When does it stop being a party and start becoming a problem? Is there a way to steer clear of addiction? Every Wednesday, Mike McGowan, host of the podcast "Avoiding the Addiction Affliction," explores substance use disorders with expert guests. The podcast series is sponsored by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition.
Original cover art created by
Kelly P. of Kenosha, Wisconsin
Michelle Kullmann and Erin Rachwal
Cade Reddington and Logan Rachwal are two of the more than 100,000 individuals who lost their lives last year to a synthetic opioid overdose in the United States. Their moms, Michelle Kullmann and Erin Rachwal, discuss their fight to bring awareness to this epidemic and their own personal battles with their grief due to their sons’ deadly fentanyl overdoses. If you or a loved one has a substance use disorder, help is available. Locally, resources can be found at 211 Wisconsin: https://211wisconsin.communityos.org. You can also find AA meetings here: https://mtg.area75.org/meetings.html?dist=7 and NA meetings here: https://namilwaukee.org/meetings/
[00:00:00] [Jaunty Music]
[00:00:12] Mike: Welcome everyone to Avoiding the Addiction Affliction, a series brought to you by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan. A while back, we had the opportunity to have a conversation with Michelle Kullmann about the tragic passing of her son, Cade Reddington. We wanted to follow that conversation up today.
[00:00:30] We're joined by Erin Rachwal who unfortunately has a very similar story about her son, Logan. Welcome ladies.
[00:00:37] Erin: Welcome. Thank you.
[00:00:38] Michelle: Welcome Mike.
[00:00:39] Mike: I'm glad you could be here, Michelle. I'll catch up with you in a second. But Erin, in February, I started the conversation with Michelle by asking her to tell us a little bit about Cade, could you tell us a little bit about Logan?
[00:00:50] Erin: Sure. Yeah. Um, so Logan, you know, I think Cade and Logan have a very similar but different story. I think the, the comparison that Michelle and I have done with the kids, you know, when they were younger and, and their, their brightness and their you know, their friendliness and their ability to attract people, you know, that was kind of Logan, in a nutshell, he was such a kind kid, uh, most kids that, you know, like to describe him now, even to me would say he was the kindest kid. He was just the sweetest kid. He was so, you know, he was like, I would meet him and I would know him right away, you know, is what kind of a kids would say. So Logan was a very sensitive kid. Um, As a boy, he loved to play baseball. He grew up in, you know, in select ball and, and, um, was really surrounded by a lot of family.
[00:01:35] Um, he was also, you know, the vulnerable kid, I would say, like, you know, he was kind of the one that felt left out quite a bit, uh, had some bullying issues early on. Uh, so as a early young kid, probably third, fourth grade, we were already wrestling with some difficult things he had been going through socially.
[00:01:53] I think he found such acceptance in our family. Cause we were very close that he kind of expected, I think the world to embrace him in the same way. And that always doesn't happen with kids. You know, these kids are often left out and, and Logan struggled with that. So, um, and he, he also went through quite a bit of loss, you know, as fourth grade he went through a few deaths, very significant deaths in our family.
[00:02:15] Um, tried to work through that thing, those things with him, but again, kind of a progressive with Logan, it was more a progressive, like we saw him struggle. We were getting him help me being in mental health. Obviously we were jumping on those things pretty quick. Um, and so, but you know, always just really wanted to be liked. I think that's a big part of his story. He just wanted acceptance.
[00:02:37] Mike: Well, and tragically. He, he ended up at UWM, right. University Wisconsin Milwaukee, and passed away from a fentanyl overdose.
[00:02:47] Erin: Correct.
[00:02:48] Mike: That sound familiar, Michelle?
[00:02:50] Michelle: Yes, it does.
[00:02:52] Mike: I mean, we, I, I think I remember from our conversation, Michelle, that you were told by the university, that Cade was the only person that they had ever had, had that happen to them.
[00:03:02] Michelle: Um, if I remember the words correctly, I, I had asked specifically, how many overdose deaths have you had on this campus in the last year? And I was told that Cade was the first, this year,
[00:03:16] Mike: Which wasn't true.
[00:03:17] Michelle: It was not true.
[00:03:19] Mike: Well, how did you ladies find each other?
