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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UHS Plans Trip to DC for Addiction Advocacy Event

The University of Massachusetts Boston Health Services is working to organize a trip down to Washington, DC, for a large-scale addiction advocacy event, ‘The Day the Silence Ends,’ on October 4. Administrators hope to subsidize bus tickets for students, and invite the Boston community to come along and form fellowship over the topic of substance abuse.

Event programming begins at 4 P.M. on the lawn beside the Washington Monument. Elected officials, advocates, and celebrities have signed on to speak about the effects of addiction. Tyler Perry of Aerosmith, The Fray, Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Sheryl Crow, and more will perform.

The non-profit responsible for the planning, Facing Addiction, predicts attendance will be in the tens of thousands, according to their website.

Linda Dunpy, the Director of the University Health Services Health and Wellness Program, helms the UMass Boston initiative to participate.

“[This trip] would help to advance what we are trying to accomplish at [UMass Boston], which is to build community around alcohol and drug recovery, raise awareness for the promise of recovery, and address stigma.”

Dunpy says upwards of one hundred individuals have shown interest. She encourages students in recovery, those affected by drug abuse, or social justice activists to come along.

Logistics for the trip have not been cemented. Dunpy suspects the group will leave on Saturday, stay the night in DC, and  head back to Massachusetts after the rally on Sunday. She is investigating cheap housing through hostels and local churches. With the assistance of a grant, she will subsidize the round-trip bus ticket prices for students to around $50. 
“I think an event like this is essential at this point,” says a UMass Boston student, who asked to remain anonymous. Her 26-year old brother has struggled with a heroin addiction that has brought him in and out of rehab facilities and the court system.
“I grew up with an alcoholic mother. When I was 12 it hit the boiling point – pretty standard Lifetime movie-style physical, emotional, and verbal abuse between her and my father.”
“This is going to get real,” she says, her voice cracking.
“I had my jaw broken when I was 11. That was a long time ago, she is seven years sober now.”
Six hundred and thirty three organizations nationally have partnered to mobilize for ‘The Day the Silence Ends,’ alternatively named ‘UNITE to Face Addiction. Thirty-five of them hail from Massachusetts.
Dunpy invites people from the Boston community to join the trip to ‘The Day the Silence Ends. She says the university has increasingly supported outreach efforts, as well as student recovery.
Opioid abuse has steeply escalated in the Commonwealth since the turn of the millennium. Three hundred and thirty eight people died from opioid-related circumstances in the year 2000. Authorities estimate the death toll reached a staggering 1,008 last year. Upticks in weekend overdoses last summer prompted then Governor Patrick to declare the “epidemic” a public health crisis.
Dunpy was inspired to plan the trip after hearing Facing Addictions co-founder and documentary filmmaker, Greg Williams speak at a conference at Ohio State University. They initially met him when UMass Boston hosted a premier of the Williams’ film, ‘Anonymous People’ in fall 2013.
“Policy makers pay attention to people, voters, constituents, etc. and this event will finally establish the addiction community as a community or consequence,” says Donald MacFarland, Communications Director of Facing Addiction.
For more information about ‘The Day the Silence Ends’ trip, contact Linda Dunpy at: [email protected].