Opioid Addiction is a worldwide issue that demands a national spotlight. In this episode of ChatAholic, I'm joined by author Cammie Wolf Rice, a frontline warrior in the fight, who is on a mission to educate people about the Opioid epidemic that began as the wonder drug being handed out to patients.
What people were not told was that this drug marketed to help ease pain would lead to an American President declaring Opioid use as a public health emergency.Together, we dive deep into how she turned pain into purpose.
During this intimate conversation, Cammie speaks openly about losing her son Christopher to opioids; while educating us on the opioid epidemic and her organization, The Christopher Wolf Crusade. We also discuss her phenomenal book,The Flight, A Personal Journey Through The Opioid Epidemic.
Cammie's story of survival and her groundbreaking work to end addiction is a life-saving conversation you don't want to miss.
Please note transcription accuracy may vary.
Music by - Neffex - don't want to let myself down
Neffex - A year go
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Welcome to another episode of Chat Aholic. This episode I speak to Cammie Wolf. Rice Cammie is the author. Yes, we have another amazing new author because we're just here trying our best to support. New authors and just a bit about Cammie. Her debut book is called The Flight, my Opioid Journey. Cammie is not only a debut author, she is a mother. She is a wife and she's a speaker and a philanthropist. Yay that I managed to say philanthropist cuz I wasn't sure if I was gonna be able to do it. So I wanted to speak to her because of her book. What inspired her to write this book, because I genuinely believe, she is. Trying to save lives, trying to change A system that's been broken for such a long time just to add in really quickly that if during any episode you now hear a noise won't last long, that's just a pre-warning that I have deviated to add something in. I'm really sorry that I now feel the need to add stuff in. Mid conversation, but I thought, okay, if I'm going to do this, which clearly I am, I feel I should at least pre-warn with a little noise pre-warning, I promise I will not do it all the time, and I feel the information I'm adding in is relevant. But if it's not, then please feel free to contact me on ChatAholic.me. Hi Cammie.Thank you so much for agreeing to speak to me. I'm just going to ask you a few questions and as my listeners know, I will go off on several tangents. Can I start by asking for you to tell me a bit about you? Whatever you are Happy sharing.Cammie:
Sure. Um, well, you know, I used to be a single mom, now I have a blended family. And I met the love of my life later in life, but super happy, uh, from that perspective. I grew up in the corporate world, but now I'm proud to say that I'm a professional philanthropist. That's what I do for a living is, uh, and that's a gift, that's a blessing to be able to, spend my time helping others So, yeah, I do a lot of philanthropic work and now I get to call myself an author as well. So I never thought I would ever be an author of a book, but I am now, so I'm an author too.AO:
I'm just going to ask you this question and from this people listening will understand why I wanted to speak to you. Would you just tell me what actually is an opioid? So for example, I live in the United Kingdom and if I walked into my, I don't, I always get confused at what you call it, in America, if I walked into, we call them supermarkets, I would get a paracetamol if I had a really bad headache. The word I was looking for was pharmacist or pharmacy chemist. That was what I was after or a drugist if you are in North America, because apparently that is what a healthcare professional is called. Basically, in short, what I was getting to was if I walked into somewhere where I needed medication, not necessarily from my gp or maybe from my gp, and my GP would prescribe it, and then I'd go to. The pharmacist, the chemist, the drugist. If you're in North America, So what I know in doing some research and after reading your book, there is an opioid epidemic in America, not just America. I know it's other parts of the world, so I thought maybe it would be best to ask you what is an opioid?Cammie:
So an opioid is, A narcotic, um, and an opioid. There's many, names. There's Oxycontin, oxycodone, and there's Percocet. So there's many different names for an opioid. They were originally, developed for palliative care when you were. For example, have cancer and you were, you know, transitioning soon and to keep you out of pain. And the pendulum swung way too far the other way, especially in the United States, I think, um, the United States consumes 80% of opioids worldwide, which is insane. it's a. Big, big, big problem in the United States. There are problem in other countries as well, but the United States definitely surpasses any other country with, big pharma. The pharmaceutical companies, told the doctors that it was not addictive and that the objective is to keep people out of pain and they made it, uh, in hospitals, you know, which is. A bad expectation to put people in surgeries and so forth and not have an expectation of pain. And pain tells your body how to heal. So, you know, making it the fifth vital sign in the United States not to have pain nurses were then trained if. If I say on a scale of one to 10, I'm at a seven with my pain, they're gonna immediately come in and give me opioids. And what happened was people were going home with these enormous, prescriptions, 90 Oxycontins a hundred Oxycontins. And you can become addicted with one prescription. And so there is a place, a time and a place for opioids if you've had a car accident, a major surgery, an amputation, but you need to get off of those. They are not sustainable for chronic pain. Uh, there are many side effects to it. Opioids can hijack your brain. And, so if you have to be on an opioid, the education is the safety factor, is that you must taper off and have other alternatives for pain management and not look at that as a sustainable thing for chronic pain. That was a long answer to your question.AO:
