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The Smoking Gun Series - Is it time for an Investigation into Drug-Free Kids and their Finances?Marianne Skolek, Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter
Drug overdose deaths in the US have soared while much money is being made.
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - In recent years, I have had the good fortune of communicating with Mike White while he headed DIRECTV. He impressed me as being a "hands on - take charge" CEO who ran a tight ship.
Earlier this month, Mike became Chairman of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and my level of concern was peaked. Why would Partnership need the expertise of communications and technology while the country is being ravaged by addiction and death to prescription opioids/heroin?
So let me ask you some questions Mike that you may or may not have answers to. Directly below is a link to drug overdose deaths in the US which have soared. This is also being reported by Reuters and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
But Partnership doesn't post a "troubling record", but rather posts something that is not misleading, but rather a complete distortion of facts.
It is: Drug Use Declines Among American Youth: Teen Use of Ecstasy, Heroin, Synthetic Marijuana,... The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future...drugfree.org Partnership doesn't stop there Mike, they promote a program called "Above the Influence" or ATI as a popular and proven-effective drug and alcohol prevention initiative created for American youth.
With an online community of over 1.5 million young people, the program has an active, robust audience. ATI is the only prevention program of its kind that exists in the U.S. for American teens and there is no other initiative that works to prevent substance abuse and addiction on a national level.
I hate to break this to you Mike, but this initiative is not preventing substance abuse and addiction on a national level. Parents are burying their kids in record numbers and for Partnership to focus on words such as "popular and proven-effective" is a disservice to families in all 50 states.
Partnership promotes "parent coaches" and "volunteers" who call themselves employees of Partnership. These parent coaches/volunteers are enjoying the perks of Partnership in staying at the best hotels and eating at the finest restaurants while families looking for rehabilitation treatments for their loved ones are being told in every state -- "there are no beds available." And the loss of life mounts contrary to Partnership focusing on false reporting of numbers dropping in the prescription opioid/heroin health crisis.
On December 8, Partnership held an event called "Winter Wish Gala" at the elegant Gotham Hall on Broadway in New York City. A photo of the elaborate festivities is shown in this article with attendees wearing their finest and employees/parent coaches/volunteers being rewarded with trophies.
Must have cost quite a sum of money to provide all the trappings for this night of recognition -- as the death toll to prescription opioids/heroin mounts out of control.
Kind of hypocritical Mike as parents are burying their children and Partnership celebrates with a "gala". Do you have any idea how many beds could have been provided for in-house treatment for addiction to families of young people dying every day?
By the way, how many kids has Partnership provided in-house addiction treatment for to save their lives? Do you actually think parent coaches/volunteers for Partnership have the qualifications to treat addiction? I think we both know the answer to that.
Recently I received this email from Partnership (condensed):
My two sons Jason and Jared were polite, popular, multi-sport, all-star athletes. They had a wide network of friends, good morals and values, and good grades in school.
Then, my older son Jason suffered a sports injury and was prescribed painkillers. Seemingly overnight, he became one of the hundreds of thousands of teens in our country addicted to prescription (Rx) painkillers.
So many people are addicted to prescription painkillers that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in America, surpassing car crashes. And Rx painkiller abuse has led to an increased use of an even more deadly, accessible, and cheaper opiate: heroin.
Please make a tax-deductible gift to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids today, so that we can put an end to the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction that is gripping our nation.
A couple of things, Mike, regarding the email above. Since Partnership is heavily funded by the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, you may not be aware but the word Purdue Pharma focuses on is "abuse".
It takes the focus off the prescription opioid epidemic they created by marketing OxyContin to physicians as less likely to be addictive. Their action has led to the heroin epidemic "gripping our nation." And the word the maker of OxyContin cringes at the sight of is "addiction". So Mike if you're asking for donations to Partnership, why are you not outraged that Purdue Pharma received approval from the FDA to prescribe OxyContin to children? The FDA made this life-threatening decision based on Purdue Pharma's own studies on the use of OxyContin in children.
Would you believe the studies put together by convicted felons? More importantly why hasn't Partnership demanded the FDA rescind their approval of OxyContin for children? And your revenue and expenses Mike -- what exactly has Partnership accomplished in combating this out of control prescription opioid/heroin epidemic? The numbers are rising of deaths and addictions -- just as your revenue is rising. Something smells here Mike and I hope you don't disappoint me in getting to the answers. Galas don't change the soaring numbers of deaths. Tee-shirts and beanies being peddled by Partnership do not change the numbers.
Unqualified parent coaches/volunteers do not change the numbers, but the benefits derived by these individuals certainly keeps them out there pitching erroneous information to naïve parents. Am I convinced an investigation into Partnership for a Drug Free Kids finances is warranted? You bet I am.
Next article in the "Smoking Gun" series - more on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
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