[00:03:22] Erin: So, um, by the grace of God, really, truly weird. My husband was just scrolling one night through Facebook and through somebody on our, his Facebook feed. He saw Michelle a post. I don't even know what post, um, about her losing a son. I did not know where she lived other than she was in Wisconsin. I didn't know any details about her, but I just, because I had had people reach out to me, you know, when I went through the death and still contact me, I thought, well, I have to be that one to, to reach out to her.
[00:03:51] So I did immediately that night I was messaging her like, you know, who I was and I had lost a child. Again, the UWM connection did not come into our conversation until we actually were on the phone, I think within a day or so, and started comparing stories. And she was, you know, was asking her what happened and.
[00:04:09] All of a sudden, she said, you know, UWM and I'm like, wait, he, you know, he went to UWM. And so we, you know, we just same dorm. Wow. Like they ended up, we ended up finding out that night on the phone, they lived in the same dorm. They were both freshmen, but it was a year apart. Cause Logan was obviously already gone. Um, but they had literally lived in the same dorm building.
[00:04:30] Michelle: Yeah. Nine months later. And it was the same calendar year. So Logan. Passed on February 14th and Cade was November 4th.
[00:04:40] Mike: You know, there's a, an extensive story in the New York Times. I'm certain, both of you saw that, right?
[00:04:47] Michelle: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:47] Mike: That talked about fentanyl and all of the fake drugs that are being sold, and it's really fentanyl. And I think Michelle, you shared with us, uh, uh, um, even, even though this is an audio podcast, a picture of the Percocet, right? Was it a Percocet?
[00:05:07] Michelle: Yeah, Cade thought he, we know that he came back that night and told a girl that he took a Percocet and felt yucky. And so my understanding, it was probably one of the M 30s that are, you know, just, um, infiltrated out on the streets.
[00:05:24] And they're just, they're fake. They're just fake pressed with, and his was 100% fentanyl. There was absolutely no oxycodone in his system.
[00:05:33] Erin: And, and the drug, the drug name for that is Perc 30. And that's the same pill Logan bought over Snapchat.
[00:05:39] Mike: I, I was just gonna say these deals are made via Snapchat oftentimes, right?
[00:05:44] Erin: Yep.
[00:05:44] Mike: I, I just had an officer on, um, as part of this series and he was saying that that's part of the connection. Are, are those folks at all, have you found them to be cooperative? Is it difficult to get to the bottom of this?
[00:06:00] Erin: Yeah, it's hard. It's, there's so many hoops that even police officers have to jump through to even get the records.
[00:06:06] Um, I, I actually have a friend who works, uh, for Spotify ironically. And so she's got contacts at Snapchat and I, you know, when this whole investigation of Logans was going on, we were. Trying to get into Snapchat, uh, to the corporate and, you know, like rush the case or whatever, but that didn't do much good, but all in all, basically in essence, and Michelle, you can kind of add on your, you know, your 2 cents on this too, but, um, it needs to be a, a very big investigation and, and they have to have a warrant and it takes three to four to five, maybe even longer now I'm not sure, but for Logan's case, it took about three or four months to get this the records, um, from Snapchat.
[00:06:47] And they are able to get quite a bit. Um, I think it's a, it's a double edged sword, so they're able to get a lot of records, but what they get is not like a transcript of who sent what to who they have to put puzzle pieces together and really, um, look at like for Logan, they had to look at all these messages and then try to tie up who sent what message. It doesn't, it doesn't give you just like a black and white, like, you know, transcript of who sent what to who. It does give messages, but it was not easy for the police to put it all together because they had so much evidence in Logan's case.
[00:07:21] It was pretty obvious who was sending which message. But if you were looking at a very vague case, without of lot of evidence, it would be hard, honestly, and Snapchat is not, they don't really like to give over the records. It's they make it very. Difficult. Very difficult.
[00:07:38] Mike: Not, not that this is the be all end all. But have they made an arrest or are they close in your case Erin?
[00:07:43] Erin: Yes. Uh, they, they did make an arrest. It is, uh, they, they have every single, I mean Logan's dorm room was locked when he passed. So he was alone. The positive in that is that everything was there, evidence wise, nothing was touched. He had, you know, his phone. Um, there were drugs found in the room. Um, lots of, you know, his computer, you know, I mean, everything was, I would, I guess now I'm able to say it was protected. You know, you go on a lot of scenes like this and people strip the phones. The, you know, stuff is gone. People are afraid of getting in trouble. So I guess in hindsight it was a good thing, but, um, as far as the arrest goes, the, the within, so Logan passed away on Valentine's day.
