On Tuesday October 1st, the very same day that our federal government shut down, ARPO and many other advocate organizations from around the country came together to put on a rally to call for an immediate, coordinated and comprehensive federal response to end the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths. On a day when the media were following President Obama and other top politicians around and news anchors were standing with the Capitol dome behind them so as to appear to be “on the scene”, right under their noses was a little bit of history in the making. American citizens (and some friends from Canada) came to partake in a fundamental right to speak out and say ENOUGH – we are FED UP! at the lack of an appropriate federal response to what has become our Nation’s most serious public health crisis. The rally was followed by a march to the Department of Health and Human Services, where a demonstration was held to demand that Secretary Sebelius implement the elements in the Fed Up! Rally Platform (visit feduprally.eventbrite.com to see the platform.) More than 500 people came and participated.
The rally began with the most breathtaking speech I have ever heard – a young woman in recovery told of her fall into the throes of addiction. She had everything, her potential was unlimited – but it can happen so easily, as it did to her. Six politicians, all of whom were in the midst of meetings across the street trying to end the governmental shutdown, made good on their commitment and spoke at the rally nonetheless: Senators Schumer and Manchin, Reps Rogers, Rahall, Schakowsky, Higgins and Grimm. Several doctors spoke, including Andrew Kolodny and Steve Gelfand, along with many family members. The demonstration featured more family members and a reading of the names of lost loved ones.
On Tuesday October 1st, while our government was shut down and the politicians were locked in a stalemate, something big happened in Washington. Out of it all emerged a new coalition – the Fed Up! Coalition – that is already making plans to carry our collective synergy forward until we achieve our goal – end the epidemic of opioid death and addiction. Thanks to all who attended and made this a historic day in this fight.