Isolina Cachan, First Place Winner, Local Letters for Global Change

Deb Ware shows a photo she took of her son, Sam, 22, on life support from an overdose, in Fountaindale, Central Coast, Australia, Thursday, July 18, 2019. This was hardly the first overdose Sam had experienced since his addiction to pharmaceutical opioids began following a simple wisdom tooth extraction. But she wondered if it would be his last. He had somehow survived more than 60 overdoses in 12 months. Image Courtesy of David Goldman. Australia, 2019.

Deb Ware shows a photo she took of her son, Sam, 22, on life support from an overdose, in Fountaindale, Central Coast, Australia, Thursday, July 18, 2019. This was hardly the first overdose Sam had experienced since his addiction to pharmaceutical opioids began following a simple wisdom tooth extraction. But she wondered if it would be his last. He had somehow survived more than 60 overdoses in 12 months. Image by David Goldman. Australia, 2019. 

This letter features reporting from "An Opioid Addiction, and an Australian’s Battle to Survive” by Kristen Gelineau

Dear Senator Kamala D. Harris,

My name is Isolina (it is a Spanish name) and I am a fifth grader at UCLA Lab School. I am writing to you because of this issue happening around the world called drug addiction. More specifically opioid addiction. I have been told to write you a letter in the span of two weeks, about a problem happening all over the world. The first thing that came to my mind was drug addiction. I have read multiple articles concerning the issue, but one stood out to me: “An Opioid Addiction, and an Australian’s Battle to Survive,” written by Kristen Gelineau. In this article Gelineau shares a story about a working man of 19 years of age with a steady job, taking one dose after it was prescribed to him by his dentist when his wisdom teeth were removed, then not being able to stop, leaving his health, life, and relationship with his mother at stake. In the story of his unfinished battle with opioid addiction, Gelineau puts in mind how this can happen to anybody. After his most extreme stroke collapsing on the floor of a falafel restaurant and having to be put in a medically induced coma by his doctors, when he finally woke up he informed his mom that he was going to quit his opioids and going to start over. “Sam agreed. No more drugs…” then when his mother Deb Ware went to run some errands, Sam (the boy) “popped into a doctor’s office and got himself a prescription for an opioid and a benzodiazepine.” This shows that this can happen to almost anybody who can get their hands on these very addictive drugs.

Therefore this could be a problem happening anywhere I go. In my neighborhood, At my school, In your neighborhood. Even as I walk down my street, I observe drug addicts stumbling one step after another while loudly speaking to themselves, dressed in clearly unwashed clothes, ripped, and dirty, posing a danger to our community and to themselves. But disappointingly, the only way I am able to help is writing this letter to you, hoping that you will be able to help these people so they can turn their lives around. In our school we all want to be reporters, politicians, artists, professional athletes, singers, doctors, actors, directors, lawyers, litigators, a Navy Seal, astronauts, and architects. But all these drugs, so easy to reach in our communities, could keep us from those dreams.

We are all humans, and we all have our ups and downs in life. As we get older there will be many challenges thrown our way. One prescription, one temptation, one wrong medicine jar, could change our lives (and not for the better). This is why you should help as many people you can, by making it harder to purchase addictive drugs. Also if they have already have an addiction to any drug please help those people so they can turn themselves around, start or continue the life that they want, and that is better for them. Please make sure that you are giving them the best health care possible as well as any other person no matter their income and or family financial status. Thank you for taking your time to read my letter, and I hope you have learned more about this ongoing issue in our community.

Sincerely,

Isolina


Isolina Cachan is a 5th grade student at the UCLA Lab School is Los Angeles, California.