This Holiday Season: Moms United to End the War on Drugs Launch the ‘The Empty Chair at the Holiday Table’ Campaign

Mothers Speak About the Devastation and Loss Caused by the Preventable Drug Overdose, Mass Incarceration, and Prohibition-Related Violence

CALIFORNIA—(ENEWSPF)—November 26, 2013. This holiday season, A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) and moms from around the country will share their stories of loss while calling for an end to the war on drugs — which has been so disastrous for tens of millions of families. Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the war on drugs.  

Leaders of the Moms United campaign from around the country include: Gretchen Burns Bergman (San Diego, CA), the mother of two sons who have struggled with heroin addiction and repeated incarceration; Julia Negron (Florida), a mother of a son whose son served several prison terms for drug possession; Denise Cullen (Palm Desert, CA), a social worker specializing in grief counseling, whose son died from an overdose five years ago,  Joyce Rivera (New York, NY) who founded St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction in the Bronx and is the sister of an injection drug user who died of HIV/AIDS, Kathie Kane-Willis (Chicago), Director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy Roosevelt University, Charmie Gholson (Michigan), Director of Michigan Moms United, and Joy Strickland (Dallas, Texas), who lost her son to teen violence.

“The holidays are a particularly painful time for families – whether they are separated because of a loved one’s incarceration, lost on the streets due to drug problems, in danger because of drug war violence, or have lost a loved one to accidental overdose.”  

Gretchen Burns Bergman

The empty place at the table is a powerful metaphor for the incredible void that permeates my life during the holidays and all year long because my son lost his life to drug prohibition violence.” 

Joy Strickland

“Going through metal detectors and strip searches to visit my son in prison on Thanksgiving and Christmas convinced me that punitive drug policies tear families apart.”   

Julia Negron

“My son died of an accidental overdose in 2008. The emptiness is everywhere. The holidays bring nothing but pain.” 

Denise Cullen

Moms United has been gathering photos featuring a chair with a picture of a lost or missing loved one, and a sign with one of these statements: incarceration, accidental overdose, drug war violence, or stigma. These photos were collected and became part of a growing collection of personal stories of loss. Moms United has created a moving and poignant video featuring these haunting pictures.

Moms United is asking mothers and others to take action during this holiday season in three ways:

Share the empty Chair Video:

Use our newly created “Empty Chair” logo as your Facebook profile from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Sign and share the Moms Bill of Rights. Through this campaign we work to end the stigma and shame associated with addiction, as well as reaching out to and help suffering families:

The Moms United campaign mission is to “end the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies. We are building a movement to stop the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs or who are addicted to drugs. We are urgently calling for health-oriented strategies and widespread drug policy reform in order to stop the irresponsible waste of dollars and resources, and the devastating loss of lives and liberty.”

Moms United to End the War on Drugs is a project of San Diego-based A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing), a 14-year old nonprofit organization that works to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness through education and compassionate support, and to advocate for therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies.

Join us and follow the campaign on Facebook – Moms United to End the War on Drugs.

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