No. No. I watched Dope Sick I really, really urge people to watch it. I'm going to be perfectly honest. I couldn't watch every episode. It's not easy watching. I watched it and I cried. so please don't apologize for long explanations because people need to be aware that there is this issue and why there is this issue, which leads me on to. My next question, I watched a clip of you on YouTube and you were doing, I believe it was your book launch, and there was one slide that came up that said, mama's on a mission. Would you tell me about, because now I know what that's slide meant. Mama's on a mission, would you tell me about the Christopher Wolf Crusade and also because this is linked, because you've been on your own journey With opioids, so would you mind sharing?Cammie:
sure, sure. Thank you. so my son, this was 25 plus years ago. In middle school, so you know, teenager, he was diagnosed with a colon disease, ulcerative colitis, and it's a very humiliating, painful disease. You have diarrhea 20 times a day and for a young kid, there was bullying involved, because he'd have to go to the restroom so many times at school and so forth. So his senior year in high school, they came to me, the doctors, and said, You're gonna have to have his large intestine removed and that's quite a surgery. And you go home with a bag and you have a hole in your stomach. And he had complications in the surgery, so he was in the hospital for 70 days. And um, we went home with 90 Oxycontins and we are so I can't speak for other countries, but here in the US we have such a respect for our doctors and the white coats that we don't even think to question. and this was actually right at the same time that Purdue Pharma released Oxycontin, the opioids saying this is a wonder drug. This keeps people out of pain. You don't have any pain. So when you're a mother and you see your child in pain and you don't you weren't told any bad side effects. The doctor said, give him these every four hours and your son has a hole in their stomach. What do you do? You give them to him every four hours. Not knowing there were any dangers with giving him those opioids. Just thought, okay, he just has to get through this and then we go on. to be fair, you know, doctors were told that it wasn't addictive, but they were lied to. So we went home with 90 Oxycontins, followed by 90 more. And this is my son Christopher, wanted to be a Navy Seal super book smart, super disciplined. you know, graduated, he went on to college. But he kept having issues and kept having problems and had to have other surgeries, and they kept putting them on the opioids. We didn't know anything about addiction. He didn't know anything about addiction. but then it became, I mean, it hijacked your brain. And he actually came to me and said, I have a problem. I need this medicine. Like I can't live without these pills. And there were many side effects to the Oxycontin as well and the oxycodone. He fought addiction for 15 years. We went to multiple rehabs. I was there at the family weeks. I have my PhD in treatment centers. I lived this, uh, with him and watched him struggle and struggle and struggle and managed to graduate college. But continued to have this medicine hijacked. it just is telling your brain, you've gotta have, you've gotta have an opioid. You've gotta have an opioid. And, he lost his life in 2016. Not anything to do with his colon issue and his colon disease. He went into the hospital with one thing and came out with another disease that ultimately took his life. the stigma is so bad around addiction and he was embarrassed. And it took me two years to say that my son overdosed because I wanted, as sad as it sounds, I wanted my son to have a respectable death. And I know how people think when they hear the word overdose and what they think. And I realized that I needed to come out to save other lives. I had to take. My pain to pencil to purpose, you know what I mean? And that's the purpose of the book, is that I, and that's really what saved my life, is by going, okay, I've gone through this, I can tell you there is no word for when you lose your child in the dictionary because it's out of a natural order and it's a pain that is indescribable and, So if I didn't find that purpose and to save other lives and to warn people, and I have literally a fire inside of me, I do this 24 hours a day. I do this every day from the morning I wake up till I go to bed. I am constantly out there. Anytime I get this opportunity to speak. And thank you for giving me a platform here with your listeners because I wanna warn people I don't want. Any other mother or father to have to bury their child or your family member. that's what happened. And I feel like Christopher sacrificed his life so that others could live. And so, yeah.AO:
thank you. in your book you write the reason why you do what you do, and I understand that. I don't know how to express gratitude that you are getting this message out, but you also are very clear that yes, you want to make sure as much you can, that other people do not go through what he went through. However, if you could, And it sounds like such ridiculous things to say, but I just need to make it very clear because Cammie put this in the book, if she could sacrifice everything that she has done to get her message, get this message out there, to have her child back, she would. one of the things I wanted to ask you, cause when I was doing some research, this isn't, it's not a new issue in America, the, opioid epidemic has been around since before Christopher was prescribed these tablets. And one of the, I don't even know if you know the answer, but one in my head, I just thought, okay, so at some point it must have been clear that there was an issue. People were getting addicted to this drug, which was supposed to help them, and, but it still just kept on getting prescribed, kept on getting prescribed. Why I didn't understandCammie:
