Moms From Around Country Come Together to Share Experiences of Drug War Damage

Mothers across the country are telling their personal stories of drug war damage with stories, articles and interviews in honor of Mother’s Day. By sharing these powerful stories of losing loved ones to drug-prohibition-related violence, incarceration, overdose and addiction, they are bringing focus to a real need to reform our nation’s drug policies. Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the war on drugs, including having children who suffer from addiction and who have been repeatedly incarcerated, or have died from preventable drug overdoses and other drug related problems.

Moms were the driving force in repealing alcohol prohibition in the 30’s and now Moms are playing a similar role in ending the war on drugs. Moms United to End theWar on Drugs, is a project of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) along with other organizations and individuals from across the nation.Together they are building a national movement to demand therapeutic, rather than punitive drug policies and an end to the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs or who are addicted to drugs.

In honor of Mother’s Day 2015, we are encouraging people to sign our Mom’s Bill of Rights,” which was created in 2012 with 12 basic rights such as: “We have the right to communities where our children can live, learn and play, without fear of drug war violence.” Each day, beginning on May 1, mothers will post a personal picture with their children and share one of the twelve declared rights cited in the document on social media. The campaign will end two days after Mother’s Day on May 12with the final right declared: “We have the right to speak out publicly to end the war on drugs, because of the damage it has done to our communities, for the sake of our children and future generations.”

Moms United launched a Moms & Cops partnership with LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) in May, 2012, when the Mom’s Bill of Rights was created and announced at the national press club. In 2013 Moms United created a partnership with doctors and nurses to speak up in order to demand science-based compassionate health-oriented strategies that reduce the harms associated with drug use and addiction. In 2014, in honor of Mother’s Day, the “Ask Mom How to Save a Life” campaign was created to increase access to naloxone, which can reverse an accidental opioid overdose.

“The war on drugs is really a war on families,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, Lead organizer of the Moms United to End the War on Drugs Campaign. “My two sons have addictive illness, so I have experienced not only the devastation of this life-threatening disease, but also the destruction of punitive policies and incarceration. It is past time to move from arrest and mass incarceration to therapeutic, health-oriented strategies. Mothers must speak out to end the drug war that is destroying the futures of our children.”

Leaders of the campaign include: Lead Organizer Gretchen Burns Bergman (San Diego, CA), the mother of two sons who have both struggled with heroin addiction and repeated incarceration and founder of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing); Denise Cullen (California), a social worker specializing in grief counseling, whose son died from an accidental overdose; Joyce Rivera (New York), mother who founded St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction and is the sister of an injection drug user who died of HIV/AIDS; Julia Negron (Florida), a person in long-term recovery whose son has struggled with heroin addiction; and Yolande Cadore (New York), a mom and director of strategic partners at the Drug Policy Alliance. There are now Moms United representatives in 25 states including Illinois, Colorado, Michigan, and Washington D.C.

The Moms United campaign mission is to “end the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drugpolicies. We are urgently calling for health-oriented strategies and widespread drug policy reform in order to stop the irresponsible expenditure of dollars and resources, and the devastating loss of lives and liberty.”