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Opioid Crisis & Midterms 2018


AIR DATE 11 02 2018


Opioids in America

All the programs out there that are helping combat the drug epidemic, I applaud them. But unless you get to the basis, the root of why that person is using, the problem is not solved.

((Animation Transition))

A View of the Midterms

Now immigrants are aware that elections have consequences and when you don’t vote, for whatever reason, it comes back to either serve you or hurt you.
((Animation Transition))

Women in Politics

She is a refugee. She is a mom of three. She is really embodying that leadership style of bringing the community along of leaving and cutting a wider path behind you.
((Open Animation))


Living America’s Opioid Nightmare))


((Popup Banner
More than 115 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses.
VOA looks at three stories from the epidemic))
((Banner: A Chief for Hope: Part 3))
Jeff Swicord, Chris Simkins, Jacquelyn De Phillips))
Jeff Swicord, Chris Simkins, Mike Burke, Marcus Harton))
Nashville, North Carolina))


((NATS - Pastor Mike Dixon))

The message we’ve got can change people forever. The message we’ve got can deliver a drug addict. The message we’ve got can deliver an alcoholic. The message we’ve got can heal a broken marriage. The message we’ve got can save a soul from hell and so…..

((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
I've been a pastor for 27 years. I grew up in a good middle class family. Mama took us to church, so, you know, we understood what the truth was. But I also grew up in a world that tends to inflict pain upon us, a fallen world. And so, I was sinned against as a child, sexually molested over a period of years.

((NATS - Pastor Mike Dixon))

Maybe the reason why your child won’t really listen to what you’re trying to tell…..

((Pastor Mike Dixon, L.I.F.E Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))

That instilled, deep inside of me, a lot of pain and a lot of bitterness and anger.
((NATS - Pastor Mike Dixon))

A whole different animal, I mean you never mention God.

((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))

Those things that I kept hidden for so long led to a life of drug abuse for me because I was just trying to numb the pain.


((Banner: The local police chief favors drug rehab over jail.))
((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
((Thomas Bashore, Police Chief, Nashville, N.C.))

Pastor Mike: Hey Chief.

Bashore: Hey Mike, how are you?

Pastor Mike: Good man. Good to see you again.
Bashore: Good to see you.

Pastor Mike: Thanks for meeting me for lunch.

Bashore: Absolutely. Let’s go eat.

Pastor Mike: Sounds like a plan. Alright, I didn’t know this table was up here.

Bashore: You’ve eaten here before?
Pastor Mike: Yeah, I have. Yeah, yeah. How about we say a blessing?

Bashore: Yes, alright.
Pastor: Dear Heavenly Father, Lord God, we just give you thanks and praise Lord for this day. Thank you for Chief Bashore. Lord, bless his efforts. Bless my efforts, Lord, as we join together to help people. We thank you for this food. I pray you bless it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bashore: Amen.
Pastor: Alright. So how are things going with you, besides overloaded?
Bashore: Well, in December of last year, we were at two hundred ninety nine at the end of the year. So, now this is, you know, late summer, and we're at four hundred twenty.
Pastor: Oh wow. So, the problem's not getting any better, it's getting worse.
Bashore: Well, and I guess it depends on how you look at it. People want to come through this program. So, if more people are seeking help, then hopefully less having those serious problems. Out of those 420, we've had five deaths. The first one, Hunter Stokes passed and it was tragic because we had sent him to a treatment facility and then he came back to this area and there wasn't a lot of support. He passed within two and a half months after being back here.
Pastor: How does that affect you?
Bashore: You know, because I'm fortunate in that I get to interact with the individuals that come through when I do their assessments and then talk with them and their families. So, I get to know them pretty well. You just, you hope for the best for them. You saw how things turned around for him and his family and then, tragedy.
Pastor Mike: When I hear about somebody who’s overdosed or are not here anymore, it makes me angry.
Bashore: Oh yeah. Well, I think, I think I've gotten past the anger part. I don't know why. I mean, it still frustrates me, but I think I've gotten past the anger part. I know that people who come through the HOPE initiative that we referred out to the LIFE Ministry, are there any other ways you think we can work together?
Pastor Mike: One of the big challenges I have in the LIFE Ministry is just getting the word out.
Bashore: Ok, if you could send me your logo, and just maybe 3 or 4 bullet points about your program, I will stick that in my presentation.
Pastor Mike: Ok, I’ll send that to you. On my end, anything I can help you with with the HOPE Initiative?
Bashore: No, just, you know, keep referring people. You know, if somebody’s struggling, just call me up and let me know. I appreciate you meeting me for lunch.
Pastor Mike: Yeah, thank you.
Bashore: Thank you.
((Locater: Rocky Mount, North Carolina))
((NATS - Pastor Mike))