well, there's many. Um, there's, that's not a, it's not a ones answer question for sure. Uh, there is definitely money involved, always. Right. And I think it was changing. I think in the United States, doctors received very, very little, or if any, at all training in eight years of college about addiction. So doctors don't really, unless they specialize in it, they don't realize, and they don't know. Now, we've done a lot, we have moved the needle, like for example, there is. A database now and that monitors doctors prescribing and patients got very smart. They would doctor shop and so they would get one prescription from one doctor and then they'd go to another doctor and get another prescription. Well, now that's all in a database and it red flags over prescribing and. Then there were pill mills all over. They started in the state of Florida. They were everywhere where doctors were literally doing it for the money. They wouldn't even see a patient come, patient would come in. People were driving from all over the United States, driving down to Florida to these pill mills and getting huge bottles of opioids. and then, you know, 80% of heroin users started with a prescription. So let that soak in a minute. 80%. Started with a prescription. So when you can't no longer get the prescription from the doctor, now that they're monitoring the prescription writing, then the pendulum swung and people, okay, well then I'm gonna go to the street. And I'm gonna get heroin because it's cheaper and easier to get, and it gives me even a more high, it's stronger, you know, cuz your brain is telling you, you have to have it just like air to breathe. Just like a drink of water, just like our body needs water. That's what your brain's telling you. When you get addicted to opioids. It's serious and you have to fight it every day of your life. It's not like you go to a rehab, write a check for 30 days. Your kid comes out, everything's fine. It doesn't work that way. Your brain has been hijacked. It's that serious of a drug and. You know, so it went to heroin and then heroin went up and then meth and you know, so it went to the street and then you have more issues because now fentanyl is in all the street drugs in the United States. It's coming from China and New dada and over the border, and they're literally, it's not an overdose. People are thinking they're taking one. Percocet and it's got enough fentanyl, like the end of a pencil, like a speck of salt, and it kills you. They're poisoning. So it's not an overdose, it's a poison. So our country right now is under a chemical warfare attack. Nobody's talking about it. It's in Adderall. It's in Xanax. It's in all these opioids that are on the street. People think that it's a safe, they think it's a Percocet. It looks just like a Percocet from a pharmacy. It's used a press. A pill. Press that looks exactly, and it's a fake pill and it's killing our young people every day on an average 300 people are dying every 11 minutesAO:
I saw an article that the World Health Organization brought out about it, and you mentioned. People shopping around for it. I also saw an article cuz this is how obsessed I've been with, trying to find out as much as I could. I also saw an article about a police union director in California who was basically handing out Fentanyl at weddings and parties and disguising them as wedding favors, as chocolates. Because you mentioned earlier. Money, And it's awful that people are willing to do things to aid the addiction of people who are either physically or mentally vulnerable for money,Cammie:
It is. It is. It's, it's extremely sad. If you get someone addicted to Fentanyl, though, it's 10 times stronger, or it's 50 times stronger than heroin, and they're gonna come back to you, not daily. They're gonna come back to you multiple times a day. And their lifespan is, I mean, it's like playing Russian roulette. But they don't care because they go to the next victim. it's the black web too, it's sold on Snapchat. There was a woman that had a slumber party for 14 year olds and they were all playing in the basement, and somebody reached out on Snapchat and said, you can get. These Skittles, and it'll make you dance all night. You're gonna laugh till you cannot stop laughing and just kept coming at them. On the phone, on the phone, on the phone. They delivered the Skittles with fentanyl in him to that house. That mom went downstairs the next morning. Every child was dead, 14 years old, all of them dead. And so this is what we're dealing with and that's why I'm ringing this bell and this alarm and. That's the whole reason that I wrote the book is because I wanted to reach the masses. And I will say, cuz people ask me, well why? Why the flight? You know, what does it have to do with the flight? Because the pain was so enormous, I had to go outside in a fiction space to even talk about it. And so I liked the idea of the metaphor of a flight being like our journey of life and people leave the flight, your flight unexpectedly, that you don't know, and people kind of on your flight that are unexpected. And we land at different places in our life. We land at happiness and success and illness, sickness and grief, and you have to keep the fuel to keep flying. And sometimes we're in this. Whirlwind of turbulence. Right. And we're circling and circling and circling and trying to land. You know, I just felt like there were a lot of analogies