[00:08:25] They made an arrest on April 27th, which was very fast and we were very blessed to have that happen. Um, it was because it was just everything matched up. His phone was pinged at this guy's house. There were three girls from Logan's, uh, you know, hometown that took him to this house to buy these drugs. Um, there was so much compelling evidence.
[00:08:45] It was very crystal clear who it came from when it came from. And Logan was also on FaceTime when he took his last pill, which within, you know, five minutes or so he ended up snoring on the phone and that was him actually passing. The girlfriend did not know that they had been fighting. So, um, the arrest itself, they, they were not able to prosecute for homicide charges because there was about a 10 minute span between the time he was at the, the place where he bought the drugs.
[00:09:17] And then he went back to the dorm, but UWM has him on camera, coming out to a car. and, um, because he was in a car for 10 minutes in the front of the school. That's gives reasonable doubt that like, could it have come from the person in the car, even though the DA said, we know that's not where it came from.
[00:09:35] They said the, the, the, um, defense would pick that apart. So it ruined the homicide charges unfortunately, Logan being in contact with one other person. Um, however, the dealer 23 years old, um, is a very high, heavy dealer. His father's in prison. It's a, it's a very. Um, big, big, big, big guy, I guess. So they really went after him and HIDA got involved and they raided his house and, um, you know, they were able to send an informant in to get a search warrant and raid the house, arrest him.
[00:10:09] And he is, he is in for quite a while at the, the final, um, The hearing and all the sentencing has not happened yet. So I'm following the case with the victim witness program in Milwaukee. They've been really helpful with us. Um, but you know, he's been in jail since, since April 27th, last year. So over a year and they're holding him, he had a whole bunch of prior drug arrests and he was let out and let out and let out and let out, which is the problem.
[00:10:36] You know, that they're not nipping this in the bud with people. So. You know, I'm grateful, you know, unfortunately they couldn't do the prosecutor with the homicide charges. They're the hardest cases to, to, to charge Mike. They're just, you know, as I Michelle's experiencing the, this, this whole thing with her case, it's just, there's such a lack of, for you.
[00:10:58] There's a lack of effort, I think, on, on, you know, cuz it's, oh, it's another overdose. There's the stigma. It's another overdose. So, you know, especially in Milwaukee, it's like, there's so many, so a lot of them just kind of like get moved on, you know, um,
[00:11:14] Mike: Michelle, you didn't get as far, right?
[00:11:16] Michelle: Cade's case, you know, it's only been seven months, so Cade's case is still active. Um, so I probably can't comment too much on it, but, uh, I know with the whole Snapchat records, it took. At least four months from the time they were subpoenaed to turn the records over, which was highly frustrating, especially cuz during that time was when they did their big press release with the today show saying how hard they were working on this.
[00:11:43] And they were trying to get records turned around in two weeks and I was screaming and tweeting at the CEO saying, no, you're not why, why are my son's records not turned over? So, um, and the police are highly frustrated with Snapchat. And what I have found from Cade's records is that unless they saved it. Snapchat doesn't save that on their server. So they're having a tough time getting any decent evidence from Cade's Snapchat, um, because it disappears. So I think that that is a huge problem. Snapchat is such a hotbed for illicit activity because the information isn't backed up on their server. So, um, so that's really frustrating for the police because it makes it really difficult for them to create a case.
[00:12:32] Especially for like Erin was saying for a homicide charge because there's, there's not enough evidence there.
[00:12:39] I know they're still working on it. They're still doing interviews. Um, you know, they still have some people that they need to talk to. Um, I, I find it very doubtful if Logan's case was not charged with a homicide.
[00:12:55] I, I, I really have given up hope that Cade's is going to. But I think the most I can hope for is that maybe they are able to get somebody off the street like they did with Logan's case.
[00:13:08] Mike: You know, it's when you were on Michelle and every time I do something like this, people reach out to me and they say, they always say the same thing.
[00:13:16] What brave people they are. And the second comment is I don't think that I could do that. When we talked the last time, Michelle, you said you hadn't even had time to breathe yet.
[00:13:28] Michelle: Right.
[00:13:29] Mike: How are the two of you doing it? Taking care of yourself? Cause you're still enmeshed in this, so it's not like you put it behind you. It's still there almost on a daily basis.
[00:13:40] Erin: Yeah, it's definitely a sometimes minute by minute basis, you know? Um, Michelle and I talk about self care, you know, I think we both, you know, I, I don't wanna speak for her, but I do what I, what I see in her. I definitely see her taking some time, you know, to enjoy herself, enjoy her other son.
[00:13:57] That's so important. You know, because of the pain, um. For me, I, and I think you guys know this when we were planning, you know, the timing I take every Wednesday off ever since Logan's passed, I just kind of made it a pact because I'm a therapist. I work with people all day and I'm so busy. Um, so when I do work, I have 9, 10, sometimes 12 hour days where I.
[00:14:20] You know, on video with other people dealing with heavy stuff. And so that's a good thing for me because it's a distraction. I've also been able to really use what I've been through to help other people, not even in a, always a direct drug way, but like just what I've been through with trauma.
[00:14:38] Mike: Mm-hmm.
[00:14:39] Erin: You know, the response of trauma it's like when you go through it, it's like, you can definitely feel other people's trauma.
[00:14:47] Um, so that's helped. And then my Wednesdays are just kind of like my day.
[00:14:54] Mike: Yeah. Well, and, and this, this Wednesday, it's pouring rain outside, Erin. So this is, uh.
[00:15:00] Erin: Yeah. I, I often find, and I don't know how Michelle, you know, how you feel, but like I often find that days, like, like today on Wednesdays, I usually my hardest day, because I'm not distracted.
[00:15:10] Mike: Yeah.
[00:15:11] Erin: But it's okay.
[00:15:13] Mike: Yeah. Well it right. It has to be right.
[00:15:17] Erin: You have to go through it.
[00:15:18] Mike: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:19] Erin: Yeah.
[00:15:20] Mike: I was gonna say Michelle, Erin said helping other people going through this and you and I were talking off before we started this, this is the leading cause of death.
[00:15:31] Michelle: Yeah.
[00:15:31] Erin: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:32] Mike: I mean, 56,000 people last year. Right. Over a million over a million people have died of overdose since 1999. That's unbelievable.
[00:15:43] Michelle: Yeah. Well, and I think the, the figures, so now those numbers keep going up. So the CDC, every quarter releases these new figures for the number of deaths in the last year. So. Now the latest quarter, it was 107,000 overdose deaths in one year.
[00:16:01] And that number's gonna keep going up. And the thing is that they're not all overdose deaths. 70% of, I think it's like nationwide. It's like between 66 to 70% of those deaths are fentanyl poisonings. It's not people that are taking too much of something and accidentally overdosing. These are people that are taking. One, they think they're taking one thing, but they're getting fentanyl. So those are poisonings. Those are, those are homicides. Those people did not intend to take too much of a drug or make an accident by accidentally taking too much. They were given something they did not intend to take. They were killed.
[00:16:41] Erin: Agreed, perfect example to what Michelle's saying is that like, if you have a 16, 18 whatever year old kid, And they go and buy alcohol and they take a recommended amount, a one drink and they die from it because there was something in the drink. That's poisoning and it's murder.
[00:17:01] But with, with drugs, there's a stigma that the, the kids who are taking drugs are like the, the loser kids or, you know, they, that they shouldn't have taken the pill. But when you compare it to alcohol, alcohol, so would be sensitized in our society. But if a kid were to die from alcohol and it was poisoned, it would be murder and everybody would be a lot more accepting and pay attention to that.
[00:17:23] I mean, think about it. If we had like a community and 20 kids died from an alcohol poisoning over a party, that would be huge news. And people would pay attention to it because there's not the stigma with drinking. Those necessarily aren't the bad kids then. But I think when you talk about drugs, right, we're, we're talking about like how many years ago there was this stigma where you had to be shooting needles in your arms to die.
[00:17:47] And those were the people who were in their thirties, forties, whatever. This is different, you know, to go buy a powder, a fentanyl powder, poison, a drug like that is not common, but our society breeds kids to take pills. I mean, allergy pills, you know, Tylenol, you know, whatever it is, we take pills. That's just a very desensitized thing that these kids in their heads, when they're little are brought up with, we take antibiotics.
[00:18:16] If we're sick. So, you know, you have a friend at, you know, whatever age , like with Logan started at 14, 15 years old. You know, Cade had some struggles around those younger years, too. You, you know, kids with mental health, they're stressed or depressed, the phones, there's all this mental health stuff going on.