I’ll start. My name’s Mike Dixon and I’ve been clean for 30 years now.
((Locater: LIFE Ministry Meeting))

((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
We began the LIFE Ministry over a year ago back in 2017. LIFE stands for Living in Freedom Everyday.
((NATS - Pastor Mike))

I’m just so angry with God. Why didn’t He just take the drug addiction from me.

((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
What we do in ministry in approaching addictions is a lot different from what secular organizations do, as far as detox in a clinical environment, that type of thing.

((NATS - Pastor Mike))
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord God, tonight we just want to come before your throne of grace…..
((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
I believe, as a pastor and as a Christian, that you really don’t solve the problem until you get to the root of the problem, and the root of the problem in an addiction has a spiritual basis.
((NATS - Pastor Mike))

And so, I know the power of God is the power to set the captive free.

((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
We meet every Tuesday night of the year. It’s open to men and women. In fact, it’s open to family members who would like to come and just learn more about addiction.

((NATS - Pastor Mike))

If you put your faith in Christ, you’ll reach a point where you begin to realize, I don’t struggle anymore, I’m not an addict anymore. ((Ashley Pendergrass, Recovering Addict))

I started experimenting with drugs, you know, throughout high school. As I graduated high school, I ended up getting pregnant. I was in an abusive relationship with my child's father. I got really sick and they were giving me pain pills and along with a bunch of other medications and that became my outlet. I stayed on the pain pills for two years and then that went to heroin. In May, Mother's Day 2017, I lost full custody of my son. After I lost custody of my son, I wanted my life back. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen him last. I went to outpatient treatment. They prescribed me all these medications and honestly, the medication was making me feel worse than the drugs were. I ended up just self-medicating again because nothing was working
((NATS- Ashley’s Mom))
I’m proud of you baby.

((Ashley Pendergrass, Recovering Addict))

All these secular programs, there's no real compassion and support there.
((Ashley Pendergrass, Recovering Addict))

The first night I came here, everybody was welcoming. You could be yourself and you could be real and you could tell them what you're struggling with.

Man: I don’t want to live that way no more.
((Ashley Pendergrass, Recovering Addict))

My opinion is different things work for different people. I don't ever try to push what I believe on other people, but I do share what has helped me stay clean.

((NATS - Pastor Mike))
Once an addict, always an addict? Hmm, no.

((Ashley Pendergrass, Recovering Addict))

Coming here has helped me.

((NATS - Pastor Mike))
Because that’s not what God says in the word, right? That’s not what I know from personal experience.

((Ashley Pendergrass, Recovering Addict))

July 4th made my year clean.

((NATS - Pastor Mike))
If you got your Bible, turn with me to Genesis chapter four…..

((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
All the programs out there that are helping combat the drug epidemic, I applaud them.

((NATS - Pastor Mike))
You want to talk about the counselor of all counselors. God’s the one giving counsel here. We’re in Genesis…..

((Pastor Mike Dixon, LIFE Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
But unless you get to the basis, the root of why that person is using, then the problem is not solved. The first step is they need to be presented the gospel of Jesus Christ to get to the heart of that issue.

