— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 9, 2016
On July 14, in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, Speaker Ryan signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act—bipartisan legislation to tackle America’s opioid epidemic. With his signature, CARA was sent to the president’s desk, where it was signed into law on July 22.
This is a big deal. Sure, it’s an example of the work the House is doing, but what matters is how this will help everyday Americans struggling with addiction. Americans like the Jaskulski family of Franklin, Wisconsin.
Michelle Jaskulski—one of Speaker Ryan’s constituents—spends her Saturday mornings (every one, from 10 to noon) leading an addiction and recovery ministry for those in her community who are suffering at the hands of opioid abuse.
It’s called Beyond Addiction. What started as a support group for individuals—six participants the first time—now partners with its church congregation and community, area high schools, and even the police department to raise addiction awareness—and reassure those struggling they aren’t alone.
Michelle’s story begins four years ago, when she and her husband, Darrell, learned that their sons were addicted to heroin.
“We found out a few years ago that our two boys were abusing prescription pills,” recalled Michelle during a phone call last week. “Eventually, over the course of four years, they progressed to using intravenous heroin.”
Her sons, Kyle and Darrell Jr., were all-American athletes in high school. In fact, the Jaskulskis are exactly what you think of when you think Wisconsin—four kids, Packers loyalists, vacation time up north.
But addiction didn’t care about the normalcy of their family. Why? Because addiction doesn’t discriminate—and it’s affecting communities all over the country.
“I went through a period where I was depressed, ashamed, confused,” Michelle explained. “Then, I happened to see on the news another family who lost their son to heroin. So I started googling stuff, and I found a family support group, which really and truly was a life saver to me. I realized I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t my fault.
“So after that, my husband and I started to get really involved. We knew of a few other people at our church—the Southbrook Church in Franklin—that were experiencing the same thing. So we started a ministry at the church—an addiction and recovery ministry.”
And that ministry has grown exponentially. It’s become a safe haven for addicts and families alike to turn to when they have nowhere else to go. They are offering community and accountability.
Which brings us back to July 14. Michelle was among those in the audience at the bill signing. She was joined by Darrell Jr., who, along with his brother, is 13 weeks sober. Afterwards, Speaker Ryan had a chance to say hello, having met the Jaskulskis earlier in the year to talk about this important legislation.
“He gave [Darrell Jr.] a big hug, and said how proud he was of him. It was very touching—it was a great experience.”