to, plus I've done a ton of flying cause I used to live in Hong Kong and so I was just like, you know, that's why it's called the flight. But what I also did is, it's been so interesting because while I share my story, I share Christopher's story. It's, you know, the flight, my opioid journey. I also am very raw about failing at marriage and the things I'm embarrassed about in my life. And I wanna, it's about forgiveness, it's about compassion, it's about non-judgment. it turned into so much more than I originally thought I was gonna write about. And to give you an example, I had a woman come up and she said, you know, I. I've always wanted to start my own bakery, and after reading your book, I'm starting my own bakery. And I was like, wow. Like it has nothing to do with losing a child. It has nothing to do with opioids, it has nothing to do with addiction, but it gave her inspiration and that was such a silver lining for me that was so unexpected about the book. It really makes you think about your own journey when you're reading about my journey, the way it's been written. And then the second thing I'll say is, And this was cuz of, because of Covid. Uh, I was at a restaurant eating breakfast and you know, you had to scan the QR code to see the menu if you wanted to eat. And I'm sitting there and I'm like, you know, some people don't like to read anymore, which is unfortunate, but I. How can I keep the book so it doesn't turn stagnant? And that's when I thought, I'm gonna put a QR code in the book. I have a QR code after every chapter. That's a video of me talking about extra things that were maybe too difficult to explain in a book. And then I put QR codes in the back for a resource library and I put my music playlist of how I dealt with grief and you know, just all kinds of things to share that it'll never go stagnant cause I can always update it. Right? And so I was super excited to do that in the book.AO:
I'm sorry, Cammie. I didn't know this because I read it on Kindle.Cammie:
Well, I'm so glad I told you about the QR code. Syd, you're gonna have to get the book. Yeah, I did a QR code after each chapter. Um, and then the craziest thing happened. Which, because you didn't have the QR code in your, in the Kindle version, you don't even know this, but I midway through writing the book, my brother, my only sibling, my younger he had high anxiety and dealt with mental illness. Again, another stigma that we have in this world, which we need to. Demolish and he got his Xanax, his Xanax for anxiety, um, from a supposedly friend. It had fentanyl in it, and it killed my brother in the middle of writing this book. So I do a QR code because I didn't even know how to write about losing my brother to fentanyl.AO:
I did not know that because I know I can say this because you've already said it. I know. That your brother passed away? That's in the Kindle version, but it doesn't explain what happened. There's no, there was no more information than that. so, no, I didn't know what happened to him.Cammie:
So now I've lost my son. From the opioid epidemic and now I've lost my brother from the fentanyl crisis. I recognize and I understand that whatever your higher power you believe in, whether it's Allah, Buddha, God, whatever, spiritual, that higher power for me, I know I've been chosen to do this work and they sacrifice because god knew I wasn't gonna sit down on this and I'm not. It made me fight stronger, harder, faster, uh, to save people. And I know that's my mission and that's my path, and that's what I'm supposed to be doing and that's what I do. you know that people that don't have the physical book, I've gotta figure out how we can get QR codes in KindleAO:
I like that you found another way to communicate how you are feeling to your readers. I like that and. I will now have to get the hard copy, but if it could be available on the Kindle as well, but I like that you did that. I like that you're writing this book then your brother passed away because of fentanyl and You didn't know how to communicate that to the reader, how to put that additional grief onto paper. And so I like that you came up with another way.Cammie:
grief is brutal. And but I do think that I have. I don't know. I've just been ministering so many people that have lost their children. and I'm just, you know, every, it's, it's not one size fits all, but I at least am able to share with people what helps me. You know, I can tell you 1000000000% your spirit lives on. I get signs from my brother and my son and my mother all the time. I mean all the time. And I. I'm blessed because, you know, I'm, I'm creating a new position in healthcare in hospitals for the US because, you know, our society, we use coaches for everything. There's an executive coach, a birthing coach, baseball coach, tennis coach, right? We use coaches for everything except for when you're in a health crisis, you don't have a coach, and Christopher didn't have a coach in that hospital to say, Hey, you're on opioids. You gotta get off of these very quickly and here's some things you can do for pain, some pain alternatives. Then looking for the answer in the pill. And here's some techniques to deal with anxiety, stress, depression, and P T S D. Cuz guess what? You have all those things up here in the hospital and you're having a health crisis. And so I got trained from the Trauma Resource Institute as an instructor to teach these techniques and they're very simplistic techniques and they should be. Simplistic because when you're having a panic attack or when you're having that anxiety, you need something simple to redirect your brain and to take over, you know, so you're not having that panic attack. And so I picked one of the hardest things to do, but it's doing unbelievably well. We've had a clinical trial here at a trauma hospital um, the data, we've had a 25% opioid, uh, decrease in prescriptions already.AO:
