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FELIPE: Just days before our first Generation S.O.S. meeting in Miami a student we all knew committed suicide. Apparently, he had been struggling and life became too much for him to bear. One day he was with us, the next day he was gone. We were in shock. If this could happen to him, it could happen to any of us! A few months earlier I attended a Generation S.O.S. meeting in NYC. I went because a friend’s mom was battling addiction and he and I often talked about the devastating stigma surrounding this issue. The young speaker was amazing, sharing his story and perspectives on substance misuse and addiction. No stigma — just honestly and authentically sharing his journey. I cannot describe the look in everyone’s eyes and the feeling in my heart. I realized everyone needs to hear these stories and know the impact addiction has on the entire family, the ways it can happen, and that they are not alone. We needed to replace stigma with awareness. We needed a Generation S.O.S. chapter in Miami. We launched our first Generation S.O.S. meeting in January. Our meetings have been standing room only from the start, with students from many neighboring schools attending. We had a phenomenal speaker at our first meeting who was able to connect with the students as no adult could. His story was riveting… and relatable. The Q&A session that followed was incredibly open and honest. After the meeting, everyone felt empowered to spread the word. Several of us started Generation S.O.S. clubs in our schools, where we host informational meetings with young adult speakers who share their journeys with us. We don’t preach. No lecturing about abstinence. But the focus is definitely on preventing substance misuse, addiction, and overdose. We are also planning wider community events so we can continue to heighten awareness about the dangers of drug use and addiction amidst a larger audience. The real power of the Generation S.O.S. movement is the massive impact it has on the kids who attend the meetings. The speakers share stories about how they face the challenges of substance use or,

GENERATION S.O.S. MIAMI MEETING

misuse is an adolescent-onset illness, starting during teenage years 90% of the time. Those who say it is a moral failing are not looking into the eyes of a 14-year-old boy or 16-year-old girl trying to navigate life’s challenges. At Generation S.O.S. we adamantly believe that preventing our precious children from becoming addicted is where we must focus our efforts. You can help. Research shows that one dollar spent on prevention is worth ten dollars or more spent on treatment or criminal justice solutions. Please help us turn the tide on America’s #1 health crisis by going to GenerationSOS.org to make a donation. Some child — perhaps someone you love — will thank you someday. Jim Hood — CEO Jim lost his eldest child, Austin, to an overdose in 2012. *

sometimes, misuse but also share coping skills they have learned as a result of their journeys. That’s what the S.O.S. stands for — Sharing Our Stories. We can easily relate when peers share their personal experiences, and quickly realize how many of our friends are going through a similar journey or know someone else on this path, sometimes a family member, even a parent. I am proud to have brought Generation S.O.S. to Miami and look forward to building a movement that every young adult wants to be part of. Our generation desperately needs this YOU CAN HELP The stigma surrounding substance misuse and overdose casts a long shadow and raises many uncomfortable questions. Yet most people don’t understand substance

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