[00:18:34] Oh, take a pill you'll feel better. That's what I've done my whole life. If I've needed something else, that's kind of what is in their heads. So there's a desensitization going on and you know, our world needs to wake up to that cuz it's so critically important.
[00:18:48] Michelle: Mm-hmm.
[00:18:49] Mike: Um, and you know, I, I reached out to you and I know other groups have too.
[00:18:53] So how, what kind of response are you getting? Are there, I mean, both of your sons died in a college dorm, so are the colleges open. The high schools, um, other government agencies, Michelle you're nodding. No, [laugh] as, as I say that even.
[00:19:12] Erin: No, you go ahead and you can.
[00:19:13] Michelle: We worked. So we tried and tried with UW Milwaukee to work with them and encouraged them when to get posters up and. Push them to get the Narcan in the dorms and tell them we wanted to come and speak. And we hit roadblock after roadblock.
[00:19:29] Erin: I mean, right down to we designed posters and sent them. And finally, Michelle ended up getting them printed and said, we're just getting, 'em put up for you because just like do it already.
[00:19:40] If there would've been posters in that elevator because of Logan's death, if Cade would've seen posters in that elevator that night. Could he have seen it and gone, you know what, maybe I shouldn't take this or could his friend who was with him have said, Cade look, you know, I mean, that is, you know, again, back to like my mental health brain, cuz I, you know, I filter everything through that, you know, photographic memory for kids, they see something for three seconds.
[00:20:06] It could be with them for 10 years. So if they see fake pills all over campus on posters after Logan's death, if they would've responded with just that, I mean you could get posters up in a day. If you needed to, could that have saved his life or any other kid's life? That was our one, one of the, our biggest things that Michelle and I, you know, were, were really working on them with, cuz it was a simple, quick response.
[00:20:28] Like some of these other things take time to get like Narcan, like, which I think, you know, they've, they're doing as we're pushing. But my, my concern, you know, back when we talked with Tommy Thompson, which was what January or so?
[00:20:40] Michelle: January I think, yeah.
[00:20:41] Erin: Like, I was like, let's respond with some quick things and that would be an easy thing.
[00:20:45] And I don't think it was until April end of April. They finally got posters up.
[00:20:51] Michelle: Actually at UW Milwaukee, the posters went up the week the students were leaving.
[00:20:55] Erin: Right. May, first week of May. Yeah.
[00:20:57] Michelle: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. When they were done with school. So this is what I like to say, Mike, this is how I.
[00:21:03] The response that needs to happen now can change future stories. And this is how I think Cade's story could have been changed is after Logan passed, what if they, the school would've taken it seriously and said, we have a problem here. And then the DEA came out with their press release. At the end of September, about one pill can kill. What if they would've immediately responded and got posters up all over campus.
[00:21:26] Showing those fake pills. And say Cade was still reckless and took his pill? What if he would've come home that night? Same scenario found the girl they're riding in the elevator. And he says, I took a Percocet and I feel yucky. And she sees the poster and says, Cade, it could have fentanyl in it.
[00:21:42] And what if they had Narcan rescue kits like UW Oshkosh does. Theirs were installed the week Cade passed and they have had no overdose deaths on their campus. What UW Milwaukee said, we have a problem here. We're in the city. We're gonna get these in. She could have gone and gotten the Narcan and said, I am sitting with you and making sure you're okay.
[00:22:00] And she could have had overdose awareness training as an incoming freshman, and she could have saved his life, but they had no idea. Nobody's talking about fake pills on these campuses. Nobody's talking about overdose awareness training. The focus has all been on COVID and the old school problems on campus of alcohol.
[00:22:22] Um, they're not, they're they're, they have missed the opportunity to, to be, to make kids aware of this. And we're hoping, I guess that's what my hope is. Is that all this that we're working on will change that for future incoming classes. Yeah.
[00:22:35] Mike: Well we both, and, and just a very short two minute period of time, there listed about five, six, rather simple things that people and institutions can do.
[00:22:46] Erin: Yeah.
[00:22:47] Michelle: Mm-hmm.
[00:22:47] Mike: And it's not just colleges. It could also be high schools as well.
