A mother of two beautiful children, Dawn's journey into the world of addiction started with her then 17-year-old son, whose surgeon prescribed 30 days worth of Vicodin to him twice after two surgeries to repair a broken elbow. With no addiction in Dawn's family history, her family was unaware of the powerful hold the pain medication had on him.
The disease progressed, until a few years later when his life became unmanageable. This once smart, funny, handsome young man, with a bright future ahead of him, slowly changed and withdrew. It was at this time that Dawn's husband and she, confused, angry & hurt, looked for help. They quickly realized that this is a family disease, one that very few people at the time were willing to talk openly about. After several stays in treatment, jail time, probation and working his program, Dawn's son, now 28, has gained enough recovery time to focus on full-time employment, rebuilding relationships, paying his debts and looking forward to a better future, sober.
Once Dawn's son's addiction came to light, she found herself consumed with finding answers. She blamed herself for not knowing or seeing this happening; it changed her and changed the way she prioritized things in her life. It was then that she sought help for herself on how to deal with this painful new reality. She found a meeting for families and was amazed at the number of people there, many standing, because there weren’t enough seats. She began to understand the need to remove the stigma and shame, which she believes are the two drivers of this disease.
In 2014, Dawn started attending Parents of Addicted Loved ones (PAL), which she is still active in; she is on the Women's Auxiliary board of notMYkid.org, a non-profit committed to education & empowerment of youth and families. Since 2014, Dawn has worked as a volunteer with the Governor's Office of Youth, Faith & Family (GOYFF), starting with the Addiction Awareness National Red Ribbon Week Kickoff Event, which is held at the Arizona State Capitol every October. In 2016, Governor Doug Ducey appointed Arizona’s first and only Substance Abuse Task Force, two which Dawn was appointed, along with 27 others in the addiction field. Their task was to provide recommendations on substance abuse related issues, including access to treatment, evidence based practices, neonatal abstinence syndrome & medically assisted treatment.
Dawn is committed to fight for changes so that families dealing with similar struggles avoid the trauma her family went through. She looks forward to the day when we as a nation can unite in a movement similar to that of the AIDS crisis and demand more from our legislature and the private sector to increase funding for research and development to finally put an end to this crisis.