Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017
REHAB: Margie Fleitman (left) and members of the Solace Foundation talks to event attendees about the dangers of opioid use, providing information about their support group. The convention (top right) aims to eliminate the stigma of drug usage. A film still from “The Long Way Back,” a documentary about the life of Sublime’s former lead singer Bradly Nowell.
Opioid addiction hits heart of OC ADAM GILLES NEWS EDITOR
AUSTIN WEATHERMAN MANAGING EDITOR
Margie Fleitman awoke June 10, 2010 thinking she was going to take her son Mitchell, 22, to rehab. The former Saddleback automotive student struggled with opioid use for some time, realizing he wanted to shake drugs and get his life back in order. Fleitman found her son dead in his room from an accidental overdose the previous evening. Fleitman said her son wanted to use heroin one more time before getting clean. The death of her son devastated the Fleitman family, but she did not let Mitchell’s passing control how she was going to live the rest of her life. Following her son’s death, Fleitman co-founded the Solace Foundation, a support group for families and individuals struggling with the effects of drug addiction. “Through my loss and grief, I just tried to survive it somehow. So I started reaching out to other families who have had this happen to them to prevent other overdoses,” Fleitman said. “I co-founded this support group that meets every Wednesday. We support families who have lost a loved one and those who are struggling with it.” The Solace Foundation joined the anti-opioid conference “Problems and Solutions” at
the Laguna Hills Community Center Thursday, Nov. 30. Event sponsors Strength in Support and Pacific Solstice hosted several speakers, including Jim Nowell, father of deceased Sublime guitarist and lead singer Bradley Nowell, as well as providing booths to various organizations aiming to end the opioid crisis. Purdue Pharma first introduced OxyContin to the general public in 1996 It made $45 million in sales its first year of business. The drug was often given to individuals in hospice, aiding people with chronic pain.
“As long as there’s breath, there’s hope.” Margie Fleitman Co-Founder of the Solace Foundation
in 2000 the Department of Veterans Affairs adopted the drug as a way to treat soldiers returning from foreign deployment. The Nowell Family Foundation was part of the group organizing the event. Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose in 1996. “The Long Way Back,” a film about Sublime’s influence during the early stages of the opioid epidemic , was screened at the event. The film portrayed the glamorization of drug use in the music industry.
“If all people ever hear about is the glamorous side of drug use and addiction then they’re going to want to be a part of that,” Nowell’s sister Kellie said. “For some people, it just grabs a hold and doesn’t let go, and that’s a huge waste, whether it’s somebody who is a librarian or somebody who is a multi-platinum musician. That’s what we’re trying to help.” According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ 2017 statistics, almost half of all people incarcerated in federal prisons were convicted for drug offenses. African Americans account for 50 percent of State and local prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes. African American youth are also 10 times as likely to be arrested for drug crimes as white youth despite a 2011 report published in the Archives of General Psychiatry that whites are more likely to abuse drugs. Retired police Lt. Cmdr. Diane Goldstein with Law Enforcement Action Partnership would like the US government to adopt a drug policy similar to the country of Portugal, which decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. While the drugs themselves are still illegal, Portugal treats drug possession and drug use in small quantities as a public health issue instead of a criminal issue. Since adopting these measures 13 years ago, Portugal reduced the number of adult drug overdose deaths to 3 for every
Lariat is the student-run news publication covering Saddleback College, part of the South Orange County Community College District.