Mother Reunites With Family After Overcoming Addiction

Christmas will come early for Dixie Callan.

Callan, 25, will get her sons back after the two were put in foster care by Child Protective Services nearly a year ago.

Callan remembers the day she and her boyfriend fought and the police came to the house. Then came drug tests and home visits and finally the day when the social worker told her to pack up clothes for Jayse, 2, and Joseph, 8.

“I remember putting in a teddy bear my grandma gave me into the suitcase,” Callan said.

Callan, who was addicted to methamphetamine, said it took her months to have the confidence to get help.

Her life has not been easy. She had a baby at 16. Her mother committed suicide when she was 17. She was in abusive relationships. Her grandmother paid her bills.

When a former boyfriend pressured her to take drugs, she did.

But today, Callan is drug-free and confident.

She was one of 175 women accepted into Step2 this year.  Started in 1986, the Reno nonprofit provides treatment for chemically dependent women and their families. It includes addiction recovery, counseling and housing.

Step2 said recent state data show that approximately one in five women in Northern Nevada has a substance-abuse problem.

The program has a 60 percent rehabilitation success rate; similar programs across the country average a 17 percent success rate.

“Step2’s success is directly related to the length of the program and the wonderful community support,” said CEO Diaz Dixon. “We could not provide what we have without the generosity of this community.”

After living in Step2’s group home, Callan moved into one of 23 one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages run by the program.

Donations pay for the low-rent apartment’s furniture, which Callan can keep when she eventually moves out on her own.

“I’m so different than I was when I got here,” said Callan. “I love myself now.”

It was something that took counseling and the support from Step2.

Over the past two months, she has had overnight visits with her sons.  She is working full time and wants to go back to school to become a special education teacher.

But for now, the greatest present this holiday season is spending it with her children.

“It means so much to have my kids with me,” she said. In the next few weeks, her sons, who were separated in two foster homes, will permanently move back in with Callan.

She said she is looking forward to starting traditions and being a mom.

“Just cooking breakfast and watching a movie are things I’m looking forward to,” she said. “I know I can take care of myself and my kids, now.”

Op-Ed: Noticing Heroin Addiction Warning Signs

Op-Ed: Noticing heroin addiction warning signs

As director of Alcohol and Other Drug Education Program for UW Colleges, including UW-Manitowoc, I’m frequently asked about the growing problem of heroin addiction and what can be done.

Since I am a prevention educator, I often frame my response in terms of what each of us can do as individuals, family members and friends to prevent the evolution of addiction from happening to those we care about.

Heroin addiction doesn’t happen overnight. For many users, the journey to addiction starts with a legitimate prescription for opiate pain medication and evolves from there. If we understand what this evolution looks like, we are more equipped to notice warning signs, ask questions and get help sooner.

If a patient uses pain medication for a short period of time, as prescribed by a doctor, the likelihood of developing an addiction remains fairly low. Over time, however, people who use opiate pain medication start to develop tolerance. If patients begin to notice their prescribed amount of medication doesn’t seem to work as well anymore, they should speak to their doctor. Many alternatives to pain management besides long-term opiate use are available.

Warning Sign 1 — The individual starts taking larger amounts of pain medication on their own, without consulting a doctor. This is drug abuse. Now is the best time to intervene to prevent further progression toward addiction.

When individuals are taking more than prescribed, they need to increase their supply. That can include getting refills legally at first but often involves finding alternative ways to maintain their supply.

Most prescription drug abusers report getting additional supply from friends and family by asking for it, buying it or stealing it. Sharing prescription drugs is illegal and can contribute to addiction.

You can reduce the risk of drug abuse by dropping off unused prescription medications to a drug drop box. Manitowoc and Two Rivers police departments have permanent drop boxes available at their stations. If you have medications at home, keep them hidden or locked in a safe location.

Warning Sign 2 — The individual is taking prescription drugs that are not prescribed to them.

As the needed dose increases, costs go up and availability of supply can become challenging for individuals. Users also experience withdrawal symptoms if they go too long without opiates.

Warning Sign 3 — Feeling sick when not using opiates.

