January 25th: Save a Life

The 15th installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook- I would love to share your story!

January 25th: Nicole: Save a Life

My scary, crazy, amazing goals for 2015: if you could accomplish ANYTHING.”  Wow; that is A LOT to take in and pondering these ideas has been a goal in and of itself.  I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this while procrastinating on finishing my grad school application, and it got me thinking about the past few years.  I think this was a vital step before being able to begin thinking about how to transfer all of that energy into the future.

The last four and a half years have consisted of putting a ton of energy and focus into myself: figuring out who I am, what I like, what values are important to me, and why I am the way that I am.  (For those of you who don’t know me or didn’t read my guest blog post from last year, here is the short version: I decided to make a change in my life, stopped using any substances – including alcohol, moved to a brand new city where I knew absolutely nobody, and the universe has put some pretty amazing people and paths in my life since making these changes.)  Now that I’ve successfully reached the point that I truly love myself and can honestly believe/state that I am one AWESOME lady, it is now time to put all of my energy into helping others and doing everything that I can to make America the best place it can be for the next generation of all my friends’ adorable (at least the majority of them are adorable- I have a resentment against my neighbors’ kid that doesn’t do much but cry) babies and tots.

The universe has granted me the privilege of being mentored by one of the most amazing ladies I have ever met in my life and she has opened up my eyes to some pretty incredible ideas and organizations.  I’ve met a lot of incredible people, all working to the greatest good for the people around them.  Working with the Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA), a needle exchange program, has shown me how important it is to help people stay safe and healthy while making whatever choices they want to make on their own without being told what to or not to be doing.  Treating people with the utmost respect, dignity, and love is the way to live life; and yet, so many people seem to forget the importance of this.  I’m not saying this to seem like I am calling people out or anything; I just think that people get so caught up in their own daily lives that it is relatively easy to forget or be completely oblivious to the ways in which they are treating others around them.  My goal is to make sure I’m not partaking in this obliviousness.

In case you are reading this and wondering what the heck a needle exchange program is, I can fill you in on the work that goes on at one, at least at the CRA.  We provide needles and almost anything else needed to use opiates in a sterilized and clean manner so that blood born diseases (HIV and Hep C to name a couple) won’t be spread by the sharing of equipment.  We give participants sharps containers so they can dispose of their needles in a safe way so someone doesn’t come along an accidentally sit on one at a park.  We give out free vaccinations and do tests for things such as HIV, Chlamydia, and Hep C.  Here is the best part- we give out Naloxone (also called Narcan), an opiate overdose reversal drug, for free, to SAVE LIVES.  People who are dead can’t be helped – so why wouldn’t anyone want to promote something that keeps people alive!? We provide a safe and nonjudgemental environment for people to come in order to take actions, on their own free will, to stay safe and healthy.  I, personally, have known too many amazing people that have left this earth far too soon because of an opiate overdose; and none of them had ever heard of Naloxone.  It is so important to get the word out there about this life saving drug so that we stop losing the people that we love.

Naloxone Saves lives

So.  The first part of my scary, crazy, amazing goal is to use all of my stored up energy to focus on my awareness: treating people with nothing but dignity, respect, and love regardless of any extenuating circumstances they may be facing or that may be occupying my on thoughts.  The second part of my goal is to be more vocal about the harm reduction work I am doing with the Chicago Recovery Alliance in order to help open up some peoples’ closed minds about how truly amazing harm reduction is, not to mention all of the evidence-based data that supports it. (Or just inform them that these things actually do exist!)  Think about it – most people wear seat belts and use car seats for their children – am I right?  There is one concrete example of how you are already utilizing harm reduction in your own life!

Regarding the title of ‘if I could accomplish ANYTHING’ : this would include continuing my advocacy work with needle exchange programs and using my knowledge and voice to reach policy makers.  This would include a change is legislation and federal law to give significantly higher amounts of funding to needle exchange programs across the entire country, stopping the war on drugs that is wasting money without seeing any positive changes from it, and completely demolishing the stigma that is associated with addiction or needle exchanges.  I think the first step in these goals was writing this post because many people who have never even heard of a needle exchange program might now be aware of their existence from reading this post and be eager/curious to research their own information on them!  I hope everyone has their best year yet in 2015 and I hope that I can make everyone I have interactions with, going forward, feel respected, loved, and happy to have met me!

P.S…. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Naloxone! I am happy to help 🙂 pallasnicole@gmail.com


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