To this day, Laura still loves her puzzles. Check out her recent Facebook post below.
When my daughter Laura was in early recovery she would rush home from work and bang out one puzzle after the other. It's good to keep your mind occupied. When you have a hobby or something to look forward to it's like therapy. It gives you something else to focus on. Puzzling, art, music and sports are just some of the healthy things you can do to keep your mind sharp.
To this day, Laura still loves her puzzles. Check out her recent Facebook post below.
Thanks for the shout out to P.I.C.K Awareness! We love folks to stay informed.
*** Ocean County Facebook Follower of the Week ***
#OCPOFamily #FridayFeeling #ChildSafety
This share by Donna Pacicco DeStefano and her founding of the P.I.C.K. (Parents In Connection with Kids) Facebook page made her a no brainer pick for this Friday’s “FBFW”.
Donna’s P.I.C.K. page and this share highlighting PlaySafe.org offers parents a tremendous resource. The PlaySafe site created for parents by parents at The Toy Association is full of safety tips, expert advice, answers to FAQs and facts about toy safety to help you keep your little ones safe while they play.
The P.I.C.K. (Parents In Connection with Kids) Facebook page exists to help parents keep their children focused, motivated and drug free! It enables parents to connect with each other and know where their kids are and who they are with. Its’ premise is founded in prevention in order to educate oneself with knowledge and resources that will help save children from addiction, jail or death.
OCPO thanks you Donna for your efforts and commitment protecting to all children – Al Della Fave.
Thank you Tony Calabrese for inviting me to speak!
On August 2, 2018, The Rotary Club of Toms River and President Tony Calabrese, welcomed Donna DeStefano the founder of Parents in Connection for Kids Inc. Donna brought to us a very personal story of a family member's struggle with alcohol and opiate addiction. PICK has worked tirelessly to bring awareness, information and education to fellow parents, organizations and professional groups. PICK believes that bringing positive information to our youth is paramount for the reduction in the early onset of drug use.
We invite you to join us any Wednesday night to join us at a Rotary meeting and experience wonderful speaker like Donna. We meet at 6:00 pm at Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, on Route 37 in Toms River, New Jersey.
I want to thank Jamie Wood for writing this guest blog for P.I.C.K. Awareness. Her courage to share her families story without fear and to let other families know that Recovery is Possible is selfless. So many folks can relate to her story. I know I can. Take a moment to read this and know that there is always hope!
We grew up middle class, nice neighborhood, good house, yearly vacation; just your average American family. My childhood home was in a small town in Connecticut, about a 45-minute drive from NYC. Our parents chose that house specifically because it was a safe neighborhood, with good schools nearby, they never expected our lives to become what they did.
I am two years older than my brother. As kids we bickered, argued and fought just as much as any other siblings. He was always different, I don’t mean that in a bad way, trust me if you knew him and knew my family you would understand. He wasn’t a black sheep or rejected by the world, he was just him. A class clown with a heart of gold. He could make anyone laugh, was always fairly positive and just had a certain something special about him.
He was able to make friends with anyone, but never let anyone too close. I had my friends and he had his. We just never clicked, I was more of a preppy girl and he was never really part of any specific group; just a floater. He had his neighborhood friends that he knew since he was 3, beyond that everyone else was considered an acquaintance. It’s not that we hated each other, we just weren’t compatible in any way besides being related. I loved him and I know he loved me, even though it was rarely verbalized.
He idolized rock stars from a young age. The first CDs he ever owned were Aerosmith and Elvis. I still can’t hear “Dream On” without thinking of him. Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Grand Funk, The Stones and The Beatles became his idols. It didn’t take long for his personality and image to match the musicians he cared about so much was about. At 13 years old he had the long hair, the “I don’t care attitude” and eventually started smoking weed. I knew he was smoking and didn’t think anything of it. Who was I to judge? I drank and smoked pot on occasion, we were teenagers it felt normal.