That is amazing. That is amazing.Cammie:
Right. And we just got a million dollar grant to take this position out into rural communities in our state, because they have little to no access to healthcare. And, so yeah, I'm creating a new position in healthcare and I. My objective is to have them all across the United States, and I would love to expand outside the US because I do believe you need a care coach when every family should have a care coach in their family to help. Cuz you're gonna, I mean, that's life, right? You're gonna have a health crisis. Somebody is at some point in your family because that's life and. You need to have that instruction of how to care for your loved one or how to care for yourself, when you're having a health crisis and it's mental and physical. So that's my solution and I talk about that in the book. So I'm sure you've read about the life care specialist, but it's really doing well and I'm super, that's what keeps me going every dayAO:
before I read the book, one of my questions was, Is there enough being done? Because there still is an issue. Can I just say whilst I know you want to expand it in America, which is great. And then I was speaking to someone I know who lives in Canada and I said, did you know this, that you have, there's an opioid issue in Canada, the education on what's going on. it's not reaching them. And it left me a bit like, okay, so we only want to educate people on the risks of this. If they are, I don't know, do you need to be a certain type of person? So if you. If you have a job, if you, it should be spread to everyone. It shouldn't be because I might be more privileged than my neighbor next door. this isn't an issue, which is a race issue or a class issue, because actually it's an issue that affects all of us. this is me definitely going off on a tangent. I spoke to my niece, and said I was speaking to you. She used to be a psychologist, and after reading a book, I went on Google and looked at opioids and looked at What's our stance in the United Kingdom? And and then I said to my niece, remember ages ago, she said, I said to her, oh, I got prescribed this tablet for as pain in my foot. And she said, oh, when my clients get prescribed that, I know they're not coming to morning appointments, or I might not be seeing them. I did not research this. I just took it and went on my merry way. Then went to work the next day and people said, you look strange, like your eyes were all glazed over. And I said, I feel very happy. I feel very happy right now, and I'm going to be perfectly honest, if it wasn't for the second time, I took it and I threw up. And then kept on throwing up. I probably would've taken it again because in the moment that I took it, I didn't even know it was an opioid. It's only when I researched it recently when I knew I was speaking to you and I thought, that's, that's awful. So I just need people to know that this isn't, it's not. You are poor, so this could happen to you, you know, it can happen to anyone. And actually, I got that from reading your book also, that that is part of your message is opioids can be friends with anyone. I got friends from you cuz you say that in the book that about opioids being, they're like, you're friend.Cammie:
Mm-hmm. Yep. Yeah. Very deceiving. Um, and yeah, and you know, I do think there's no, there's not enough being done. No, there's not enough education and awareness. Um, and. You know, even dentists, you know, dentists in the United States are some of our highest prescribers and kids get, you know, they're wisdom teeth pulled. You don't need Percocet for wisdom teeth. You need Motrin, Tylenol, ice, and I've seen kids in rehab that literally got addicted from one prescription of going to the dentist. because if you have underlying, if you go to the root. You might have low self-esteem. It might be genetic in your DNA some people don't like the way opioids make them feel. You know, my husband had hip replacement. He didn't want one. Now we went through everything with Christopher, so that could have something mentally with it that he didn't want to touch it. He looks at, you know, the devil's in the pill as I do, but there's a lot of people that don't like the way it makes them feel, and they don't have a genetic. Disposition with it. Other people, they describe it as warm honey in their body. Like, oh my God, this is the greatest thing ever. I am usually very, uh, socially awkward. It made me be able to feel comfortable around people and to talk. And so if there's underlying things like depression, like low self-esteem, like anxiety, that opioid just magnifies and makes you wanna take it even more because It helps with those comorbidities, if that makes sense. So yeah, you do have to be, and it's amazing the lack of education of people knowing what to be aware and be and to have danger. You know, just like you have danger on the pack of a cigarettes, you should have that on the pill bottle. You know that you can become addicted with this one prescription. You know? And that's, and you know, it's interesting cuz In the United States, if you look at things like aids, you know it, it took a mom to talk out about her son, Ryan in Indiana for AIDS to hit the market. And there's been so many people pull me aside and say, Cammie, It has to come from the private sector. If you look at Get Moms Against Drunk Driving in the United States, she's the one that changed the, you know, drinking the way it's handled in the United States, everything right. and that's all happened with mothers, you know, and not to say any discredit to fathers, because we have some great fathers on our crusade as well, but, I think it does have to come from the private sector and we can't rely on our governments to do this fast enough and to educate fast enough. And there are a lot of lawsuits and money coming in flooding into states, which is great as long as the money gets spent on what it should be gets spent on. And there's enormous amount of funding going to treatment, which is so important. But my swim lane is prevention. We need to stop it before it starts. I don't think there's enough being done to prevent it ever starting in the first place. And, so that's where I really focus is on the prevention. Um, I dabble over on the other treatment side as well, and I, you know, I do a lot of research for different things, We can't scream the alarm loud enough, and I don't think it's just a US issue.AO:
This is, I'm sure the only time I'm going to just interrupt the flow with just a little bit of information because as you heard Cammi say, she doesn't think it's a US issue. At the time, I don't believe I realized the full. Scope of how much of a worldwide issue this actually was. So I'm just going to give my little insert of, since speaking to Cammie, what I now have learned, because I was under the impression that in the United Kingdom, this isn't an issue. I have to be clear, when it comes to the opioid epidemic, United States is definitely up there as being number one. But what I've also learned from the National Library of Medicine, because they actually did a study across 18 different countries to see what the trends was and which countries the most affected and what I found out from looking at that study that they did and the results of that study, and then looking at other studies that have been carried out in different parts of the world. So Scotland, there's definitely an opioid epidemic going on in Scotland. There is also. And it depends on what drugs, because there were a few drugs that came up. Fentanyl came up, oxycodine came up, and Tramadol came up. Tramadol is the one that, when I was speaking to Cammie, I said, I'd been prescribed when I went to a doctor. You know, I feel like they do have a duty of care to actually tell people what it could actually do when they take it. Canada definitely came up amongst the countries who have this opioid epidemic. And when I spoke to someone in Canada, they said they believe it's the rural places. In Canada where you are most likely to see people who are suffering from this. Estonia in Europe came up, Northern Ireland came up, and then I thought, okay, I'm going to go all the way to the other side of the world from where I am and looked at Australia. And Australia also have an opioid epidemic going on. My point here is Cammie, right? This isn't a united Kingdom, United States issue. This is a worldwide epidemic and countries need to get a handle on this and it can be done because Germany is one of the countries. When I was reading the report they were seeing their numbers increase, they then tried to get it under control and actually they appear to have been quite successful That's it. I'm done and thank you so much.Cammie:
I definitely, I would love to see this position go around the world. I think everybody needs care coach care coach. You know, sometimes You just need somebody to sit in the mud with you. Don't clean me off. Don't try to fix me. Just hear me. And I think, you know, suicide rates are up astronomically around the world and our. Suicide hotline in the United States is up 800 percent%. Uh, we're seeing suicide with young people just. staggering. And I think it's this anxiety, you know, and this mental illness, and people self-medicate with alcohol and with drugs because they're hurting. And that's why we need to connect as human to human and just be there for each other. Just connect and love and have a person that you can reach out to and don't cry alone that you can reach out to. And just sit in the mud with them and cry with them. And let them vent and, you know, feel connected. I think we need a spiritual warfare to go on in this world personally. That's, that's my take on it. Um, there's just so much angst and violence and school shootings here and I just want us to come together as a community and love on each other. Cuz that's the answer is love, you know, and, you know, look at me, I can go on a tangent or I can just go, go, go.AO:
I completely agree, and most of my guests they all say that one thing that helped them was kindness. first person who ever said it to me went through the most awful experience. Physically and mentally, and she said to me, there's so much going on in the world. Why can't we just try and be kind to one another to help one another? That's always stuck with me because you are right. There's so many awful things going on around the world, Don't we want to just. Make it better for one another, for everyone else because if not, then what's the point?Cammie:
Yeah. And that's what you're doing by this podcast, right? You're spreading it, you're, you're spreading kindness, you're spreading education, you know, keep doing what you're doing cuz it's so vitally important. But yes, you know, I get asked all the time, I mean, I have to talk about my son dying every single day, every day. And I almost started feeling guilty because I was sounding so clinical. I'm like, what am I doing? Like, this is my baby, right? But, I realized, you know, I can walk by a picture of Christopher in the morning and I can say, Hey baby, and I can smile and I can be fine. And then later that afternoon I can walk by that same picture and I can be on the floor, you know, and I can just hit the floor. And I've realized that when grief takes on, you just gotta take it. But to go back to what we were talking about, love is what's gotten me through. Love is what's gotten me and helping other people makes me feel. I mean, it sounds so, but I, it's serious, like I'm telling you, pain to purpose. If you're listening out there right now and you have any kind of