A New PATH
Advancing Health and Wellness: PATH is advancing health and wellness for individuals and families that are dealing with our number one public health problem of addictive illness, by advocating for science-based, therapeutic care and a systemic change in healthcare delivery. Due to stigma, our current system criminalizes addicted individuals for what is essentially a chronic relapsing disorder that should be handled as a public health issue. There is little affordable treatment available, and people of poverty or color have almost no access to care. PATH employs a social marketing campaign to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of underserved individuals and their families. We educate the public as to the true nature of addictive illness. We work to dispel the fear-based shame associated with addictive illness, change discriminatory punitive policies to harm reduction strategies, and to redirect resources from criminal justice to healthcare and expand access to care.
Description: A New PATH is a voluntary organization of parents of individuals suffering from the disease of addiction, concerned citizens and community leaders working together to advocate for better understanding of and treatment for the disease of addiction. Our mission is to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness through education and compassionate support and to advocate for therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies. Our purpose is to partner with health care professionals, the criminal justice system, the media, and recovering addicts to seek therapeutic justice for substance-abuse related crimes. Our goal is to reduce recidivism, save lives, heal families and move toward a healthier society.
We believe that instead of punitive incarceration, addicts need the right environment and strong treatment and rehabilitation programs in order to recover. Our proposals for therapeutic justice are: 1. Long term mandatory rehabilitation in a structured therapeutic community-based recovery environment for non-violent offenders. 2. If the nature of the crime does not allow for community-based treatment, sentencing should include immediate placement in a rehabilitation and recovery program within the prison system. 3. Upon release from prison or recovery homes, substance abuse offenders should be mandated to a transitional program in a sober-living environment to prepare them to re-enter society.
PATH grew out of a series of meetings with parents, Superior Court Judges and officers of the criminal justice system in Spring of 1999. The three founding members are all parents of individuals whose lives have been devastated by the disease of addiction. In 2000, PATH was a strong proponent of Proposition 36 in California, mandating treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. Director Gretchen Burns Bergman served as State Chairwoman for Proposition 36 and continues to be actively involved in the implementation process in an effort to ensure that it is carried out as a therapeutic health care model, rather than a punitive criminal justice-driven plan.
We have seen first-hand not only the devastation of the disease of addiction, but also the harmful effects of punitive incarceration on non-violent drug offenders. Our society has a failed approach to dealing with addicts. By sharing our experiences we seek to reduce the stigma of the disease. Through education and advocacy we can help to change people’s misconceptions about substance abuse and create more positive solutions.
PATH is committed to educating the community at large by addressing alternatives to incarceration, sentencing reform, drug education and access to treatment and rehabilitation. We hold regular educational meetings that are open to the public where we present speakers such as psychiatrists, superior court judges, prison wardens, harm reduction organizations, etc. These are called our 101 series of seminars. We submit articles to local newspapers, psychiatric newsletters, and other publications and have become a major resource for San Diego’s media on drug policy issues. Through our speaker’s bureau we address civic-minded organizations, high school and college students. We speak to elected officials and present panel discussions to the professional and lay communities, increasing awareness of addiction as a chronic relapsing illness. Our Executive Director and volunteers make semi-annual trips to Sacramento to talk to legislators about addiction treatment concerns. We print a quarterly newsletter of information that is distributed to 3800 people.
We strive to be a constant voice in the criminal justice system speaking for human rights. Current advocacy projects include the promotion of legislation for greater treatment availability, reducing the risks of inherent health problems associated with drug abuse, bringing more residential beds to the community as well as behind bars, and mobilizing people in recovery to advocate for an educated, compassionate and therapeutic approach to dealing with substance abuse. We know that the human voice is powerful, so we print and distribute “Faces of Recovery” calendars highlighting individuals’ stories of addiction and recovery. We just printed our 9th calendar. We hold an annual “Strut for Sobriety!” community awareness and recovery celebration each September. These were started in 2005. In 2012 this event won a San Diego Bravo Award. Other projects include art exhibits and books of poetry highlighting inspirational stories of addiction and recovery. Projects to bring more treatment opportunities behind bars include the Self-Reflection Garden at Donovan State Prison and the Book Club Behind Bars.