As time passed he seemed to become more and more reclusive and secretive. I just thought he was doing his own thing, but when one of his friends from the neighborhood came to me with his concerns I had no idea what to do. It was 2005 and prescription painkillers seemed to be everywhere; even in our small town. They told me Jackson was at their house the other day and snorted a pill in front of them. I was scared but didn’t know how to handle it. I probably should’ve said something to my parents, but I didn’t. It may have been the fear of pushing us further apart or having him feel like I “snitched” on him that kept me from saying something, I’m not really sure. I regret my choice that day, I wonder what would’ve happened if I had just said something.
Not long after this I left for college in Ohio and didn't see or speak to Jackson until he came with my parents to visit. As soon as he came to my dorm I saw an obvious decline in his physical appearance. He wasn’t in good shape. His eyes were sunken in, his skin had lost all pigment and he just seemed to be a shell of his old self.
I spoke to my parents later that night about him. They said he was recently arrested for trying to sell pot to some freshman and they had him going to therapy sessions to help with any charges he might have to face. I told them about the pill incident and they seemed to brush it off. Maybe it was denial, but they said something along the lines of “that’s why we brought him out here, it’ll do him good to get away from everything for a little while”.
Fast forward a bit, Jackson is now 18, I’m at the end of my sophomore year of college. We spoke here and there, mainly during the holidays and on birthdays. He was constantly stealing from them and other places and one day got arrested for shoplifting. A week later he got arrested again, then again. He admitted to my parents he had been using heroin for over 6 months. They panicked and got him into a local methadone clinic. Drug addiction was greek to them, they didn’t know how to handle it and to be honest, neither did I.
Heroin wasn’t big then, there was no heroin epidemic. He was just a kid, my family went into this blind and just hoped for the best. We had no idea how bad it would all become.
At first, it was working and he seemed to be doing ok. We had hope, but that hope soon faded and was replaced by fear. Jackson was arrested again, this time for crack possession. If it wasn’t for my Dad being close friends with the chief of police he would’ve 100% gone to jail. It soon came to light that while he was in the methadone clinic he was also smoking crack and started shooting heroin instead of snorting it. My brother was gone. Not in the physical sense, but in who he was. He was unrecognizable in every way. I drove home and we had an intervention. Jackson reluctantly agreed to go to rehab.
Less than a week out of treatment and he was back to the same. This happened time and time again over the next 3+ years. He’d go to rehab, get out, make it a few weeks or few months and relapse. Every time he relapsed it got worse. I was emotionally ready to hear that he had died, but I wasn’t ready for what happened next.
Jackson had a month or so clean and had come up to Connecticut for our grandmother’s funeral. Everything through the funeral went as normally as it could. We were back at our parent’s house sharing memories and laughs. He seemed to be doing great, back to who he used to be; he was finally my brother again. The next day I was waiting to shower. I knocked on the door, but no response. I knocked again. Nothing. When I open the door I found him lying on the floor. I screamed for my parents.
6 years ago I found my brother died on the floor. 6 years ago I called an ambulance to let them know my brother had overdosed on heroin. 6 years ago they were able to bring him back. My story isn't different from tens of thousands of others, except mine has a happy ending. That’s not the case for over 64,000 others. That’s how many people died from a drug overdose last year, that number is expected to rise in 2018. We got lucky, Jackson got lucky. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I lost my brother that day. Please if someone you care about is struggling or if you think they are, say something and do something.
He went back to detox and to rehab after the incident and then went to a halfway house. It was the same thing he had done in the past, but something was different. He wanted it, more than anything he wanted to get clean. We supported him emotionally, but not financially. He had to learn to be his own man and we couldn’t enable him anymore. It’s been 6 years since I got my brother back and I can’t explain how thankful I am.
By Jamie Wood
I attended a seminar on July 11, 2017 where a friend of mine, Eric Arauz was presenting to providers, clinicians and mental health professionals. Eric was an accomplished author, a mental health expert and a dynamic speaker. I’m not a clinical person professionally, but I love learning all aspects of human behavior. I learned a lot about mine from him that day.
The universe brought me this information at a time that I needed to restore my compassion and understanding towards someone. Something that was going on in my personal life that was making me judge a person and I was blocked.
When you’re a mom and you feel that you are protecting your child, all that you learn and preach about to others about helping people and understanding them, not criticizing or judging them goes out the window because now it’s your kid that could be affected by this person’s behavior. It’s your kid who gets hurt if you don’t protect them.
