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Last week, President Obama traveled to Charleston, West Virginia, for a candid conversation about substance abuse.

President Obama speaks at East End Family Resource Center in Charleston, West Virginia. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.


Before leading a panel discussion, the president talked about the startling toll that substance abuse has taken on the country and on the Mountain State in particular.

The problem has reached epidemic proportions as 44 people in the United States die each day from overdoses of prescription painkillers. West Virginia has the highest overdose death rate in the country with nearly 34 per 100,000 residents.

"The numbers are big," said Obama. "But behind those numbers are incredible pain for families."

Hours after watching the president's remarks on television, one man took a brave step to change his life.

He called 911, admitted he had a drug problem, and asked deputies to come to his home.

When they arrived, the man (whose name was not released) put his hands on the wall and directed the deputies to a cooler full of drugs and paraphernalia, including marijuana, ecstasy, pain pills, and a digital scale.


A photo of the items seized by the police. Photo by Kanawha County Sheriff's Office, used with permission.

And the officers did something equally impressive: They didn't arrest him.

Instead, the man was taken by ambulance to a treatment center, where he voluntarily entered a rehabilitation program. The sheriff's department declined to file charges and released a statement saying, "We applaud this person's self-initiated efforts and wish him well in his recovery."

Photo by iStock.

The complex problem of substance will require an innovative, all-hands-on-deck solution.

It's a multifaceted problem (affecting the health care industry, criminal justice system, border security, and schools) that will require a complex, dynamic solution.

And some are trying to find those solutions. In the town of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Police Chief Leonard Campanello announced this summer that his officers would no longer arrest drug users who came to them seeking help. In the first two months of the program, over 100 people entered treatment.


Paramedics take a man to the hospital after a possible overdose. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

But we don't have to wait for a silver bullet. We can take a cue from Gloucester and Kanawha County and start with one fewer arrest and one more person in treatment.

They're saving families communities from one more tragedy.

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

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via Pixabay

A beautiful Christmas tree lot.

Hallmark has produced more than 300 holiday-themed movies over the past decade and they tend to be romantic comedies or stories about families that reunite around Christmas. The movies are meant to be comfort food on a cold winter’s night, so no one seems to mind that they’re filled with predictable plot lines and cliches.

Hallmark movies have become a big part of America's holiday tradition. Last year, more than 80 million people watched at least part of one.

Each film usually begins with a single woman in a small, quaint town having a meet-ugly or a meet-cute with her love interest. In a meet-ugly scenario, the boy and girl are either adversaries in a cause or inadvertently injure one another in a freak accident. If it's a meet-cute scenario, the two randomly run into each other and have an instant connection.

Regardless of how they meet, the couple falls for each other and then a major misunderstanding drives them apart before they are brought together again

Writer Shyla Watson went Christmas tree shopping on November 27 and inadvertently found herself in a situation that resembled the first act of a Hallmark holiday movie. Her tweet about it quickly went viral, receiving more than 72,000 likes.

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Photo by Roméo A. on Unsplash

Cat hilariously rats out owner in front of the landlord.

Maybe it's a right of passage into adulthood or maybe some landlords discriminate against pets because they can't tell people kids are forbidden in their residence. Either way, just about everyone has lived in a rental home that didn't allow pets. Most people just abide by the rules and vow to get a pet when they find a new home.

Some people, on the other hand, get creative. I once came across a post on social media where someone claimed their pit bull puppy was actually a silver Labrador. But one woman on TikTok was harboring a secret cat in her rental that had a no pets policy, and either her cat was unaware or he was aware and was simply being a jerk.

My money is on the latter since cats are known to be jerks for no reason. I mean, have you ever left something on the counter for a few minutes? They make it their mission to knock it on the floor. So I fully believe this fluffy little meow box wanted to make his presence known in an effort to rat out his owner.

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Pop Culture

The Gen X grief when a 'Sesame Street' character dies is so real

We're the first generation to have educational programs molding our core memories.

Bob McGrath, one of the original "Sesame Street" actors, has passed away.

"A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter."

It's a simple, repeated line from a one-minute sketch, but as a Gen Xer raised on public television, it's one of thousands of "Sesame Street" segments etched into my brain. Such memories still pop into my head at random times, clear as day, well into my forties. Bert singing about his oatmeal box while playing it like a drum. Kermit lamenting that it's not easy—but it is beautiful—being green. Buffy Saint-Marie breastfeeding her baby and explaining it to Big Bird. Mr. Hooper—the sweet, bow-tied man who ran the Sesame Street corner store—dying.

I was 8 when Mr. Hooper died. It was a big deal. I rewatched part of that episode recently to see what I'd think of it as an adult. The "Sesame Street" gang of 1983 handled it masterfully, helping us all process his unexpected death through Big Bird's own experience of learning about what it means to die.

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