[00:22:51] Erin: And, and I even say, you know, with, with just knowing, I've done a lot of studies on brain work and, and all those things, I mean, really this really needs to start even younger. If we're gonna get efficient, I would say, you know, middle school at the, or at the latest middle school and it needs to be ongoing, not one program kids go through, this needs to be ongoing conversation.
[00:23:11] Through these years and the conversation needs to evolve and continue and deepen and strengthen as they get older and more, you know, their capacity, you know, to understand and comprehend. But these conversations need to start happening way younger. I mean, I talk to almost all my clients that are parents and are working with kids on some capacity, whether it's proactively or reactively, you know about, you've gotta get these conversations out there.
[00:23:36] You know, any kid who has any depression or any anxiety, which is a huge percentage of our population because of the phones. Um, they've gotta be talking about it. It's it has to be talked about because we've gotta fight that desensitization of the pills.
[00:23:52] Mike: You know, I'm certain, the two of you have heard this, I've heard it through my whole career.
[00:23:57] When, when you bring stuff like this up, people say, oh, no matter what we do, they're gonna do it anyway. It's just the way, you know, I'm, you're both nodding as we do this. And, and I I've been doing it long enough to, to say that's not true when we focus on something. When we talk about it, Erin as you just said, when we have conversations, The the, it just, it just works. It goes down.
[00:24:22] Erin: It does. I've. I mean...
[00:24:23] Mike: Stop talking about it. It goes right back up.
[00:24:25] Erin: It's a classic. Like if you put something in the dark it's gonna grow and if you bring it to light, you know, you bring it to light. It, it will, um, it will open up and it will save some people. Um, it, you know, my, my other son, Caden, who, uh, it was Logan's younger brother, just a year younger.
[00:24:43] Has been, you know, slowly, you know, cautiously, but slowly talking to his friends, you know, just with seeing some partying normal college partying first year. And he's had some very small successes of like, Hey guys, don't do that. Don't please don't take that. Cuz I mean, for him, it's a huge trigger to see anybody to put anything in their mouth because he knows it could kill you.
[00:25:05] So to see a really good friend do that is scary for him. And so, you know, he's talked about it and he's had some small successes where he's been able to call us from his campus and say, Hey, I. I was able to talk to, so and so, and they listened to my story about Logan and they've stopped this, or I've gotten some of them to stop vaping or, you know, so that's a great small example of one kid.
[00:25:28] Who's making a difference because he is bringing things to the light. And that is what we have to, you know, have happened. Um, and people will listen to kids.
[00:25:36] Mike: Yeah.
[00:25:37] Michelle: And I can share a story like that too. Uh, my older son, Ross just graduated from UW Madison and for his policy class, he did a semester long, um, paper on fentanyl and they had to do a presentation to the class.
[00:25:50] And after he gave the presentation, somebody from the UW marching band reached out and said most of their. Uh, prevention work is around sexual assault, but they, after hearing his talk, wanted to do overdose training and get Narcan in the, in the band houses. So it's that, that made him feel really good to know that he was making that kind of impact.
[00:26:11] And now I've heard they're, they're moving forward with getting the Narcan in the band houses. Uh, so that was really glad to hear that that we're slowly, you know, making, making it some differences here.
[00:26:22] Erin: And that's part of the healing. I think even for our boys, you know, like they need to heal, they need to go through their own process of losing a brother.
[00:26:29] You know? I mean, they've, they're both like only children, you know, now, so that's a whole nother, you know, the way it's affected people, our family is Michelle's family.
[00:26:40] Michelle: Yeah.
[00:26:40] Mike: So what's, we'll end this with what what's next. I mean, I know it's ongoing, but Erin did I hear correctly that you're meeting in Washington with the DEA?
[00:26:51] Erin: Yeah. Uh, they, they formed a, um, they formed a family summit, uh, and invited about 50 families throughout the nation. And I got an email a couple weeks ago and I wasn't sure it was real, [laugh] but it was. And, um, they put together a very, in very quick, short period of time here, they put together a two day summit at the DEA headquarters.
[00:27:16] And so we leave on Saturday. It's being held next Tuesday and Wednesday. So, um, the first day is going to be some recordings in the recording studios of our story. And so I am going to, um, my husband Rick and I are going, we're obviously gonna tell our story with, you know, bringing Michelle into the story as well.
[00:27:36] Cause that's a huge part of our story. So that's exciting. And then the second day is just, there's a whole bunch of like, you know, people, you know, the, the CEO, the DEA, the surgeon general, I mean, a lot of people are, you know, it sounds like gonna be there to just collaborate. I think they just wanna hear stories.
