Ray Charles’ Daughter Leads New Drug Awareness Campaign
The daughter of legendary musician Ray Charles was recently spotted in the Austin area this week campaigning to help those battling drug addiction. Although she is known for being the daughter of Ray Charles, Sheila Raye Charles has fought her own personal battles with addiction. She is leading the Raye of Hope Recovery Crusade across Texas and 15 other states to raise awareness and education about drug abuse.
“Yes, my father is Ray Charles but I also had five children by four different men, three crack-cocaine addicted babies,” Charles said, “I went to federal prison not once, not twice, but three times. I was addicted to crack for 20 years but when we start to talk about those things.”
While most public discussion relating illegal drugs focuses on marijuana reform, one source is arguing for a shift in conversation. While marijuana reform is an multifaceted issue, there still needs to be a focus on on what we are doing to combat drug addiction in the country as a whole.
In a recent report, it was argued that the U.S. needs to follow the same concepts utilized in Canada to combat drug addiction. The primary areas of change need to be in supply reduction, demand reduction, and harm minimization; these areas have been focused on extensively in other countries in one form or another.
- Supply Reduction: This related to prevention through law enforcement through targeting drug dealers and importation to reduce the availability of drugs. Through supply reduction, we can use programs that reduce the availability of drugs which can prevent the use as well. This is utilized largely by law enforcement.
- Demand reduction: The core of demand reduction is reducing the desire for illegal/illicit drugs. The steps needed to achieve this are early intervention, education and measures designed to remove the user’s needs. Largely this is done through police services combined with law enforcement. Supply and demand reduction is directly linked when it comes to increasing the potential for success.
- Harm Minimization/reduction: The core of this principle is to reduce the harm felt by individuals and the community by excessive drug use. The other two policies will never completely attain success without implementing programs designed on focusing on the individuals who actually do end up engaging in unhealthy unsafe drug use. One example of this would be the needle exchange program which focuses on providing a safe clean way for users to use intravenous needles. Another example is methadone clinics which give an alternative to opiates for those who desperately want to maintain a better life.
Research has shown that strategies that focus on addiction prevention will see the cost of long term rehabilitation reduce which in turn, will make the treatment more accessible to others. There is also evidence that reveals that early intervention has the greatest potential for success and lowers the chance of a relapse. The youth have the greatest potential for success in recovery so focusing on youth will be of great importance.
Furthermore, it is necessary to provide the youth community with enhanced education and prevention programs in school. The one place that is common for drug use is in school. These students need intervention and need to understand harm minimization. In addition, education needs to reach students before drug deals do.
In conclusion, a roadmap for success for targeting and engaging addicts would implement new innovative enhanced prevention programs targeted at supporting different treatment options across the country. That is what Sheila hopes to promote in her new campaign. She hopes to reduce the stigma of addiction and give those suffering something to aspire to.
“People (in jail, or lost) can relate to it and it changes their whole concept and mindset of who they think we are.” Charles said, “We aren’t sitting up high and looking down at them, we are coming to them in a peer-to-peer level saying we understand where you came from and we are right there with you.”
Charles’ tour will continue throughout the early part of 2016.
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