When experiencing painful withdrawal or pill supply issues, individuals are at high risk for turning to heroin, which is often cheaper and more potent.

Initially, users who turn to heroin may experience a rush in a way they haven’t experienced with prescription drugs for a while. This can be very appealing and increases their desire to continue using heroin.

Warning Sign 4 — Heroin is typically not a recreational drug. If someone is using heroin, it is often an indicator of opiate addiction.

The sooner we — as individuals, parents, family members and friends — recognize warning signs and admit what they are, the more likely early intervention can happen.

Thankfully, growing numbers of multi-agency efforts are happening across our communities and throughout the state. Positive changes are happening legislatively as well as with prevention, intervention, and after-care support services.

We are moving in the right direction.

Wendy Seegers is director of Prevention Programs for the University of Wisconsin Colleges.

Thank You

Am I crazy or does it seem like people are more aware? Don’t get me wrong I know that we have a long way to go but I think we need to all take a moment think about it. So many of us work day and night to at the very least spread awareness that the heroin epidemic is real and that we need to change our thinking when it comes to addiction. How often do you look around to see if you’re making progress? Never, until today for me. It’s like I am in a tunnel and the only thing I see is what needs to be changed. Today I was looking at news articles and wow, there are a bunch of articles being written about what we are fighting every day. The verbiage in most of the articles seem much kinder than a year ago and the reports coming back from many courts seem as though the judges are listening to someone. It’s probably not me, but it might be you. The news organizations are still using those awful needle and spoon pictures for almost every article or news story, but hey they are at least talking about it.

The news organizations are still using those awful needle and spoon pictures for almost every article or news story, but hey they are at least talking about it. ( Contact any reporter you see doing this and kindly ask them to stop, never know it could work. It’s at least a start)

If you work in the recovery industry in any way, do me a favor. Sit back for a moment and think about all the hard work you have done. You are awesome. This is not easy, even if you don’t physically put people into treatment just spreading awareness is tough. For the people that are out there really doing good for all the right reasons, guys, we are doing a good job. There are things happening to benefit people who struggle with addiction, that have never been seen before in our government and within our communities, and it’s because of people like you. It might be because of you.

The people that I talk to every day amaze me with the things that they are working on, have accomplished and just the selfless choices that they make every single day in order maybe, hopefully, or even absolutely help someone that they don’t even know. How cool is that? Isn’t it something to wake up and start your day, not with dread but with passion? It sure is for me.

Now don’t get me wrong I know it gets to be discouraging at times and you wonder if you are making a difference, but guess what, if it was easy they wouldn’t need us. We go to battle every day and get up the next morning start again, and this I want to say thank you to you all.

Thank you for all the hours you put in.

Thank you for telling that jerk, addicts lives matter when he says otherwise.

Thank you for working hard with people who might fail a couple times.

Thank you for admitting your child has the disease of addiction because you never know who might be listening and thinks their alone.

Thank you for supporting a loved one who’s scared to death.

Thank you for sharing awareness meme’s that spread awareness far and wide.

Thank you for telling an active user that they don’t have to die.

Thank you for hugging your child when you feel like you have nothing left to give.

Oh, and Thank you for being stern about money because you need them to live.

Thank you for showing up to events when you would love to stay home.

Thank you for commenting when someone’s reaching out and just needs to know their not alone.

Thank you for reaching out to check on a friend.

Thank you for the laws you have changed.

Thank you for the ribbons on overdose awareness day.

Thank you for the black balloon you hung on black balloon day.

Thank you!

There are thousands of ways that we help one another. You don’t have to do everything to be a hero in my book. In order to beat this, it’s going to take us all. So today I just wanted to reach out and commend every single one of you. We all matter and we all work hard, so if you haven’t heard thank you in a while here it is.

Thank you!


Now What?

Hey guys, sorry I have been kinda absent lately. I have had a ton of stuff going on. I don’t know if you remember or not but a month or so ago I was asking for help finding treatment for my sister in law. Well, we waited and waited and after keeping her in my house for a week she ran off. She truly wanted help and we didn’t find any.
I can’t tell you how heartbreaking that was for me. I couldn’t believe that I spend up to 80 hours a week working tirelessly to help in this epidemic,  have amazing connections and yet  I couldn’t help her find treatment. She was off and running hard and there really wasn’t much hope of stopping her.

