I’m a nurse and a mother of two sons in Monroe, Wisconsin. My older son was always very involved in the community growing up, participating in sports and Boy Scouts. But, like many other teenagers, he occasionally did drugs and drank alcohol.
He soon became severely addicted to pain medication. He signed himself into inpatient rehabilitation, but the addiction was too strong. The addiction led to heroin, and he eventually found himself in prison.
One day, I stumbled across a map of Wisconsin that showed a huge increase in the number of overdoses in the state from 2008 to 2012. When my son was taken away, I thought my world had ended. But later I realized he had received a second chance at life—at least I didn’t have to worry about him becoming one of those statistics. In that moment, I realized I had to do something to make a positive change. That’s how my mission began.
In 2015, I founded the nonprofit FAITH, or Fighting Addiction: It Takes Help. It started with a community walk/run to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day, where more than 300 people participated. Now we raise awareness about the dangers of addiction through education for children and adults, and we provide support for families struggling with addiction through networking and resources such as articles and books. After receiving Walden’s 2015 Scholars of Change award, I sponsored a 2-day event produced by Rise Together to educate nearly 2,500 students in grades 6–12 in Green County, Wisconsin.
Obtaining my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) from Walden in 2011 gave me the tools I needed to start a nonprofit of this magnitude. While completing my coursework, I learned to locate reliable sources and derive evidence-based information to share with the community through FAITH.
My biggest goal for FAITH is to decrease the stigma surrounding addiction, and my whole family is involved to help show other families struggling with it that they are not alone. I don’t want them to be afraid to discuss the issues that they or a loved one are facing, and I want children and parents to have open conversations about the effects of addiction.
My career in orthopedic nursing has helped me along this journey because I often deal with patients who recently had surgery and are taking pain medication. It has made me aware that addiction can happen to anyone, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. My son realizes that, too, and is thrilled with the work we’ve been doing with FAITH while he was away.
When I see all of the positive actions my fellow Walden graduates have taken and how they have put their education to work, I realize that I can do that, too. After nearly 6 years, my son is home with me again. We are doing well but taking things one day at a time. I hope that I can help people like my son who are returning home and readjusting to life after prison. I truly believe he is still on this earth for a reason and know he will do good things, too.
Jackie Moon ’11, is an RN-BSN graduate and 2015 Scholar of Change. She is a registered nurse at The Monroe Clinic in Monroe, Wisconsin, and the founder of FAITH Addiction Awareness of Green County. To learn more about FAITH’s initiatives, go to faithgreencounty.wixsite.com/addictionawareness.