((NATS - Pastor Mike))
So the Bible says that God…..
((Pastor Mike Dixon, L.I.F.E Ministry, Oakdale Baptist Church))
For me, it was not until 27 years old, when I knelt in an old fashioned altar and I looked in faith to God. The Bible’s clear that you don't have to stay the way you are. So, we want to help them understand what God says. There is a way out of addiction. Again, I've been 30 years clean and I'm not an addict anymore.

((Sherry Van, Recovering Addict))
((Sgt. Steve Glover, Nashville Police Department))
((Lisa, Counselor))
You’re sweet for being here.

Sherry: Hi.

Sgt. Glover: Hey guys. How are you all?

Sherry: I’m ok. What you are going to ask me?

Sgt. Glover: Let me tell you about the program, what happens here. We do an interview, takes about 10 or 15 minutes to do the interview. Be truthful with me. That's all I ask.

Sherry: Ok.
Sgt. Glover: We're not here to judge. First of all, do you have anything on you illegal?

Sherry: No.

Sgt. Glover: If you do, we throw it away and that's the end of it, right now. Once we get to the hospital, it's a whole new ballgame.

Sherry: No, I don't have anything at all.

Sgt. Glover: OK. What drug are we using?

Sherry: Heroin.

Sgt. Glover: And when was the last time you used?

Sherry: Yesterday.

Sgt. Glover: Yesterday. I hate to say this. That's a good thing because what I want you to do is test positive when we get to the hospital, because if you test negative, they're going to send us all back home.
Sgt. Glover: Are you ready for help today?

Sherry: Yes.

Sgt. Glover: Ready for help today.

Sherry: I have to.

Sgt. Glover: What do you consider help?

Sherry: To live a normal happy life.

Sgt. Glover: I say, what happens, you'll be at the hospital six, eight, ten hours. Get your blood work. blood pressure, just triage in general.

Sherry: Ok.

Sgt. Glover: While you're there, Chief Bashore and a counselor named Amanda Florrey will be looking somewhere long term for you to go to.

Lisa: There's nothing like sobriety. I've been clean for three years. I was a 25-year crack addict. There's nothing like it.

Sgt. Glover: At detox, I know, you know, they're probably going to give you lots of stuff to help you sleep. So, you know, don't have the withdrawal, don't have the sickness. They're going to get you through that part.

Sherry's Brother: You just got to focus on you.

Sherry: Ok.

Lisa: Take this one day at a time.

Sherry: I know, I am.

((Thomas Bashore, Police Chief, Nashville, N.C.))
We opened a recovery community center. That's a place where individuals can come and be in a safe place, that are in recovery or even seeking recovery. We have been planning that for probably the better part of 18 months and it finally became a reality. There's no other place like it. It's going to be peer driven. Everybody, who is involved with it, has put in a lot of work.

((Ashley, Peer Counselor))
The opioid epidemic hit hard in Nash County and the surrounding areas. Nobody knew where to turn, where to look. Families, mothers, fathers, they didn't have anywhere to go to, to bring their children to try to save their lives.
((Joe, Peer Counselor))

You know, I've been around a little while. I came in in the 80's. I went to detox, great. I went to the treatment center that milked my insurance for every penny it had. But guess what, when the insurance was done, so was I. You're cured, go on home, go to meetings, you know. Well, ok, so now you just threw me back in the environment I just came from. The only people I know are the people that I was getting high with.

((Lindsey, Peer Counselor))
Coming out of rehab and coming back to the same environment and not having any support, I think, was one of the most difficult times in my life. And for a short while, after my rehabilitative services, I relapsed. I slipped back into those same habits.
((Ashley, Peer Counselor))
It's all about who you surround yourself with, the people, places and things, and having this resource here offers those struggling to have fellowship with safe and sober.

Lindsey: A support system.

Ashley: Yeah, exactly. You really have to get rid of all the people that you associated with.

