Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Mar 8, 2021

Jessie Dunleavy is the author of a newly released memoir, Cover My Dreams in Ink, the story of her son Paul's life. The memoir portrays Paul’s uphill battle with disabilities and Jessie's fight to ensure Paul had an appropriate education and suitable health care. In addition, the book details the fight for Paul's life as he entered the harrowing world of addiction.  

Furthermore, Jessie shares what she's learned as a result of raising a child with differences. Also, she talks about the tragic overlay of failed systems that too often short-change the most vulnerable among us. Ultimately, Paul's death was preventable, and Jessie has become a staunch advocate for drug policy reform. Also, she’s committed to helping others who cope with the challenges of a substance use disorder, as well as the loss of a child. She’s also dedicated to fighting the stigma that has crippled needed reform.

In this interview we talk about the need for legislative change in addressing the overdose crisis and the impediments to getting legislation introduced and passed. Also, Jessie reads some of Paul's writings. Have a tissue handy as you listen to this interview but listen to it. Finally, we need you. We need everyone to be as educated on this topic as possible and to advocate for change. 

Episode Highlights:

  • First, Jessie explains why she's passionate about advocating for legislative change.
  • Her son, Paul, died of a heroin and fentanyl overdose in 2017 at age 34. 
  • Paul's addiction started in his early 20s.
  • Addiction is a relapsing condition and Paul relapsed several times.
  • Unfortunately relapse is viewed as a failure.
  • Too many treatment facilities don't offer all of the needed services.
  • Next, Emily asks Jessie what advice she'd give to parents whose children are using drugs.
  • Coerced treatment isn't effective.The person has to be ready for treatment.
  • The addicts need love and support. Further shaming them isn't helpful.
  • Also, parents need help too and shouldn't feel shame.  
  • Abstinence isn't the only goal per Jessie. In fact methadone can save lives.
  • Know how to seek effective treatment and find a center that will provide options and explain the data.
  • Jessie explains the difference between the US and other countries in terms of treatment of addicts.
  • We should embrace harm reduction and effective treatment medications.
  • Jessie talks about harm reduction for drug users; for example, clean syringes.
  • The United States is behind the curve, when compared to other countries, in several areas regarding addressing the opioid crisis.
  • The stigma is keeping legislators from passing needed laws because their constituents tend to not support them.
  • Furthermore, Paul was on the upswing at the time he passed away.
  • Next, Jessie explains the circumstances surrounding Paul's death.
  • Suboxone prolongs life yet, many people look down on the use of Suboxone and there are restrictions on prescribing it.
  • Jessie talks about her book: Cover My Dreams in Ink.
  • Paul was an incredibly talented poet.
  • Cover My Dreams in Ink is a line from one of Paul’s poems.
  • Jessie reads Paul's poem: Pleading with Gravity. Make sure you have a tissue handy.
  • We all make mistakes. There is no perfect parent.
  • Emily asks Jessie what she learned about herself in writing the book.
  • Jessie has a close relationship with her daughter and shares how her son's situation impacted her daughter.
  • Next, Jessie reads another of Paul's writings.
  • One of Paul's disabilities was a hand tremor and because of that, he got really frustrated when writing.
  • Finally Emily asks Jessie what advice she wants to share with the listeners regarding legislation to address the opioid crisis.

Resources Mentioned: