DEA Washington Division Hosts 1st Family Summit to Engage with Families Affected by Fentanyl Poisoning

WASHINGTON, DC – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hosted regional family summits across the country in support of those who have lost loved ones to fentanyl poisoning. This is the first undertaking of its kind for the DEA field divisions and builds off the momentum of this summer’s Inaugural Family Summit hosted at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, VA.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram delivered remarks on November 17th during the Washington Division’s Family Summit in Washington, DC

“The Justice Department will never give up in our effort to protect American lives,” said US Attorney General Merrick Garland. “We will continue to work tirelessly to get deadly drugs — including fentanyl — out of our communities. And through today’s Family Summit, we will help prevent future tragedies. Your stories and your participation are indispensable to the success of this effort. We are humbled to do this work alongside you, and we stand with you in honor of your loved ones.”

“The passion, commitment and incredible work these families are doing to prevent others from experiencing the profound pain of losing a loved one to a fentanyl poisoning inspires all of us at DEA. They have made it their mission to save lives. Their efforts are, and will remain, an integral part of DEA’s outreach, prevention and education programs,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “The family summits are one of the ways DEA is working to meet this moment.”

Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget hosted 85 attendees, including the families of loved ones lost to drug overdose and fentanyl poisoning from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. “At DEA, we recognize that part of the change lies in connecting with the people that are being affected by these unscrupulous drug trafficking organizations that are duping our youth, harnessing the accessibility and anonymity of social media, and breaking apart our families, your families . And due to the ever-changing and challenging issues behind the current Fentanyl Poisoning Epidemic, we are called to do things differently,” said SAC Forget during his welcoming remarks.

The Summit was very emotional and educational to all those who attended. Family representative and DC resident LaMonica Jeffrey stated: “Thank you all for hosting the Family Summit and inviting the community of families out to share our stories. Thank you all for caring and taking the time to listen. I am grateful that someone came up with the idea and decided to become curious about the flip side of what Opioids are doing to so many and how it is destroying so many lives.”

The program included speakers and representatives from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), DC Prevention Centers, local US Attorney’s Offices, and advocates and representatives from local organizations created by parents and families who have lost a loved one to drug overdoses or poisonings, to include the Addiction Policy Forum, Christina Rabadán-Diehl, Brooke’s House, Lost Voices of Fentanyl, Surviving Our Ultimate Loss (SOUL), and The Chris Atwood Foundation. During lunch, DC native motivator, Monica Livingston, engaged with the participants with an interactive and entertaining session focused on connecting with your inner self in order to move forward.

The highlight of the event was the session “Share Your Story” when family representatives shared their stories, experiences and concerns, including Mr. Alan May, a former NHL player and current Washington Capitals NHL TV analyst, who bravely spoke about his son’s death publicly for the first time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 107,622 people died by drug poisoning in the United States in 2021. A majority of drug poisoning deaths are attributed to fentanyl.

The DEA regional family summits gather families who are passionate about saving lives through increased public awareness of fentanyl. These summits allow DEA to listen and learn from families as they share their personal stories. Additionally, the summits provide participants with information on national drug threats and resources available to enhance local prevention efforts.

If you are interested in information on how to get involved in future events, please complete the Advocates for Change form and submit it to [email protected]

DEA has resources available to help parents and caregivers talk to kids about the dangers of drug use. You can also visit the Get Smart About Drugs website.

If you or someone you know needs help with substance use or mental health disorders, please visit DEA’s Recovery Resources page for a list of resources.

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