In August, Scott Silverman had the opportunity to get involved in the Living Undeterred Tour. Organized by Jeff Johnston, this mental health initiative travels the country, attempting to change minds—and maybe even lives.
In short, Living Undeterred shares the goals of every advocate for ending the opioid crisis and raising mental health awareness:
- End the stigma.
- Start the conversation.
- Provide resources.
Like many fighting in the battle against the opioid crisis, Jeff Johnston’s inspiration for this initiative sprang from tragedy. In 2016, he learned that his oldest son, Seth, had died from an overdose. The culprit? Heroin laced with fentanyl. Jeff decided to take action.
Shortly after his son’s death, Jeff joined Iowa’s Area Substance Abuse Council board. He spoke about his experience its effect on him and his family. He speaks openly about the fact that he slipped into a brief period of alcoholism—and his wife slipped into a period of alcoholism that wasn’t so brief. She passed in 2021.
Jeff’s experience demonstrates the devastating domino effect of addiction, but just as Jaynee Poulson spoke about giving pain a purpose, Jeff out his pain to work. He told his sons, essentially, that they could be angry or they could act, and they chose to act.
In 2020, Jeff and his family founded the Choices Network. Later, he wrote a book called This One’s for You. Finally, to continue spreading the word, he took to the road with the Living Undeterred Tour.
On August 11th, Confidential Recovery and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence San Diego partnered with Jeff Johnston to bring Living Undeterred to the Carlsbad Library.
Jeff served as keynote speaker, giving a talk titled Better, Not Bitter: Living the Undeterred Mindset. Other speakers included:
- the district attorney
- a U.S. attorney
- the chief of San Diego’s narcotics division
- a retired DEA agent
- a representative of a crisis counseling group
- someone from the National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Ryan Rothstein
- Scott Silverman
Experience a taste of the event by watching the live stream here. Key takeaways include:
- Prevention is just as important as prosecution.
- Although fentanyl is the biggest killer right now, we can’t forget about other killers, like methamphetamines.
- Addiction can affect anyone.
- Sharing stories is important in raising awareness and ultimately saving lives.
Help Jeff Johnston and the Living Undeterred movement by joining the fight against the opioid epidemic. There are a few ways you can make a difference:
- Donate. Any amount can help the Choices Network reach more people.
- Share the Don’t Start Initiative. DSI is all about prevention. Give adolescents the tools they need to make positive choices.
- Book a presentation. Bring the Choices Network to your school, event, or meeting to speak with teens, young adults, coaches, teachers, and parents.
In 2016, when Seth died, the CDC recorded 63,600 overdose deaths. In 2021, that number jumped to more than 100,000. How many grieving friends and family members were left behind? How many will be left behind this year?
These men have the same goal—to end the opioid crisis for good. For now, however, they’ll settle for helping one more person enter recovery and save someone from experiencing the grief that Jeff Johnston felt at the loss of his son.
(c) 2022 Scott H Silverman. All Rights Reserved.