The worst part is that every once in a while she would message me and tell me how scared she was. That she didn’t want to live that way. About two weeks in my brother in law left treatment. He has been there for almost 9 months and they kicked him out because he got a dirty urine for Neurontin. I was so angry. Angry at him for taking it and angry at them for being so closed minded that they weren’t willing to give him another shot. They told him he could come back in two days. REALLY? I can’t even believe it as I write it.
He ended up calling his wife who is still in active addiction and the two of them met up with my sister in law. That was a real recipe for disaster. They were selling themselves, stealing, lying and cheating all over the place. A week into the binge my one and two-year-old niece and nephew were taken into custody and put into a foster home. Their parents didn’t bat an eye, they were going to ride this one till the wheels fell off. I don’t know if it was my mother in laws crying or my own guilt for not being able to help but let’s just say I took my computer and went into the basement and made it my personal mission to put the shit to an end.

A few days ago I set my sister in law that was looking for help before up to be picked up by the police and today I was finally able to get my brother in law into custody. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that I made posters of them and sent them to every police station, Walmart and Meijer ( there favorite boosting spots) chase and fifth third bank ( because I learned they had stolen checks from these banks) and every pawn shop within 100 miles of our City. I had their cell phones turned off so it would be harder to reach their dealers and hacked their facebooks and changed the passwords so they wouldn’t be able to reach dealers that way. Now that they are safe the only one that is still out there is my brother in laws wife. I hate this woman. She is the devil. No joke. I won’t even go into the why because it’s awful. The problem though is do I stop with the ones that are important to me?



“Let’s just ban Narcan altogether,” I once heard someone say; “we should just let Darwin do his thing and let all the junkies die off.”

“Junkie.” What an ugly word that is. It brings to mind a dirty emaciated human being, maybe resembling Christian Bale from The Fighter a few years back. They might be wearing tattered Salvation Army clothes. Maybe they live in one of the countless tent cities that stud towns like Brockton and Lowell like pimples on a high school freshman. Worthless, disposable, leeching off our precious taxpayer dollars…a junkie.

This concept, above all others, pisses me off the most about the avalanche of cheap heroin flooding the Northeast. You cannot reduce a person to this level. Yes, actions have consequences. Yes, the only way for an addict to begin recovery is for themselves to be ready to tackle their habit.

And in my time working in a downtown ER in a city that has been in an opiate-induced chokehold for the last few years, I’ve met my fair share of unrepentant addicts. The ones who yell and scream because the Narcan ruined their high. The ones who try and hustle doctors into prescribing them a bottle of Percocet. I’ve even had one patient laugh in my face and tell me that he can OD as many times as he wants and we’ll just keep bringing him back for free.

And when I first started out, I was the most cynical jerk you’d ever meet. I’d rail on and on about how my time was being wasted “saving people from their own stupidity.” I’d grouse about how my less-equipped ER was “cleaning up after the riff-raff” as opposed the more state-of-the-art hospitals in the area. While they dealt with trauma patients and life or death situations, I was holding a basin under someone’s chin as the post-Narcan vomiting set in. They had all of the challenging cases while I was handling overdose after overdose, kowtowing to “those junkies.”

Then one night, a call came in from one of our paramedic trucks. They were bringing in a young man in his 20’s, a victim of a heroin overdose that a friend had found too late. When he passed through the ambulance bay doors he was unresponsive, had a breathing tube down his throat and surrounded swarm of EMTs and paramedics. His face was blue, his skin the color of your fingernails when you squeeze them. We set him up in our trauma bay and went to work transferring him onto a stretcher, hooking him up to our monitor and ventilator, and furiously pounding on this kid’s chest hoping against hope to see some blips on the heart monitor.

Then his father walked in.I’ve never seen more anguish and sadness in a person’s face before or since. I’ve been present for many deaths in the ER, and seeing the family is often the worst part. You do your best, cleaning the patient up, turning town the lights, bringing the family a box of tissues or offering them some water.