Lindsey: It's not a 9 to 5. It's a lifestyle change and that means changing your surroundings. Yes, you may have to come back to the same environment after you go to a rehabilitative service and you have to deal with those same stressors, those same people, and cope with those. And a lot of that is a lifestyle change and finding a more positive support system.

Ashley: And this is that support system. So, when people do come back to Nash County, they can come here. They can attend, you know, the bowling nights, the paint nights, the movie nights.

Lindsey: Still have all the fun we used to have, just sober.

Ashley: Yes, exactly.
((Thomas Bashore, Police Chief, Nashville, N.C.))
((Sherry Van, Recovering addict))

Bashore: Hello.
Sherry: Hey.

Bashore: How are you?

Sherry: Good. How are you?

Bashore: Good to see you.

Sherry: It's good to see you too.

Bashore: Have a seat. So, you've been here how long?

Sherry: It'll be two months on the 20th.

Bashore: So, when you got to the police department with Lisa, what did you think?

Sherry: Oh god, what have I done? But I knew that…..

Bashore: What kind of things crossed your mind?

Sherry: Running out a back door, but in the reality of it, you know, the thought of what kind of life I could have and what I was. You know, when you think back to when you're a kid and everything that your expectations were, I can now definitely see, just from going to the classes that they send you to and all the meetings, I mean, it's a really intense program. It really is. It’s 12 to 18 months.

Bashore: When you realized that you weren’t going to be on the Suboxone.....

Sherry: I panicked.

Bashore: Yeah, what was, you thought about leaving?

Sherry: Yeah, I did.

Bashore: So, you thought about leaving but then you decided to stay. Was there something that happened in your mind that you just decided, well, I’m going to stick this out or.....

Sherry: Honestly, had my best friend from high school not been here, that was just God's doing for me when I could not have ever thought of doing by myself.

Bashore: So, they played a huge role in you staying.

Sherry: It still does today, to this day, that…..

Bashore: How far along is she in the program?

Sherry: She's been clean nine years.

Bashore: So, I've seen a big change, obviously, just in the little bit of time that you have been here. Have you noticed that yourself?

Sherry: Of course, oh yeah. I mean I wake up and I feel amazing. I wake up and feel great and it’s 5:30 in the morning. You know, I mean, I used to stay up till 3 or 4. So yeah, I mean, I'm asleep by 10:30 at night. I mean, so yeah, it definitely gets you ready to be a productive member of society for sure. And I mean, I'm eager to get back to work.

Bashore: Well, Amanda wanted me to tell you to tell you hello.

Sherry: OK.

Bashore: So, she has not forgotten you either.

Sherry: All right. Thank you.

Bashore: And just know that we are both proud of you.

Sherry: Thank you. I'm proud of myself.

Bashore: You have the hard job, obviously, I mean.

Sherry: Yeah.

Bashore: We just kind of showed you the way.

Sherry: It's so worth it.

Bashore: Well, that’s good.

Sherry: It is, and I so appreciate it.

Bashore: I’m glad you stayed.

Sherry: Thank you.
((Popup Banner

Living America’s Opioid Nightmare
continues on VOA Connect in the weeks to come))


Coming up
Why These Midterms Count
The conversation would always peak at presidentials, but for some reason, given the climate that we’re in, you know, everybody is paying attention.


((Banner: The Midterms))


The U.S. holds nationwide elections every two years.

Presidents serve four-year terms.
The election in between is called a midterm election.

Voters don’t get as excited about midterms.
Participation is never as high as presidential elections.

But the midterms are very important.

All 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election every two years.

1/3 of the 100-member U.S. Senate is up for election. Senators serve 6-year terms.

Most U.S. states elect governors in midterm elections.
Mid-terms sometimes change the political landscape.
The president’s party almost always loses seats in both houses of Congress.
Sometimes the loss changes the party in control of the legislature.
That impacts the president’s party’s ability to pursue an agenda during the second half of his or her term.

