Getting Rid of Unneeded Prescriptions Safely

November 29, 2010

Recently my father-in-law passed away after a long illness, and one of the tasks associated with taking care of family business was to get rid of all his prescription medicine. As he had been in poor health for several years, we packed up a cardboard box full of pills, inhalers and other prescriptions, and set about finding how to get rid of them safely.

As a start, I called the Los Angeles County Public Health Department; they referred me to the LA County Sheriff’s Office. I called the number on their website. They referred me to a local Sheriff’s Station in East Los Angeles. I called this office, and after a couple of transfers I was speaking with one of the deputies. She told me that they had a safe disposal box in front of their station.

A few minutes later, I drove to the station and sure enough, there were two bins: one marked for “illegal drugs” and one for prescription drugs. I disposed of my father-in-law’s vast collection (including some morphine) in the prescription bin, wondering as I did so who would come to dispose of illegal drugs in the other bin.

Even though it took me a few phone calls to get the right information, this was a simple process. I was informed that many, but not all, of the Sheriff’s Substations in Southern California have these disposal bins conveniently placed near their entrances.

This seems like a good idea! Perhaps we could start a campaign to make this happen in Oregon. What do you think?



OLCC Bans Four Loko and other Alcoholic Energy Drinks

November 24, 2010

Great news! The Oregon Liquor Control Commission voted 4-1 in favor of an immediate six month ban on seven alcoholic energy drinks. Here’s their wording:

“No licensee may sell or offer for sale Core High Gravity HG Green, Core High Gravity HG Orange, Lemon Lime Core Spiked, Moonshot, Four Loko, Joose and Max, which contain the “unsafe food additive” of caffeine and which were determined to be “adulterated” products on November 17, 2010 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ”

This is a great outcome. It’s a temporary ban that only applies to the products identified by the FDA, but it’s a terrific beginning.

Thanks to all those who helped bring decisive action on the part of the OLCC.


Military Family Month

November 23, 2010

President Obama has proclaimed November Military Family Month, noting that military family members “serve,” too, and also require community support.

“I call on all Americans to honor military families through private actions and public service for the tremendous contributions they make in support of our service members and our nation,” the President said in his proclamation.

Experts in both the military and civilian sectors found that the U.S. will be facing increasing addiction and mental-health problems among returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghan war. All returning veterans face adjustments, but for some, dealing with traumatic experiences can lead to diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, substance abuse and addiction. These problems not only affect the individual, but can have a profound impact on families and communities.

The Military Helpline is here for military families to use as a free, confidential resource. Not only for dire needs, such as suicide or PTSD, but for assistance in navigating the system so that families can get the benefits and support they’re entitled to.

We are so thankful for the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices of every person who has served – either as a member of the military or of the family that serves as well. Make sure they know assistance is available by spreading the word about this 24/7 service. 888-HLP-4-VET (888) 457-4838 – or on the web at


Helping Our Veterans Shoulder The Load

November 12, 2010

(Editor’s note: Lon Getlin is CEO of Cashco Distributors in Portland. He was a Marine Corps platoon leader in Vietnam and later became a fighter pilot)

I’ll always remember the moment: Sgt. Mendoza approached me following a talk I had given to a group of Wounded Warriors the previous evening. In his hand was a small card–a gift for me–on which was featured the parable about the man of faith who regularly noticed two sets of footprints, his and his Lord’s, as he walked the beach. The man never understood why there was often only one set of footprints in the sand when his struggles seemed overwhelming. He assumed the single set was his, and questioned why the Lord abandoned him in times of great need. The Lord explained that He had never abandoned the man, but instead carried him through those difficult times.

Sgt. Mendoza thanked me for sharing my story of how I overcame my own sometimes debilitating struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, and when I finished Sgt. Mendoza’s card, he said to me, “Mr. Getlin, what you said last night meant a lot to me, and I now feel I also have your footprints in the sand next to mine.” I was moved to tears by his gentle gesture, and in realizing how little effort it takes to make a profound difference in the lives of the courageous men and women who fight America’s wars.

Sgt. Mendoza was seriously wounded in the ferocious Battle of Fallujah. Though he survived, many of his Marine buddies did not. So severe was his survivor-guilt PTSD that a few months ago he was seconds from a fatal leap off a bridge when a passing motorist talked him off the railing and took him to a hospital.

As we consider the meaning of Veterans Day, all of us must take to heart the monumental debt of gratitude we owe our veterans, each of whom writes a blank check pledging to pay whatever the price to ensure America’s peace, security and prosperity. When we see them in the airport, at a restaurant with their families, at a soccer field with their children, in a bus or train station – or, yes, homeless on a street corner – think of the blank check they wrote to each of us. We owe these men and woman so very much, and certainly more than we can ever repay.

Nowhere is the debt greater or need more urgent than in Oregon, where National Guard soldiers have repeatedly deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Oregon is one of only six states with no military base sufficient in size to provide the desired level of continuing support to veterans and their families, many of whom reside in rural areas where support services are minimal, if they exist at all, and where unemployment equals that of the Great Depression.

