Founded 10 years ago by Barbara Theodosiou, “The Addict’s Mom” (TAM) embraces and unites mothers and other family members who are struggling with a loved one who suffers from the disease of addiction. TAM offers mothers the opportunity for open, honest sharing of their experiences, sorrows, pain, challenges and victories with their children. Their broken spirits find healing, hope and comfort in the darkness of addiction. The mission of TAM is to “Share Without Shame.”
In Barbara’s Words:
“When I discovered that my two sons were using drugs, my life fell apart. For months I felt isolation, desperation and unbearable heartache. I couldn’t function, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t work; all I did was focus on my two sons. My family suffered, my friendships suffered, and I walked away from my own very successful business in order to dedicate myself to my sons, and their illness. Deep inside, I knew that there were many other mothers suffering as I was. I wanted to create a place for all addict’s moms to gather; a safe place where they would have the freedom to share their anguish without the burden of shame and guilt that comes with having an addicted child. Thus, The Addict’s Mom was born.”
ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF “THE ADDICT’S MOM”
TAM is a hybrid organization, accessible both online and in-person. Under Barbara’s expert guidance, “The Addict’s Mom” now numbers approximately 85,000 members, with a chapter in every state. TAM’s public page records over 1 million views per week.
In addition to offering support and understanding to each other, TAM members advocate, educate, and act as liaisons to policy makers and experts in the field of addiction.
In 2016, “The Addict’s Mom” added two momentous accomplishments: Barbara Theodosiou, and “The Addict’s Mom” were recipients of the White House Champion of Change award. President Obama stated that he wished to celebrate individuals who are working at the grass-roots level in
their communities to get people engaged in conversations about a topic of
concern. In the words of White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett:
“Starting at her kitchen table, Barbara’s dedication to supporting
thousands of family members impacted by substance abuse is inspiring.
We are grateful for her service and look forward to honoring Barbara as a
Champion of Change.”
Also in 2016, TAM welcomed as a member Director Michael Botticelli, of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP.) Director Botticelli chose “The Addict’s Mom” as the first participant in a White House initiative that gives the public greater access, through social media, to senior members of the White House administration who craft national policies, create legislation and appropriate funds pertaining to drug addiction.
Director Botticelli hosted several live, online webinars, during which he invited TAM members to ask him questions, tell their personal stories, and make suggestions for reforms in the field of addiction. Through this initiative, Mr. Botticelli presented TAM members with a unique opportunity to have their voices heard by people in positions to assist them in the battle for the lives of their children.
In local communities, TAM sponsors events dedicated to heighten awareness of the addiction crisis, to reduce the stigma, and to promote changes in the legal system affecting those with the disease.
“The Addict’s Mom” collaborates with The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA.)
Every September, which is designated by SAMHSA as National Recovery Month, TAM participates in “Lights of Hope.” LOH is a national and international event during which loved ones of those suffering from addiction light a red candle to represent active addiction, a white candle to signify recovery, a grey candle for those who are incarcerated, and a black candle to commemorate those who have lost their lives to addiction. LOH events are held in all 50 states; participants light candles in homes, parks, churches, auditoriums, and online. In 2016, TAM sponsored over 160 “Lights of Hope” events across the nation. TAM members invite people from their local communities, including law enforcement, representatives
from the treatment sector, and people in recovery who are willing to share their personal stories. TAM members proudly “Share Without Shame” heartfelt stories of their children who are fighting to maintain recovery. Local media, including newspapers and television, report on the event, and conduct interviews with TAM members.
Tragically, Daniel Montalbano, the son of TAM founder Barbara Theodosiou, died in March of 2015. Barbara hosted a very special “Lights Of Hope” ceremony in his memory.
Across the country, mothers from TAM have successfully advocated for the opioid overdose prevention medication to be carried in the vehicles of emergency medical providers. Members also lobbied for hospital ER staff, regular medical practitioners, and parents of addicts to be trained in the administration of the life-saving medication.
A Florida TAM member has proposed a law in her state to make treatment more accessible and more affordable through insurance or the state.
A Florida TAM member has lobbied her state and federal legislators to place an obscure, deadly drug (Kratom) on a watch list to be regulated. In September of 2016, the DEA banned the drug and classified it in the same category as heroin. (The ban has been temporarily lifted until further study.) This brave mom lost her only child to Kratom.
In Kentucky, a TAM member successfully convinced lawmakers and the court system to pass legislation (Casey’s Law) that permits parents to secure guardianship over their adult children, whose substance use has hampered their decision-making abilities. Casey’s Law is gradually being implemented in states across the country. www.caseyslaw.org
In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, TAM members, at the invitation of their local Sheriff’s office, serve as representatives to the Heroin Coalition, which educates the public in prevention and treatment and advocates for reforms.
The new year of 2017 has begun with the addition of a TAM race car! A TAM member, who grew up in the world of racing, is sponsoring a short track race car with “The Addict’s Mom” logo displayed on the hood. The TAM car primarily races at a NASCAR-sanctioned historic track in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The TAM car also competes in Virginia.