But none of that happened – we all were giving 110% trying to bring him back. I was performing CPR with my partner when he walked in, and I wish I’d never looked up. I watched him lay eyes on his son, with wires and tubes in every orifice and a faint trail of blood-tinged froth running up the ventilator hose. He ran over to the side of the bed, his face awash in tears, grabbing his little boy’s hand.

Amidst the clamor of ringing monitors, the puffing of the ventilator and the calls by the doctor to give doses of this or that drug, I heard the father quietly whispering to his son “Come on, ______. Just wake up please. You can do it.” I could tell he’d been preparing for this. I could see it in his eyes that what he had pictured this scenario a thousand times. And that’s what killed me the most.

This is what those would-be evolutionists are calling for. Having someone’s loved one die.

Even typing these words makes my eyes well up a little bit. I know that working in an environment so rife with sadness. I need to be able to detach and push through, and I certainly have. But I’ll be forever haunted by what I saw that night. Occasionally I dream about it, dropping right back into that trauma bay, every detail permanently scorched into my memory.

But there is an upside to all this – I will never call someone a “junkie. I’ll never write a person off because they made a bad choice in life.

“Junkie.” It’s this word that keeps people from seeking detox. “Junkie.” It’s this word that can make even the most compassionate and seasoned professional roll their eyes and mentally tune out. “Junkie.” It’s this word that keeps kids from confessing to their parents that they have a problem.

“Junkie.” This word kills people just as much as the needle itself.

So if you ever want to reduce someone’s kid, someone’s dad, someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend to “a worthless junkie,” you’d better say it out of earshot of me. Because if you don’t, you’re gonna have to deal with me. And I promise you I’ll go as easy on you as you go on them.

~ Anonymous ~

25 to Life

Every time I hear the song 25 to life by Eminem, I don’t hear a song to Hip Hop from an International Entertainer.  I hear myself speaking to the drug/addiction that has done everything it could to destroy me.  I wrote the lyrics, out, but changed a few things.  At the end, I attached the real song.  Tell me what you think.  Can you see what I mean?


I don’t think you understand the sacrifices that I made

Maybe if you acted right I would have stayed

But I’ve already wasted over half of my of my life

I would’ve laid down and died for you,

I no longer cry for you

No more pain bitch, you took me for granted

took my heart and ran it straight into the planet

Into the dirt

I can no longer stand it

Imma take control of this relationship, command it.

Imma be the boss of YOU goddammit.

What I mean is that I will no longer let you control me

So you better hear me out, this much you owe me

I gave up my life for you, totally devoted to you, while I’ve stayed

while I’ve stayed faithful, all the way,

this is how I fucking get repaid

Look how I dress, fucking baggy sweats

Go to work a mess.

Always in a rush to get back to you I ain’t heard you yet

Not even once say you appreciate me, I deserve respect

I’ve done my best to give you nothing less than perfectness

It’s time I end this I have nothing left

but you keep treating me like a staircase,

it’s time you fucking step

I won’t be coming back, so don’t hold your fucking know what you have done no need to get in depth

so don’t hold your fucking breath.

you know what you have done, no need to get in depth

I told you, you’d be sorry if I fucking left

I’d laugh while you fuckin wept

Hows it feel now, yeah, funny ain’t it, you neglected me

Did me a favor although my spirit free

but a special place for you in my hear I have kept

Its unfortunate but it’s

too late

I feel like when I bend over backwards for you all you do is laugh

Cause that ain’t good enough you expect me to fold myself in half

Til I snap


All I do is useI have no life outside of that

I have no life outside of that

Don’t I give you enough of my time

You don’t think so, do you?

Jealous when I spend time with the girls

It feels like I am married to you. But tonight I’m serving you with papers

But tonight I’m serving you with papers

I’m divorcing you

Go marry someone else that can handle you,

your too dangerous

and take away their freedom like you did to me

Treat em like you don’t need them and

they ain’t worthy of you.

Feed em the same shit that you made me eat

I am moving on forget you.










I miss you