Jackie Moon continues to address the scourge of opiates in her community.
Jackie Moon ’11, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, didn’t realize how prevalent drug abuse was in her small community of Monroe, Wisconsin, until her son became addicted to prescription painkillers, which subsequently led to heroin use and a six-year prison sentence.
She soon learned that heroin overdoses in her county had surged from zero per 100,000 people in 2008 to as many as 26 per 100,000 in just four years. She was grateful that her son hadn’t become part of that statistic, but she discovered that many families in her community weren’t so lucky.
In 2015, Moon founded the nonprofit organization FAITH (Fighting Addiction: It Takes Help), dedicated to sounding the alarm about the rampant spread of addiction in her community, providing education and support for affected individuals and families, and working to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease.
Soon after, Moon organized the first FAITH 5K community walk/run in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day. More than 300 members of the community participated. FAITH also provided affected families with resources and networking opportunities and worked with schools to educate students on the dangers of narcotics.
Moon’s efforts did not go unnoticed. In 2015, she earned a prestigious Jefferson Award, for “ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition,” from Multiplying Good (formerly the Jefferson Awards Foundation), the country’s leading organization celebrating public service.
Then Moon submitted a video showcasing her community work to Walden’s Scholars of Change contest in 2015 and was selected as one of five grand prize winners making a difference in the world.
Moon credits her Walden education with providing the tools she needed for this challenging undertaking. “My time at Walden University has given me the confidence to put my thoughts for bettering this community into action,” Moon says. “It has given me a base to gather data and empowered me to begin the process of getting valuable education to the entire community.”
Since Moon was profiled in Walden magazine in 2017, FAITH has continued and expanded its efforts. The nonprofit has raised thousands of dollars to further its community outreach, and recently held the seventh annual FAITH 5K. It has educated thousands of students on the dangers of narcotics, often presenting forums with DEA agents and other addiction specialists. It has increased awareness of local drop boxes where community members can safely dispose of unused medications and has distributed lockboxes to patients who have been prescribed opioids, to help prevent the medications from falling into the wrong hands.
Moon is happy to report that her son is out of prison and moving forward with his life. He’s coming to terms with the steps required to manage his addiction, and he’s finding peace through sobriety.
Moon says that while addiction statistics have shown some improvement in her county, COVID-19 has only escalated the problem, with people turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety and isolation.
She believes her efforts have made a difference. “You can’t sweep things under the rug and not talk about it and expect it to get better,” she says. “I don’t think [addiction] is ever going to be eradicated.” But, she says, the key to healing is “continued discussion about it … continued compassion for people who are going through it, and letting people know that they’re not alone.”