We must ask serious questions: What do our veterans receive in return for their service? Are we helping them find gainful employment? Are we doing enough to help these warriors and their families understand and cope with PTSD, strained relationships, substance abuse and thoughts of suicide – all of which are far too often byproducts of repeated combat tours?

To our warriors, I say this: You are not alone! The non-profit Oregon Partnership, working closely with the Oregon National Guard, offers confidential guidance and counsel through our civilian Military Helpline (888-457-4838; 888-HLP-4-VET). We are available for you 24/7. We appreciate your sacrifice, understand your issues and we can help you!

What can you do to put your footprints in the sand next to those of a veteran? On this Veterans Day, ask yourself what more you can do for those veterans who have done so very much for you!

– Lon

Veterans Day for a Vet

November 10, 2010

Veterans Day has been celebrated since 1938 when it was originally known as Armistice Day, named after the armistice of World War I that concluded on November 11th, 1918. After World War II, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day so the country could honor veterans from all wars. President Eisenhower proclaimed: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose”.

This year, Veterans Day has been a week long event. It started on Saturday with the Portland Trail Blazers hosting Military Appreciation Night during their game with Toronto. The staff at Oregon Partnership was able to obtain two tickets for my wife and me to attend. I was unaware they had planned to acknowledge me during the game. Halfway through the second quarter, the announcers asked the crowd to take a moment to honor a few guests, and the first one was me.

In front of thousands in attendance, my photos were displayed along with a great one of me taking a call on the crisis lines. Then, they expressed how I currently work on the Military helpline and showed me standing at my seat so I could tip my hat to the huge ovation that brought tears to my wife’s eyes.

This Veterans Day, I am able to provide support to fellow veterans on the Military Helpline, 888-HLP-4-VET.  I cannot think of a better way to spend the day.

Veterans Day provides me with an opportunity to feel good about what I’ve accomplished, to appreciate fellow veterans, and the current military, and honor the soldiers who were never able to return home as veterans.

I would like to wish all veterans an outstanding holiday and thank them for their hard work and the sacrifices they have made to protect our way of life.

– Josh

The Rescuers

November 9, 2010

I have observed that most people who are drawn to this kind of work – helping people in crisis – have a certain disposition…. We’re rescuers.  We want to save people.  While this is a very noble quality, it’s a quality to watch out for because, unchecked, it could get us into a “mess”.

When someone calls and explains a particular problem, we rescuers immediately rush to the caller’s side to offer support and a listening ear.  This is often called empathy and is a wonderful quality of a rescuer.  When someone calls and attributes their emotional suffering to a specific individual’s wrong doing, we will often rush to protect our caller– we may immediately want to say “yes, you are right, they are wrong, they are awful.”

In supporting our caller, we need to support them in their relationship with the other person.  For that reason, we train our call workers to do something that may be a little counter-intuitive at first, but helps the caller feel more empowered to deal with their situation.   We train to focus on the caller – What other ways can the caller try to use to deal with this person?

We train our call workers to recognize when they may be engaging in what is commonly referred to in social systems psychology as a “triangle” – each of three people are playing a role in a two person relationship – rescuer, persecutor, and victim.  The caller is usually the victim, the call worker the rescuer, and the third party the persecutor.  When the call worker accepts the role of the third party as a persecutor, they have committed themselves to this triangle, in which there is no clear “winner”, but only cycling tension by making judgments about the third party through the caller’s perceptions. They are also accepting the role of the caller as a victim.

We can help our callers see themselves as their own rescuers – someone that has the power to begin to change their own lives.

– David C.

Surviors of Suicide Day

November 5, 2010

National Survivors of Suicide day is Saturday, November 20, 2010. This is a day of healing for survivors of suicide loss; it is an opportunity for survivors to ask the questions: “Why did this happen?” “How do I cope?”

For some individuals, every day may be a day of surviving a suicide loss. This is the case in my family…over 20 years ago my husband killed himself, leaving behind three beautiful sons, a widow, and a former wife. As the widow, I shouldered a great deal of the disaster left in the wake of his death. However, I had no exclusive claim to the grief and sadness which we all struggled with.

Grief is such an individualized emotion…everyone experiences it in a unique manner. The sadness and loss that my family struggled with led us to a unique solution. My husband’s first wife, M., and I decided that we would raise our boys together. To put it another way, we would remain a family unit. Thankfully, we lived two blocks apart…the boys would go back and forth between their moms’ homes with ease. All birthdays, holidays and vacations were spent together. Laughs and tears were shared as well.

As single moms, M. and I would constantly commiserate. One day I’d be on the phone with her pleading with her to take my son for an overnight…no problem. The next time it would be her turn. They were driving her crazy…could I take the boys for the weekend? Absolutely.

Has this solution paid off for all concerned? You be the judge…my oldest stepson and his wife recently had a beautiful baby boy. Last week M. and I flew to San Francisco to be a part of his baptism…we shared a lovely hotel room together. All our sons were present. When M. and I arrived at the house there was great excitement that “the moms are here”.

During the service there was a reading of important people who were deceased. My husband’s name was read. Did this impact me? Of course…but any tears that were shed by me that day were for the beauty and optimism inherent in welcoming this little person to the world.

There is life after suicide.