More than 17,000 enthusiastic fans cheer for the TAM car every week during racing season! The TAM car participates in one of the most popular sports in the country, giving tremendous exposure to the plight of families whose lives have been devastated by addiction. Barbara and TAM have received many awards and accolades, including:
Also in 2017, TAM members who belong to the TAM advocacy group travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with their lawmakers to advocate for funds for treatment, through the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).
A TAM member was awarded the Addiction Policy Forum’s 2017 Advocate of the Year Award for her efforts in advocating for funding of addiction treatment programs. She represents TAM as a member of a committee that regularly meets with DC policy makers to discuss the drug crisis and its impact on America’s families.
A group of representatives from G2G, the TAM grandparent group, testified at the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging to bring attention to the growing number of senior citizens who are raising their own grandchildren because their children are addicted or deceased from addiction.
Barbara’s work with TAM was awarded the 2014 “Architect of Change” from the Maria Shriver Foundation.
In 2009, Barbara was designated as one of the top 100 “Women of The Year” by Broward County, Florida.
Barbara was presented the 2013 Behavioral Health Advocacy Award by the South Florida addiction community.
CNN Comcast Newsmakers designated Barbara as one of the “People Who Make A Difference.”
Barbara, on behalf of “The Addict’s Mom,” was presented in 2014 with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Florida addiction community. In addition, TAM received treatment scholarships for the children of TAM members.
TAM has been featured on CNN. Barbara and “The Addict’s Mom” are the subject of articles published in The Miami Herald, The Sun Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post, Renew Magazine, and Natural Awakenings, Ohio.
The story of Barbara and Daniel was featured in a CNN online article in 2015. Also in 2015, Barbara participated in a live, online chat on the Parent page of CNN.
Barbara and “The Addict’s Mom” were featured in the February 2015 issue of “The Fix,” a global online addiction magazine. The editors of the magazine have chosen the article about TAM as one of their top ten favorites of the past decade.
Barbara and “The Addict’s Mom,” were featured in the December 2015 issue of The Establishment, an online magazine.
In over 65 online sites, TAM offers specialized groups to its members, including Grieving Moms, Healthy Moms, Spiritual Moms, Moms of Incarcerated Children, and Grandparent to Grandparent. TAM has a Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) group to support mothers of children enrolled in a MAT program. TAM’s latest group is TAM Pregnant Daughters & Addiction.
TAM participates in the FED-UP! annual rally in Washington D.C. TAM where members display a quilt, handmade by volunteers, and dedicated to Daniel Montalbano, beloved son of Barbara Theodosiou. Daniel’s picture is featured in the center square, and is surrounded by the faces of TAM children, many of whom have died. Barbara and TAM members march in front of the White House, along with thousands of people representing addiction awareness advocacy organizations from the entire nation.
TAM hosts an annual “Meet With Barbara” event the weekend of the FED UP! rally to honor and recognize the tremendous efforts of our members, who selflessly volunteer their time for TAM projects.
TAM volunteers partnered with the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department to disseminate information across the country promoting their P.A.A.R.I. program. TAM urges all police departments in the country to consider implementing the P.A.A.R.I. plan, which offers treatment rather than jail to those who suffer from addiction.
Tragically, Barbara lost her beloved Daniel in March of 2015, after a 10-year battle with the Co-Occurring Disorders of Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder. TAM is the author of an article about “The Broken System” of our mental health and prisons when sufferers of Co-Occurring Disorders are patients or prisoners. The article can be found in Insider Online Magazine: http://issuu.com/hcibooks/docs/insider_jan-feb_16
“The Addict’s Mom” solicits written material for its initiative “Voices of The Addict’s Mom.” We ask our members to submit their essays, poems, and journals, detailing and describing their agonies and victories when coping with their addicted child. We publish the “Voices” on our TAM pages, and in our directory, Professionals for The Addict’s Mom.
During her public appearances, speeches, and media interviews, Barbara shares the poignant and heart-wrenching thoughts and reflections from the Voices of TAM members; these are the Voices of mothers who previously were unheard.
“The Addict’s Mom” G2G group for grandparents has published a book, titled: “The Addict’s Mom Presents UNEXPECTED HEROES.” The book details the personal stories and struggles of grandparents who are raising their own grandchildren. Proceeds from the book go to “Everyone’s Child, The Daniel Montalbano Foundation.”
“The Addict’s Mom” publishes an online directory of resources in the treatment industry, entitled Professionals For The Addict’s Mom. The directory is free to our members and contains the names of competent and qualified professionals and other resources in the field of addiction.
“The Addict’s Mom” is so much more than a support group; TAM is a lifeline to our members. For the mother desperate to save her child, “The Addict’s Mom” offers hope and the knowledge that there are thousands of other families fighting for the very life of a loved one. Members have not only emerged from the darkness to share their tragic stories, but they wish to have their voices heard.
Sometimes mothers prefer to grieve in the privacy of their homes. That is one of the wonderful aspects of TAM: moms can reach out and find support ONLINE. In their pajamas, in their bedroom, in the dark hours of the night, ANYTIME they need it, TAM is available. TAM moms are connected for life.
“I want to find every mom who is sitting alone in the dark, with tears
running down her cheeks, feeling broken and desperate.” (Barbara Theodosiou)
Following is Barbara’s favorite quote:
”Never believe that a small group can’t change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Meade)