pain, Whatever it could be. It could be a divorce, it could be, you know, losing somebody, it could be whatever your. You're suffering with find any kind of purpose. And it doesn't have to be a charity. It doesn't have to be writing a book. It could be going down to the shelter and walking dogs for the shelter and helping'em walk dogs. It could be doing something for your neighbor. It could be anything that gives you purpose. That's what really, really helps heal your soul, and that's what makes your heart smile. I believe that's what gives you meaning is when you have that purpose in your life, no matter how small it is. I can only share my experience, but that is really what's worked for me is to have purpose. If I didn't have Christopher Wolf crusade, I probably would be in fetal position not speaking to you and not doing well. And probably self-medicating. I'm not, I'm not a drinker. of course I look at the pills as devil, but I don't know what I would do because it, you know, and I ha, and that's why I talk about forgiveness in the book. I had to forgive myself that I was not able to save my son because that's what moms do and I couldn't. But what I will tell you is I know. That he is no longer in pain and he suffered and this world was too hard for him. It was just too hard for him, and I know he is up there helping me. I know he is. I mean, if I ask for something, I'm like, I need this. I need that. Next thing you know, boom. Of course I'm a believer in manifestation and all that, butAO:
no, me too. Me too. Cammie, I'm just going to ask you this question it's in your book. But one thing I do want to ask is, I think you already said this in the beginning, that you didn't tell anyone. How he died for two years. And that was one of the questions you already have said that. I'm not going to ask you to go into what happened because it's in the book everyone's gonna think. This is very random, and when you read the book, you will understand why I'm asking Cammie this question, what does Cambodia mean to you?Cammie:
That's a great question. And I've done a lot of podcasts and nobody's ever asked that question, so ye Okay. Um. Um, you know, my, as I said, I, I didn't meet the love of my life till I was older and I was a single mom, and so I met this amazing man and he, his company transferred us to Hong Kong right after getting married, which I was not expecting to go to Hong Kong. And we went there for seven years and I had worked in the corporate world. Single mom did not have time to do. Anything Charity, because I had two boys. I was ripping, running, just trying to make life work, right? And now all of a sudden I'm in Hong Kong and I'm retired now cuz I moved to Hong Kong and I was like, okay, what am I gonna do? Like now I have time to really give back. And I went all over Asia, I went everywhere looking, searching. I went to Vietnam, I went to Singapore, I went to Malaysia, I went everywhere. Um, I was really searching. And when I went to Cambodia, it was so. Different. Um, There was super, super spiritual connection, number one. Number two, learning about the Kama Rouge and that the average age still today of that entire country is 21 years old because they killed a whole generation of people. They killed everybody that was educated. If you wore glasses, you were killed because that meant you could read, and I didn't understand all of that. I knew about the killing fields, but I just didn't understand the history, and when I went to Cambodia the first time, I just looked at John, I said, oh God, this is my place. This is it. Um, I was fortunate to be introduced to an amazing organization, an amazing man who's now my big brother, um, Cambodia Children's Fund and Scott Neeson, and he. He has a charity there and he takes, literally takes families off of living on a garbage dump and puts them into school and gives them clean water and food and it's just amazing, right? And so I got super involved. I joined the Hong Kong board. And we opened a school there. And so anytime I was happiest when I was in 150 degree weather, just so hot there. But working with the people that I'd never seen a culture of having nothing and being happy and smiling and they want that affection and that love. And so all of our boys, I have two stepsons and then I have Christopher and Chase and I had taken. All the boys to Cambodia except for Christopher. and I took Christopher there and he passed in Cambodia. And you know, there's just, I don't even know. It's so deep. The connection that I have with Cambodia and the love I have for the people there. I have lots of kids that I sponsor there. I'm going back in November. I get teary just talking about Cambodia. the monks. I dunno if you can see these red bracelets, but they, so four of them,AO:
Oh yes, Cammie's showing me red bracelets that she has on her wrist. She's got quite a few, but she's also got red ones.Cammie:
these were put on the day Christopher died in the hotel room and everyone I know in Cambodia is like Cammie. I've never heard of these. They're yarn and they're some that are so thin, but they've been on since 2016. And I had a monk say, they'll come off when they're ready to come off. they're gonna bless you and they're gonna protect you and you know, but they were put on the day my son died and every one of my family had one on theirs, have all fallen off and.AO:
Wow. Yours hasn't. They're still there.Cammie:
They're still there. They're still there. I just hope when they fall off that I can catch it. I don't lose it and I wanna keep it, but it's just, I, there's such a spiritual connection. It's a long answer to what Cambodia means to me, but I can't answer that in a short way. I love the culture. I love the country, I love the people. Um, I love the work that we're doing there, and I've seen literally generational change, kids graduating from college that were living on a garbage dump. Okay. So I'm most proud. I mean, it's just, ugh. Makes my heart sing anyway. Yeah.AO:
Thank you. I couldn't not ask you. I've read the book so I know Cambodia has, I. A special place in your heart. And I couldn't not ask that question. I couldn't not. This is the last one, promise, and then I'm going to let you go. what do you say to other people who've gone through or are going through what you went through or something similar to what you've been through?Cammie:
addicted now to or substance misuse, or are you saying if you've lost somebody?AO:
Both, both who are on going through that flight at the moment? Do you even come off that flight? I'm not sure you do, Cammie. I'm not sure. It's a flight that you get on and then, End destination. I feel like to say there's an end destination whilst you are still on this journey is almost like saying, well, okay, I feel okay now. No more grieving. Everything's fine now. So I'm not going say that.Cammie:
No, it'll never be okay. There's a piece, a big piece in my heart that I know I'm gonna see him again someday. Um, so that gives me comfort. It's the missing him that is brutal. It's excruciating, it's missing on holidays. It's missing him walking in the door. It's missing his hugs, his laugh. Um, it's the missing, not ever seeing him. Be married or have children, those things, little things. I, when he passed away in Cambodia, he had this long, very soft material Nike shirt and. That's how I was able to get to sleep every night is I would wrap the sleeves around me and I still sleep with that shirt every night. And so if you've lost someone, that's something that really worked for me. Um, and it does still to this day. I also have his and my brother's thumbprint around my neck. That I wear every day, and I notice I'll be, you know, just if I'm, I'll just sit there and be rubbing his thumbprint and it's comforting to me. Um, so I've done a lot of things in his honor. Uh, we have a health clinic in Cambodia. It's called Christopher's Hope. We've done some research here. Uh, you know, lots of things to, to add to his legacy in addition to Christopher Wolf Crusade. So, Those are the things I really know that he's at peace and I know that he's in a better place and I talk to him all the time, and I, and I get signs from him. So if you're open to that, then look for those signs and ask for those signs from your loved ones. Um, if you have a family member that is fighting substance misuse, break the stigma. Uh, talk about it, talk about it with your family and friends so that you can get support. If friends aren't wanting to support you, and if they do, judge, those aren't your friends, um, they are still in there. Do not give up on your loved one. They're in there and sometimes it might not feel like they are because they say things maybe that are mean or hurtful because they know that you love them unconditionally and you're the only one. That they can say those things too. No one wakes up and says, I wanna be an addict. They don't want that life and they need help. And so you don't give up with them and you stay connected. It's about staying connected and getting them in a sober environment with sober friends that can support them. It takes a support ecosystem and it's a journey. It's not, it's not something you can just send your kid to rehab, like I said earlier, and write a check and they come out okay. It's something you have to continually worry, you know, work with them. Don't label them. I'm not a component of standing up. I aa does great things and there's a lot of things that are great about aa, but standing up and saying, hi, I'm Christopher. I'm an addict. I don't believe in that. Because I think that's owning the disease. I think it's bringing down their self-esteem. I think they have to be like, Hey, I'm Christopher. I'm powerful. I'm in recovery. You know, it needs to be that kind of conversation. So yeah, just don't give up on them. Um, There is support out there. There is a lot of free support now, uh, that used to not exist. There's websites, there's partnership to end addiction. Um, they're a great organization. They offer a lot of free resources to families, um, of how to do an intervention, how to talk to your loved one if you feel that they, and look for the signs. You know, don't, don't ignore and look the other way. If you see behavioral change and you see. See that they're being reclusive and not showering and being very edgy and, you know, don't, don't ignore those signs. Pay attention, um, because they're there if they're having an issue with substance misuse. But there are a lot of free resources out there today that did not exist before.AO:
Thank you so, so, so, so much. Thank youCammie:
Great, great. It was wonderful to meet you, and thank you for this platform and this opportunity. And you know what? I promise you we've saved a life today. Somebody out there listening, we've helped somebody that we don't even know and we might never know. I do too. Bless you.AO:
Thank you so, so, so, so much. Thank you. thank you for everything you're doing. Thank you, Cammi. Bye Cammi. Thank you so much for listening to another episode. Really, really quickly, could I please just ask if you like any of the episodes, please Just like, subscribe, send to your friends, share with people you know, because it's not the same. But ChataHolic is my labor of love. it's my way of trying to share with people the stories of these incredible people who are just like you and I, Cammie she's another guest who said this. If there's only one person who listens to one of these episodes, be it Cammie's story, Frank's story, Adva's story, it doesn't matter if there's one person who. It resonates with it's been able to help them or help someone they know. Then yes, please rate and share. Thank you. Bye.