Our Crisis Line Program operates with a blend of master’s level supervisors and well-trained volunteers. I think of our team as being like a kaleidoscope – beautiful in the diversity of colors and patterns of interaction. With 100 volunteers, we represent an incredible range of experiences and perspectives.
We are united by our training and our common goal – to further Oregon Partnership’s mission in drug prevention and to end substance abuse and suicide by responding to callers with compassion and insight, knowledge and respect. Our life experiences and personalities make up the colorful array of the kaleidoscope.
We are constantly amazed by the way callers seem to magically be connected to the volunteer who somehow has the ability to offer exactly what the caller needed that day. Sometimes the volunteer just sees things from an angle that the caller never considered before, and that makes all the difference. Sometimes the volunteer has something in common with the caller that paves the way for an especially helpful connection. I think of the elderly grandmother who was losing her will to live, reaching a volunteer whose strong connection with her own grandparents motivated her to engage courageously with the caller in a way that helped to rebuild a connection to life. The caller going through a painful break-up reaches the volunteer who found his way to the other side of a similar crisis a few years back. The veteran caller reaches the veteran volunteer who can truly understand and make a needed, life-sustaining connection. The caller in the early stages of recovery from addiction reaches the volunteer with several years of sobriety under her belt.
Our volunteers commit to a full year of service, giving 4 hours of their time each week. When these uncanny connections occur, and we know we helped, it makes it all worthwhile.
In the field of drug abuse prevention we’re always playing “catch-up” – tackling seemingly unstoppable juggernauts that have years of momentum. We almost never have a chance to get ahead of an emerging drug of abuse.
We have that opportunity now.
“Synthetic marijuana,” sold under various names, like “K2″ and “Spice,” is quickly establishing a foothold among our Nation’s youth. At Oregon Partnership we recently received a call from a mother whose son woke her up in the middle of the night, screaming, convulsing and hallucinating from smoking synthetic marijuana. At the emergency room his heart was racing, his breathing was labored and he was begging his mother “Please don’t let me die!”
Synthetic Marijuana is cheap. It’s undetectable by traditional marijuana (THC) screening methods. And, in most states, it’s legal. In fact, youth refer to it as “legal marijuana” and word is spreading quickly that it defies the usual detection screenings.
It is sold in head shops and hookah stores as incense with a broad wink and a note that it’s “not for human consumption.” But people, seeking a high, are smoking it, and some have been showing up in emergency rooms with agitation, hallucinations, vomiting, high blood pressure and elevated heart rates. One of the chemical compounds sprayed on synthetic marijuana – JWH-018 – binds with the brain’s receptors that bind THC, but at four to five times the impact of THC.
Several countries, including Britain, France and Germany have banned K2 and similar products. Additionally, nine states have also banned these products and several others have legislation in development to ban them.
We need to seize the opportunity to get ahead of this problem by taking similar action across the United States.
Oregon National Guard Families Key To Drug Prevention
“How do I help a National Guard member when I don’t know what the problem is?”
“Where does a family member turn when their soldier is in emotional crisis?”
“What is the proper protocol to help an OEF/OIF veteran?”
These are some of the tough questions facing Oregon National Guard families.
The National Guard faces unique challenges in tackling reintegration issues.
Where Soldiers on active duty have access to military health care and the constant support of peers and leaders, National Guard Soldiers spend just one weekend a month with their unit, making it difficult to track changes in behavior and mood. Families serve as a vital link for identifying emotional changes.
How do families get the word, how do they find out what is going on with their Guardsman? The Military Helpline is a confidential resource that can help.
Early detection is the key in helping Soldiers deal with problems – and good communication plays an important role in detecting a problem. Often, family members and friends have pieces of information – things a Soldier has told them or actions they have witnessed – that together paint a clear picture of what a Soldier is going through.
The Yellow Ribbon program provides National Guardsmen and their families with information, services, referrals and proactive outreach opportunities throughout the deployment cycle. These Yellow Ribbon events are scheduled throughout the state and spaced at 30-60-90 intervals. Each soldier is given the information through his unit.
Oregon Partnership’s Military Helpline can furnish the information, resource and referral when needed. Concerned family members are highly encouraged to call (888) HLP-4-VET (888 457-4838) or find us online at www.MilitaryHelpline.org .
We are citizen volunteers here to help Oregon’s citizen soldiers and their families…one phone call at a time.
- David D.