Board of Directors
The following individuals make up ARPO’s Board of Directors:
- Pete Jackson, President
- Ada Giudice-Tompson, Vice President
- Ellen Arnold, Secretary
- Sandra Kresser, Treasurer
- Kirk Van Rooyan, MD
Board Member Biographies:
On August 18, 2006 we lost our sweet, funny, bouncy, friendly 18 year-old daughter Emily to one OxyContin pill. I had never heard of OxyContin. She was three days from her first day in college, her life ahead of her. She is buried across the street from the college where she was to attend classes. I stand at her grave, and I look across the street at the place where her future was to begin.
I subsequently learned that many other young people (and many not-so-young people, including those taking OxyContin as prescribed by a doctor) have died or become addicted to this drug. So I became involved in the fight to stop the deaths from this and other prescription opioids. I have regained some sense of purpose in my life working to try and save other young people who would otherwise suffer at the hands of OxyContin or other potent narcotics being pushed on an unsuspecting American public.
Ada lives in Ontario, Canada, is a retired Secondary School Teacher and Assistant Head of Business, wife, and bereaved mother.
On June 10, 2004 Ada’s life was changed forever. Michael her only child died suddenly and unexpectedly from an opioid which was prescribed to him by his doctor. He went to bed and never woke up.
Ada did not return to teaching but became a full-time advocate for the reform of prescription opioids. She believes that the loss of a child is the most heart-wrenching, life altering and soul-wracking experience. Ada credits her grief as the compelling force behind her passion and new found courage and strength in fulfilling her advocacy to save others.
I became involved with ARPO because of my 24 year old daughter. She became addicted to OxyContin the first time she smoked it at her graduation party when she graduated from Martin County High School in 2004. That was 6.5 long years ago. Since that time she has been in six inpatient rehabs, three intensive outpatient programs, three halfway houses, and a drug program at the St. Lucie County jail. She has been arrested numerous times and she still continues to use the drug and will do almost anything to get it. It has destroyed her mind, her future, and has almost destroyed our entire family. This is not something that I ever imagined could happen to my family.
I am outraged at the Florida government that continues to allow the so called “pain clinics” that seem to be everywhere selling lethal drugs that are the equivalent of heroin to anyone who walks in off the street. Meanwhile seven people die every day in this state alone from overdosing on these drugs. Since Florida provides about 75 percent of all the OxyContin prescribed in the United States I suspect the Florida pill mills are responsible for many more deaths than that. How can this be allowed to continue? Why, even after mountains of proof and thousands of needless deaths, can these drugs continue to be prescribed with no restrictions at all?
I am willing to do whatever it takes to make this madness STOP! I want to be part of the solution. I think ARPO is a way to do that.
In 2004 my son Josh, then 22 years old, injured his back at work resulting in two herniated discs. His doctor first prescribed Methadone to him for the pain and two weeks later switched him to OxyContin. Four days after receiving the prescription for OxyContin he overdosed for the first time. From that point forward he plunged headfirst into an addiction so powerful that no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t break free. Over the next 2.5 years he spent over 404 days in treatment trying to overcome his addiction. He overdosed five different times and for a brief time switched to heroin. After completing his third and final inpatient treatment, where he spent six months, he went to see a neurologist to see if he was a candidate for disc replacement surgery because his back was still bothering him. Josh shared with this doctor his complete history of opiate addiction, heroin use, multiple overdoses, rehabs and relapses and the fact that he was taking Ativan, which was being closely monitored by his psychiatrist. This neurologist ignored all of this and prescribed Vicodin and Soma to Josh. Two days later Josh passed away from a lethal combination of Vicodin, Soma and Ativan, all taken as directed and at therapeutic levels.
From that point forward I vowed to do whatever I could to spare another mother from suffering the devastating loss of a precious child due to the inappropriate overprescribing of powerful narcotics. I am very involved on a local and national level fighting the prescription drug epidemic.
Dr. Van Rooyan is a board-certified Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon who was in private practice in California for 30 years and a clinical associate professor at UC Davis Medical School, and is a consultant for the Medical Board of California.
In July, 2004, his stepson, Patrick Stewart, died from respiratory depression after ingesting a single OxyContin tablet given to him by a friend at a party. Patrick had just graduated from college and was a certified fitness trainer who did not use drugs of any kind. Dr. Van Rooyan and his wife then became involved in the effort to reduce the inappropriate marketing, prescribing, and harm from prescription opioid drugs, filing a petition with the FDA in 2005, testifying in numerous FDA hearings, and working with private and government entities to educate medical professionals, the media, and the public.