We feel that it is vital to collaborate with all of the major stakeholders, including: the recovery community, community leaders, the criminal justice system, healthcare professionals, and family members. Our Executive Director has served on a Medical Society Commission, and PATH members sit on such boards as San Diego Mental Health Association, NAMI and NCADD. The Co-Founders and President of the Board of Directors speak at seminars regularly with addiction medicine physicians and psychiatrists to present both the humanistic and scientific argument for therapeutic, rather than punitive approaches to society’s problem of substance abuse and addiction. PATH is a member of several task forces regarding substance abuse, mental health, and therapeutic justice. We continue to partner with and advise various treatment providers such as Stepping Stone, CRASH, Sharp Mesa Vista, and SD County Probation. PATH was a lead agency for the nation-wide Demand Treatment campaign to create more treatment services, and is a member of the national Faces and Voices of Recovery advocacy campaign. We are also a member of CURB, a statewide coalition for sentencing and prison reform.
We connect with other parent groups in other communities for broader impact through collaborative campaigns. In 2010 we started the statewide campaign, “Moms United to End the War on Drugs” which is broadened to a nationwide campaign in 2011. We now have 17 states represented in this movement led by mothers who are calling for health-oriented and restorative drug policies in lieu of arrest and mass incarceration.
In addition to our other activities, we try to reach out to individuals and families who are suffering as a result of this illness with a resource guide of available services and by offering a parent survival kit of information. Our office receives countless phone calls and emails for resource information and support. Through our programs we touch lives personally as well as striving to create changes in public policy that will benefit our communities and society in general.
PATH has a strong Board of Directors and an Advisory Board of experts in the medical, legal and healthcare fields. In 2011 we created a new chapter of PATH in Los Angeles. PATH receives funding from membership, corporate and individual sponsors, fundraisers and grants. We have received major grant support from The California Endowment, Drug Policy Alliance, Alliance Healthcare Foundation, as well as other smaller grants. We have approximately 350 paying members at this time, and we also have a mailing list of 3800 to which we send fliers and quarterly newsletters.
Mission Support Grant Application Video
Mission Support Grant Award Video
Contact Information: Gretchen Burns Bergman, Co-Founder & Executive Director, A New PATH, Lead Organizer of Moms United End the War on Drugs, firstname.lastname@example.org, 619-670-1184 | www.anewpathsite.org | www.momsunited.net | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube
- Overdose Awareness Vigil
- Caravan for Peace 2012
- Moms Speak Out
- Moms United Press Conference – Washington D.C.
- Moms United to End the War on Drugs – KPBS
- Moms United to End the War on Drugs – Bill of Rights
- Moms United to End the War on Drugs – Press
- A New PATH – In the News
Mission Statement: A New PATH’s mission is to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness through education and compassionate support and to advocate for therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies. Our goal is to expand access to quality cost-effective treatment services and to end discriminatory drug policies that serve as roadblocks to recovery.
Advancing Health and Wellness: PATH advocates for a systemic change in healthcare delivery for addictive illness, as current drug policies tend to be punitive rather than therapeutic. One in four families is dealing first hand with addictive illness. Due to stigma, addicted individuals have been banished to the criminal justice system, rather than being handled as a public health issue. People of color or poverty have little access to addiction treatment services. We employ a social marketing campaign to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of underserved individuals and families by changing discriminatory policies and working to expand access to services.
- Moms United to End the War on Drugs Bill of Rights
- A Mother Speaks Out
- One Mother Explains How Her Sons’ Addiction Brought Her to Anti-Drug-War Activism
- Paradigm Magazine Article, 2012