[00:27:54] I think they wanna figure out what to do and it's, it's kind of like, Uh, just a collaboration. I, I'm not really sure what it's all gonna be, but I'm excited and I'm excited to kind of bring, bring it back here and share it with Michelle and see how we're gonna be able to get involved. It's exciting. I want our boys' stories to be used.
[00:28:12] There are two beautiful boys who had good homes, good families.
[00:28:17] Mike: Yeah. And, and Michelle, as long as you keep doing this, it, it helps right?
[00:28:22] Michelle: Yeah. And I think even all these little things, like one of the things I realized is as the doctor's office for my annual physical, I said, why are there not posters up in the doctor's office about fake pills?
[00:28:32] Mike: Right?
[00:28:32] Michelle: So I've reached out now to every, all three of the local medical groups saying, why, why are there not posters up warning people? This is the number one cause of death among under 50 year olds and you prescribe pills. Don't you want people to know that there's fake ones on the street. So we'll see where that goes.
[00:28:48] I just made initial contacts with all three systems and we'll see what, if anything comes out of that.
[00:28:55] Mike: You got the posters ready to go? You can just hand it to em.
[00:28:59] Michelle: Right. [laugh] I'm meeting this afternoon with Cade's, uh, church youth group, because they wanna incorporate his story in the fall.
[00:29:05] So back to these kids, they need to just hear it from all these different angles and we can make change if they keep hearing it everywhere. And then the peer pressure thing. If the kids, if, if, if somebody steps up and says, Hey, you shouldn't do that. They, they can start impacting each other.
[00:29:22] Erin: Yeah, that's funny.
[00:29:23] Uh, just, uh, a couple days ago I was asked by our church to come speak at a, at a conference while I'm, but it is while I'm gone in DC. So I had to turn them down, but that's on the, on the radar as well at our church. Um, and I think that's a great outlet as well. And it's just funny cuz the week that Michelle told me about the doctor's offices, I had just.
[00:29:42] Something had just like spurred that same thought and I'm like, oh my gosh, I just thought of the same thing. I haven't been as proactive as her. Cause I know she has, you know, more time and she's so ambitious and, and such a, she's got such a talent of like initiating those things. Um, but you know, I was thinking the same thing.
[00:29:58] Like this could be all over and we're missing the boat. This needs to be in the high schools though. Mike, you were kind of earlier on, we were talking about the high schools and like, you know, that like the administrative staff, the adults, the educators, need to be educated. That's where it needs to start.
[00:30:17] The kids need the education. Absolutely. Without a doubt. But if the educators and the administrative staff of schools don't get it. And they don't believe parents if, if parents are asking for help, you know, not all parents are. Cause I think it's hard to ask for help if your kid's struggling. Cause there's a shame attached to it, right.
[00:30:34] Like, you know, is it our fault? Did you know, did, what did we do? It's all that stuff too, which is a whole nother topic, but, um, The staff needs to be trained. If the teachers need to be trained, they need to understand kids are on. If they're doing drugs, they're probably not telling the whole full truth.
[00:30:49] And there's so many issues with that, that, that needs to be in schools too. Like they need to be keen and really up to speed on, on signs of use and being able to not just overlook it. Cuz I will tell you there had to be, there were so many signs with our son. So many signs and we talked to them and, and, and that just was overlooked.
[00:31:10] And I think it's just, you know, it takes a lot of effort for schools to do that.
[00:31:15] Mike: You know, I, I know everybody listening, appreciates not only your stories, but your ongoing fight and your courage and empathize with you. And I can't tell you how grateful I am for you spending time doing this. You know, we do the best we can in getting the word out and thank you so much for helping us today.
[00:31:35] Erin: Thank you.
[00:31:35] Michelle: Thanks for having us having us.
[00:31:38] Mike: Yeah. And, and I'm sure I'll invite you again as we go. I want, I'd love to hear how this all goes, especially your conference. For those of you listening. Um, they're right. Education is the key. Um, the more we know, the brighter we are, so please listen in next time and until then stay safe and have these conversations.
[00:32:00] [END AUDIO]
The Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition’s mission is to support networking, encourage education, explore gaps, and realize solutions to improve treatment and reduce alcohol and other drug abuse in our community with a primary focus on families.