((Banner: A Global Media View of the Midterms))
Elizabeth Lee))
Los Angeles, California))

You know they are being threatened with arrest and deportation. Legalize the undocumented.
What about people who are waiting in line? That’s just unfair.
Issues are what would drive us. If you just talk about elections in general, nobody cares.
Usually a midterm election is not something that we work a lot on.
We never talked about midterms, congressionals, state and all those kinds of things. The conversation would always peak at presidentials, but for some reason, given the climate that we’re in, you know, everybody is paying attention.
And due to one word, Trump. In the case of Latinos, Trump positioned himself as a foe since the beginning of his campaign when he defined that Mexican immigrants are criminals, are rapists

This created a lot of, a strong reaction against Trump and Trumpism in the community. This has been like an earthquake, a political earthquake for many of the Latinos, and so people are really interested in what is going on.

What is really important to Africans, healthcare, being legal. We have a lot of Africans who are undocumented. Now immigrants are aware that elections have consequences and when you don’t vote, for whatever reason, it comes back to either serve you or hurt you.

From the World Journal’s website, we often see comments from our readers. We can gauge that for President Trump’s policies, among Chinese Americans, even though he’s been widely criticized, but among Chinese Americans, he’s actually quite well received.

It’s very possible the results of this (midterm) election will be a vote of confidence for President Trump.

Coming up
Expanding the Choices
VoteRunLead trains women to run for office and win and now we see them running for office, winning public office and doing some fantastic innovative things at the local and state level.


((Banner: Women in Politics))

((PKG)) PIA – Erin Vilardi
((Banner: ))
((Executive Producer: Marsha James))
Kaveh Rezaei))
Washington, D.C.))
((Erin Vilardi, Activist and Founder, VoteRunLead))

I always wanted to work on women and power. Being subscribed to Ms. Magazine in the seventh grade, I had a window into the fight that women were fighting but it always felt that it was under the frame around women as victims. How do we end domestic violence? How do we close the pay gap? How do we look at the different disparities between women and to make things more fair? And what I always believed that if women were in charge, the world would be a better place.

My name is Erin Vilardi and I am the Founder and CEO of VoteRunLead.

My sister had me subscribed to Ms. Magazine. She had taken her first women’s studies 101 and really put that jolt in me to be exposed to women around the world, to how the world treated women in return and what could be done about it.
My senior year of college, I was looking for an internship. The White House Project was one of the first cross women’s leadership organizations. They were introducing the idea of women as leaders. Marie [Wilson] was a cultural icon. She had created Take Your Daughter to Work Day. She had created the Girl Scout patch for the presidency and she said to me the grantees that I have been funding for the last 20 years are the government in exile. These are the women that should be running for office. And I have taken that with me in launching VoteRunLead as a very young woman, and went from intern to vice president by the time I was finished.

VoteRunLead trains women to run for office and win. So many people told us those women will never run. Those women will never be viable. Gay women, poor women, communities of color, you know, activist women, and now we see them running for office, winning public office and doing some fantastic innovative things at the local and state level.

Probably one of the proudest moments was the Minnesota state primary for District 60B in which Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim person to win an election and she is a state legislator in Minnesota.

((Courtesy: VoteRunLead))

She is the highest ranking Somali elected official in the country. She is a refugee. She is a mom of three. She is really embodying that leadership style of bringing the community along of leaving and cutting a wider path behind you.
What we are teaching is you are enough. You have the skills, you have the talent, you have the networks, understanding that is within you. You can channel it. You can put it in the right direction and actually the world is desperately waiting for your leadership.
We know at VoteRunLead that one woman will never be representative of the millions of women in this country, that actually it comes from the ground up. And so that's what RunLead’s contribution is, making sure that groundswell of women have the resources to know how to run, have women who look like them, teaching the courses. I think honestly the women of VoteRunLead are what make people hopeful about the future.
I get to see and hug the women who are out there changing the world. My role is to make other women powerful and I think that's why I've been put on the planet. It's my magic special power, if you will. You know, and tell women how phenomenal they are, and when you center people who have often been at the margins and you put them at the core of what you're doing, everybody benefits.