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Why I'm Running The NYC Marathon for Partnership to end Addiction

Emily Lawless

Emily Lawless

The pandemic brought a lot to the surface for us all. For my family, it was my brother's substance use disorder. When 2020 began, the combination of isolation, job layoffs, and the stress of everyday life took its toll on each of us. For my brother Joseph, the circumstances contributed to a fast spiral downward of opioid abuse.

On Christmas in 2019, I gifted my two brothers entries to the NYC Spring Half Marathon so we could all train and run together. Joe loved running cross country in his earlier middle/high school days, and asked me to help him get back into it. The race ended up getting cancelled due to Covid-19 and the boys got out of training with me until we could return to normal life. Long story short, the return to "normal life" never happened, along with the race never happening. By Christmas of 2021, my family and I were mourning the loss of Joe, due to an accidental fentanyl overdose, in the middle of a Covid-19 surge. For those of you who don't know what fentanyl is, it's a synthetic opioid that looks exactly like other white-powder looking drugs, but is 100 times stronger than morphine. It's being manufactured illegally and mixed into other drugs like cocaine, heroin and marijuana. In my brother's case, it was the only drug found in his system, so he was sold 100% fentanyl thinking it was something else. According to the CDC's latest data, 88% of all opioid overdose deaths last year were tied to fentanyl. 

What I've learned since speaking up the last few months about substance use disorder/addiction/mental health, is that everyone knows someone who has struggled - it's an epidemic. Addiction is a horrible and complex disease that takes education and resources to completely understand and navigate. Families who have an active member who is struggling need to be made aware that help is available. I wish that my family and I did more work while we still had Joe here with us. What we know now about the disease, specifically around opioid addiction, would have changed our approach to coping with everything ourselves and better supporting Joe in his recovery efforts. Organizations like Partnership to End Addiction are making strides to help educate and support families, we need more of this in the world that we live in today. 

I will be running the 2022 NYC Marathon with Partnership to End Addiction, and I know my brother Joseph will be with me every step of the way. Thank you for reading through my page and considering making a small donation to support the hard work that Partnership to End Addiction is doing to help families find guidance and hope.

With Love & Gratitude, 
*Donations made to Partnership to End Addiction are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. All contributions are fully tax-deductible, as no goods or services are provided in consideration in whole, or in part, of any contribution to this nonprofit organization.  EIN: 52-1736502


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