed feeling towards prescription painkillers. Teenagers can go into their parents medicine cabinets and find old prescriptions from root canals or a sore muscles. Teens sees these drugs as less dangerous because their own parents have used them, and because they are prescribed from doctors. If your children knew you had heroin in your cabinet, they would be very worried about you and would want to know want is going on. That disconnect to prescription painkillers is a deadly issue in the United States right now.

More states need to form educational programs where recovering addicts, families of addicts and even active addicts themselves are willing to share their story to show society how serious this issue is. We do not need “This Is Your Brain On Drugs” commercials. We need to see the down and dirty truth of what these drugs are doing to our families, neighborhoods and communities.

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