A nontraditional approach to substance abuse education prevention and awareness is what makes 3moms unique. It brings parents together and puts a face on substance abuse through parent-to-parent contact.
“We encourage parents to spend time with their kids, talk about serious issues like substance abuse and build relationships based on trust and respect in which both the child and parent can be honest with one another,” says Kim Obert, one of the original 3moms and chair of the organization.
Obert lost her son Kent to an accidental overdose of oxycontin when he was 18. Obert, along with several other Valley mothers, approached the Arizona Affiliate of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in 2008 to share stories of their lives and the impact of a child’s drug use on families.
“The moms, along with the Partnership, recognized that it’s not a matter of if but when children are going to be approached to try drugs or alcohol, and that we as a community must do everything we can to keep them from experimenting,” Obert says. “This unique concept of moms talking to moms is to encourage everyone who hears our message to share the information with at least three other moms or caregivers, creating a network that will make a positive impact on our community.”
It is challenging to get teens and parents to communicate about drugs.
“Only one third of teens report that their parents have had a conversation with them about drugs,” Obert says. “We’d like all parents to feel comfortable having this conversation with their children. Would you rather your kids learn about drugs from a friend or older kids? Or would you prefer to have that potentially lifesaving discussion with them? We can help.”
According to Obert, another challenge is getting parents and teens to understand the dangers of abusing medicine that is in their own homes. The intentional misuse and abuse of prescription pain relievers by teens in Arizona is nearly double the national average.
“The problem here is twofold; parents and caregivers aren’t educated on the dangers of prescription and other drug use, and they need to start talking with their kids,” Obert says. “Thankfully, statistics show that when parents and kids talk early and often about drugs, children are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs.”
Getting all of the information out may be challenging, but the heartbreak of losing a child is the real challenge that these moms face.
“I cry and I pray. Cope? I don’t think that I cope. I just live with it,” Obert says. “Since my heart was so broken when my son died, I can share a lot of the emotions — sadness, guilt, grief, anger, and frustration — that parents with drug addicted kids can go through. I try to focus outwardly on the needs of others instead of my own grief.”