In this podcast, Gina sits down with Carmen Capozzi and Shannon Gazze of Sage’s Army to discuss how this movement to educate and help people struggling with addiction started.
Gina Thorne: Hi everyone, this is Gina Thorne, and welcome back to the Lakeview Podcast Series. I am joined today with Carmen Capozzi and Shannon Gazze, with Sage’s Army. Welcome, gentlemen.
Carmen Capozzi and Shannon Gazze: Thank you for having us.
Gina: It’s great to have you here. We’re very excited to have you here in Jacksonville, FL, visiting our facility but we’re also equally excited to hear more about Sage’s Army. Carmen, this is your program, you launched it. I’m very interested in hearing more about it, so what was it that got you engaged with doing this particular project?
Carmen: Um, the death of my son, Sage. March 5th, 2012, he overdosed on heroin and cocaine and 10 days later Sage’s Army was started as a Facebook page and it blew up to 1,800 people in 24 hours and now it’s over 8,000 people all over the United States and we’re just creating awareness; awareness, compassion, and action. We’re trying to build up the recovery community and our goal is to fill in the gaps, open up the doors to find what’s lacking and point people in the right direction. Find the good programs out there that are working.
Gina: Did you feel like you ran up against problems like that with your son and so that was one of your reasons for putting this together?
Carmen: Oh yeah, absolutely. It was tough. We didn’t understand it and as a parent, we are also supporting other parents who don’t understand. I mean, you really see how…
Gina: It’s overwhelming, really. How to access the right recourses, if you’re a parent that’s not knowing what to do and where to direct them, it’s great to have a resource like you all to help them with that roadmap. That’s great.
Carmen: Thank you.
Gina: So this is an impressive legacy that you’re leaving for your son and we’re excited that we are able to share this out in the masses with folks. I’m interested also in learning about the specific nature of the program, Shannon. What can you tell us about the program and its focus on prevention and intervention?
Shannon Gazze: Sure. As Carmen mentioned, the heart of our organization is our Facebook group that has almost 8,300 members. It works as a peer to peer support group for parents that are just getting into this world, they didn’t know that their children were doing anything, let alone addicted to drugs and the statistic right now is that the average child is addicted for about two years before their parents eventually find out the scope of what’s happening. So if they go on to our Facebook page, they can find support right away from 30 or 40 other parents who have been through the same things. We have resource support pages on our website at SagesArmy.com that provide local, as well as some national resources as far as 12-step groups and when they meet, and links to those, also as far as local providers and we have regular meetings with our local providers.
Unfortunately in our county we do not have any inpatient facilities and so we are always interested in how to improve the system. We are a grassroots organization, we don’t have any clients, we’re a volunteer organization, but we do have lots of people that we care for and that we treat as clients and so we want to advocate for them. We had success in the last year of passing in Pennsylvania the Good Samaritan 911 law and also a medical monitoring bill for prescription drugs and both of those are going to help our client base, those we care for, to manage the system a little better so we are always looking for any improvements we can make in that system. So we also advocate on a national level at the Fed Up Rally every year in Washington D.C. The prescription drug epidemic and the amount of opioids that are being produced and sold in our country has basically just poured fuel on the fire.
The typical addict doesn’t necessarily look like what somebody might have a picture in their mind right now. They’re anywhere from 18 to 60-something years old and for the most part, from what we hear, kids generally get started around age 13 and so there’s such a need for treatment and the current governmental system doesn’t always provide the full continuum of care so we’re basically looking at filling the gaps that the treatment providers, by the nature of the system, kind of leave behind. I believe that everybody in the system is there because they want to be helpful at least at the start, but we’re there to kind of light a fire under them and make sure that they’re doing the things that they’re supposed to be doing as well as trying to make improvements.
Gina: It’s great that you have that advocacy component and it’s there because that’s the only way change is going to happen and we saw that with parity recently, so your organization, obviously, and most things that are successful happen at the grassroots level. I’m glad to hear that you all are making those strides. So if someone needed to reach out to Sage’s Army, how could they get in touch with you all?
Carmen: Though Facebook. It’s Sage’s Army on Facebook. We have a private page and we have an open page, and then the website, SagesArmy.com.
Gina: Ok, great. Well thank you guys so much for taking the time to come out and visit with us here in Jacksonville. We’re thrilled to have you and best of luck with the movement you guys have created and we of course are very supportive of that.
Shannon: Thank you. It’s a beautiful facility.
Gina: Thanks!away, we ask you to call us at 866-887-0142.
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