Gweedo’s Purple Shamrocks is a 501c3 non-profit organization, formed in June of 2016, dedicated to combating the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic. The group was formed in the shadow of a major loss of life. The President of the organization, Sam Callantine had a brother that passed away from a heroin overdose in May of 2016. The “Gweedo” in their name is a memorial to his brother’s nickname, as the organization was formed in his honor. The “Purple” in the name symbolizes overdose/addiction awareness and power. The “Shamrock” is attributed to the mission to add a “little luck” to addicts, their families, along with our community by providing resources, support, awareness, and overdose prevention education.
Pillar in Recovery Community
Since its formation G.P.S. has proved to be a pillar in the recovery community. By creating relationships with local detoxification and rehabilitation centers, the organization can provide addicts with the necessary treatment at a much faster rate. Shortening the enrollment process from several weeks to just a couple days. Meeting addicts where they are at in their recovery is a very important step in creating success stories and minimizing the risk of relapse. Relapse is the number one concern for recovering addicts and their families.
The effects this epidemic has had on families of addicts is prevalent all around our community. By creating a free regularly scheduled support group, the organization has given families dealing with an active addict or have lost a loved one to overdose a healing space. “The Purple Room Support Group” allows families to meet in a non-judgmental-stigma free environment. Allowing a comfort zone to build relationships among others who suffer the devastation the opioid crisis has bestowed upon their lives. The lack of current information available on prescription opioid and heroin addiction only leads to misunderstanding and adds to an already thick stigma.
Overdose Prevention Education
Information is the first line of defense in an attempt to overcome any situation. G.P.S. strives to educate the community on the warning signs of opioid abuse, the surrounding law, and to highlight the problem directly affecting the community. In having this information, the community can become aware and begin see past the stigma, and approach the problem pragmatically with a better understanding of the disease of addiction. The sudden spike seen in overdoses due to prescription opioids and heroin in the recent years should be a major concern of every community.
Overdose Prevention Education is one of the greatest assets this organization brings to communities all over Indiana. The program is a free training course designed to inform attendees of facts, the effects, warning signs, paths of abuse, and symptoms of opioid overdose. Every course provides step by step training on the administration of the opioid overdose reversal medication, Naloxone/Narcan. As a registered Naloxone entity of the Indiana State Health Department, Gweedo’s PurpleShamrocks provides a free Naloxone kit containing two doses of the life-saving medicine to each attendee. The organization can do this under Aaron’s Law, created to protect an open prescription in Indiana for all registered laypersons and non-profit organizations to obtain Naloxone without a written prescription. The program aims to train Law enforcement, Paramedics, mental illness/rehabilitation staff, community school staff, all First Responders, and the public. Effectively placing Naloxone in the hands of the people who can save lives throughout the community.
Holding regular public events such as Naloxone trainings and Candlelight Vigils honoring overdose victims, the organization keeps the community engaged and effectively highlighting the problem they struggle to fight every day. “The amount of people that respond to and attend our events, is a statement by the community saying, ‘We will NOT lay down and watch while our community is being destroyed’”, says Sam Callantine.
The organization’s hope is to one day have the stigma of addiction removed and treated like the illness it is, that one day we can look at addiction with a more pragmatic view and provide support as well as resources to those suffering from its grasp. Until that day Gweedo’s Purple Shamrocks will be there helping save lives and lending a helping hand to those in need.