I had to ask myself, if this were someone else’s situation would I do whatever I could to help? After soul searching and really looking at all the facts the trauma this person had growing up, the home life he had, and the answer was yes. It was the right thing to do. I would have done this for a stranger! He needed my support. He needed understanding, treatment and a shot a better life. I put my fears away because of Eric’s seminar that day.
Eric talked about a lot of things that day, but what stuck out the most in this situation was the “ACE Score” (see below). The ACE Score which stands for “Adverse Childhood Experiences” is a tally of different kinds of abuse, neglect and other horrific childhood traumas that happened before the age of 18. There are ten major risk factors/ scores that can contribute to a person’s trauma growing up that can make them mentally and physically unhealthy adults. This kid I am referring to has 9 of them. He also talked about “The Process of Change: “The Power of Pause” Meaning if you’re reactive and then you pause you can become proactive. He said the 6 steps to achieving this are “Feel, PAUSE, Tolerate, Regulate, Integrate and Oscillate.
Eric was an amazing person, husband and father. Unfortunately this year we lost Eric to his own battle with depression and mental illness. At his last seminar he shared that he too had 9 out of the 10 ACE Scores.
Eric wrote a book about his life. It’s called “An American Resurrection” He signed my copy for me and this is how he signed it:
"You are a true light and leader in the field of recovery”
I will be forever grateful to Eric for sharing his advice, encouragement, wisdom and his friendship.
“Finding Your ACE Score”
While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:
1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
If yes enter 1 ________
2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? If yes enter 1 ________
3. Did an adult person at least 5 years older than you ever…touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? Or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
If yes enter 1 ________
4. Did you often or very often feel that …No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other? If yes enter 1 ________
5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it? If yes enter 1 ________
6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced? If yes enter 1 ________
7. Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife? If yes enter 1 ________
8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?
If yes enter 1 ________
9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
If yes enter 1 ________
10. Did a household member go to prison?
If yes enter 1 _______
Now add up your “Yes” answers: _______ This is your ACE Score.
New Jersey franchised automotive retailers (NJ Car) are committed to raising $50,000 for the "Support Recovery" License Plate in support of Parents in Connection for Kids, Inc. (P.I.C.K. Awareness), a non-profit organization that provides substance abuse treatment resources to parents of children suffering with alcohol and drug addiction. #supportrecovery #resources #soberliving #recovery #licenseplates #pickawareness.
We are almost there! N.J. Support Recovery License plates head to the Senate floor!
“I’m thrilled that ‘N.J. Support Recovery License Plates’ have bipartisan support in both the Assembly and the Senate. It shows that New Jersey is on the forefront of this epidemic, mission-oriented on addiction issues and that they welcome new strategies, solutions, and results,” DeStefano said. “This bill will bring a sorely needed sustainable funding model that will reduce homelessness as a barrier to recovery. It will provide sober living to indigent clients in an emergent or crisis situation suffering from substance use disorders and help this population with its recovery efforts. These License Plates will also raise awareness and reduce the ongoing stigma associated with this disease.”
See full press release here:
Readily available at a mall near you...... I was walking in a local mall the other day and there they were.....Pipes in every shape and color. Pretty tempting for a pot smoking enthusiast to ignore.
Smoking, Vaping, Dabbing and many other methods are used for smoking marijuana. These cute little art forms might be sitting in your kids bedroom. Be aware of the signs.
Here are a few articles on Marijuana:
A friend recently had surgery. Approximately 1 1/2 months after.... she received this package in the mail from Express Scripts. A disposal bag for safely disposing unused medications and a postcard saying "Trash it don't Stash it" and... directions on how to use it! and... the reasons why you should dispose! Kudos to their proactive approach!
In the United States, there is a public health crisis of overdose deaths from opioids, including heroin, illicit fentanyl, and prescription opioids. An estimated 1.8 million Americans have OUD (Opioid Use Disorder) related to prescription opioids. 626,000 have heroin-related OUD with an estimated cost of over $504 billion. (Source- ASAM)
Read more here: