Juice WRLD’s Mother Speaks on Son’s Death and Addiction for the First Time

Juice WRLD’s life ended way too soon due to his addiction and need to self-medicate. Although his artistry left—and continues to leave—a lasting impact on the world, the rapper’s mother wants to be open about her son’s struggle. 

Juice WRLD’s mother, Carmela Wallace, sat down with Chicago’s ABC affiliate to talk about her son for the first time since his death. During the conversation, Wallace explains that her son’s passing can serve as an example for others as long as she is open about its cause.

“It was devastating,” Wallace said. “But, one thing I decided early on was that I was not going to hide the fact that he died from a drug overdose. I did not want to keep that a secret because there are a lot of people who deal with that every day.”

Wallace went on to say that she and Juice WRLD talked about everything—including his addiction. This led to a conversation about self-medication and putting his mental health in perspective.

“I said, ‘if you have anxiety, then you need to get medicated properly for it instead of medicating yourself,'” she recalled. “I talked to him about it. I told him my biggest fear was him overdosing on the stuff. That’s why I made the decision I have to talk about it with other people. I can’t keep that as a secret.”

To address this issue, Wallace is furthering Juice WRLD’s brand by starting the Live Free 999 Foundation. This organization will help young people dealing with mental health issues and drug addiction. Wallace explains that a lot of Juice WRLD’s fans and friends have reached out to her following his death to disclose their own mental health issue, moving her to start the foundation.

“That’s our objective with our foundation. Normalize the conversation, so it has to start with me,” she continued. “I hope it’s what he wanted, was a legacy of healing. To let people know that you don’t have to suffer alone.”

Although the focus is mental health relief, the Live Free 999 Foundation will also do its part to uplift the community in various ways. It has recently donated new musical instruments to Juice WRLD’s former high school in Chicago Heights. 

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This Addiction Treatment Works. Why Is It So Underused?

“In the drawings, I did pretty good,” said Eric Alick, 63, of Philadelphia, who completed a contingency management program for cocaine addition at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz V.A. Medical Center in Pennsylvania. “I might get three ‘good jobs’ in a row, but then, bingo.”

Among the things he bought with his rewards were a new drill set for his job as a handyman, perfume for his wife and coffee and meals for homeless veterans whom he had met in the hospital cafeteria.

One problem with contingency management, evidence suggests, is that people have less success staying abstinent after the treatment ends. For that reason, Richard Rawson, a researcher at the University of Vermont who has studied meth addiction for decades, believes it should be used indefinitely, just as medications for opioid addiction often are.

“Unfortunately, addiction is a chronic brain disease and treatments need to be designed to accommodate this reality,” he said.

For Ms. Waxler-Malloy, losing the debit card when her four months of contingency management ended in early January was hard, although her therapy sessions and 12-step meetings helped. Then, in May, she lost her waitressing job because of the pandemic and she relapsed, using meth and heroin “full force,” she said, for three weeks before stopping with help from Brightview.

Still, the eight months she went without using drugs was her longest stretch of abstinence in more than two decades. She believes she may not have relapsed if contingency management, with its promise of rewards, had still been part of her treatment regimen.

“That kept me real accountable,” she said recently. “Even just to stop at McDonald’s when you have that little bit of extra money, to get a hamburger and a fries when you’re hungry. That was really big to me.”

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Trump addresses addiction, depression due to COVID-19 lockdowns

President Trump on Friday warned of depression and addiction, which health professionals says is on the rise amid coronavirus lockdowns, during the final 2020 presidential debate. 

Trump and 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden took opposing stances toward the country’s future in the middle of a pandemic, with Biden telling the audience that the U.S. is “about to go into a dark winter” and the president disagreeing with that statement.

“I don’t think we’re going to have a dark winter at all,” the president, who has been criticized for initially downplaying the severity of COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic, said.

Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding his campaign plane at Nashville International Airport Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding his campaign plane at Nashville International Airport Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

He went on to say that furthering lockdowns, however, could steer Americans down a darker emotional path.

“We can’t keep this country closed,” Trump said. “This is a massive country with a massive economy. There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level nobody’s ever seen before. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

PERCENTAGE OF AMERICANS REPORTING DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS TRIPLES DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, STUDY SHOWS

Biden responded by saying he was “going to shut down the virus, not the country,” adding that Trump’s “ineptitude” is what caused the country to shut down.

“Why businesses have gone under, why schools have closed, why people have lost their living, and they are concerned,” Biden said. “He should have been — instead of in a sand trap at his golf course — he should have been negotiating with Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats and Republicans…”

ESTIMATES SUGGEST DRUG OVERDOSES ON THE RISE SINCE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

The number of Americans reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression since the outset of the virus reached an all-time high in September, particularly among young people, according to an October report from mental health nonprofit Mental Health America.

Firefighters and paramedics with Anne Arundel County Fire Department wear enhanced PPE, during the coronavirus pandemic, as they treat a patient in cardiac arrest as a result of a drug overdose on May 6, 2020. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Firefighters and paramedics with Anne Arundel County Fire Department wear enhanced PPE, during the coronavirus pandemic, as they treat a patient in cardiac arrest as a result of a drug overdose on May 6, 2020. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The report found that 9.7% of U.S. youth are experiencing severe depression compared to 9.2% from the same time last year. Among U.S. adults, more than 8 in 10 people who took anxiety screenings in September had moderate to severe symptoms. The same rate was consistently true for those who took depression screenings between March and September.

CORONAVIRUS CREATES ‘PERFECT STORM’ FOR ADDICTION IN UNITED STATES

Alcohol and drug abuse has gone through the roof. At least 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related fatalities since COVID-19 lockdowns began, and several have reported increases in alcohol-related deaths, as well, according to an October issue brief from the American Medical Association (AMA), citing a number of national reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported a 10% increase in overdose deaths during the first few

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Moms Who Lost Custody of Their Kids Due to Addiction Overcome Darkness to Find ‘Greater Things’

Moms Who Lost Custody of Their Kids Due to Addiction Overcome Darkness to Find ‘Greater Things’

“I learned that I was a person and I was not my disease and that it was okay my kids could not keep me sober,” says Freedom House alumna Christina Compton

Three years ago, Christina Compton was in an incredibly dark period of her life after struggling with addiction to the point where she lost custody of her two kids and was arrested while pregnant with her third child.

“I felt like there was no hope or no chance,” Compton, 33, tells PEOPLE. “I carried around so much guilt and shame from losing my other kids and I felt like they should’ve been enough to keep me sober, [but] it wasn’t. I never understood what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t stop doing drugs or alcohol.”

Elsewhere in Kentucky, mom Brittany Edwards was also struggling with her substance addiction and had lost custody of her four kids.

“Since I can remember, I’ve been a drug addict,” says Edwards, now 31. “It took me many, many years to realize I needed help.”

However, in the time since then, both Compton and Edwards have turned their lives around — thanks to the nonprofit organization Volunteers of America and their treatment center, The Freedom House, which helps pregnant women and moms stay with their kids while recovering.

Edwards was the Manchester Freedom House’s first graduate this past July, while Compton finished Louisville’s program in August 2017 and now works there as a therapist, technician, peer support specialist and intake specialist.

RELATED: Introducing PEOPLE’s Mental Health Initiative: Let’s Talk About It

Courtesy Christina Compton Christina Compton with her kids, Christina, CaRon and Wyatt

Volunteers of America Brittany Edwards with her kids Rylen, Ally, Jackson and Bentley

“Without them, I don’t know where I would have ended up,” Compton says of the facility. “You go into rehab saying, ‘Okay, I’m going to learn about my disease. I’m going to get sober,’ and Volunteers of America gave me so much more than that.”

Adds Edwards: “I’ve never completed anything in my life except for this program… Being an addict, it’s hard. No one is immune to addiction and they just taught me how to accept life on life’s terms and be okay with that.”

For Compton, her history with substance abuse began at age 9 after she suffered an injury from gymnastics and was given narcotic pain medication.

“I remember taking those and liking the way that they made me feel,” she recalls, adding that she “went off the deep end” after her mom died when Compton was in the eighth grade.

By 19, Compton was a mother of two but still using drugs and alcohol in what she says became “a vicious cycle” and caused her to lose custody of her kids.

“I just felt like this empty vessel of a woman and a failure,” she explains. “Because the one thing in my mind that

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Nonprofit Partnership to End Addiction launches with national campaign featuring music by The Lumineers and podcast hosted by Elizabeth Vargas

Nonprofit Partnership to End Addiction launches with national campaign featuring music by The Lumineers and podcast hosted by Elizabeth Vargas

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Oct. 20, 2020

NEW YORK, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Partnership to End Addiction announced its launch today with a campaign emphasizing the importance of personal connection in addressing our nation’s addiction crisis. A 3D-animated series of advertisements features music by Grammy-nominated band The Lumineers. The nonprofit also released a podcast hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Elizabeth Vargas.

“Following the merger of two leading addiction nonprofits, we are now a combined organization helping family members embrace the critical role they play in ending addiction,” said Creighton Drury, Chief Executive Officer at Partnership to End Addiction. “When we foster strong connections with loved ones, we see better outcomes in prevention and treatment – and in strengthening families and communities as agents of change in transforming the way our nation addresses addiction.”

‘Start with Connection’ Campaign

Building on a history of iconic public service announcements, the Partnership is seeking to reach parents and caregivers through television, print, radio and digital media. The “Start with Connection” campaign will encourage empathy and understanding, while offering hope and resources to begin conversations. The song “Salt and the Sea” by The Lumineers is from III, a narrative album that explores the destructive impact of addiction in a family. Advertisements will be available in 60-, 30- and 15-second broadcast units and a short-film version for select online distribution.

Watch the short-film version here.

“The loneliness and isolation of the pandemic are exacerbating the addiction crisis at an alarming rate,” said Emily Moyer, Chief Marketing Officer at Partnership to End Addiction. “While everyone is talking about physical distancing and wearing masks, we are encouraging family members to begin closing emotional distance in the home.”

‘Heart of the Matter with Elizabeth Vargas’ Podcast

The new podcast features personal conversations about substance use and recovery. Notable early guests include former NBA player Chris Herren, journalist and bestselling author David Sheff, and former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy. “Heart of the Matter with Elizabeth Vargas” is available on iTunes, Spotify and other major platforms.

“So many of us struggling with addiction are suffering quietly, certain we are alone. We talk about it with hushed tones, fearful of what others may think,” said Vargas. “There is tremendous value in connecting with others and sharing our own stories. I hope our podcast inspires others to open up and seek that support from their friends and family.”

About Partnership to End Addiction
Partnership to End Addiction is a national nonprofit uniquely positioned to reach, engage and help families impacted by addiction. With decades of experience in research, direct service, communications and partnership-building, we provide families with personalized support and resources — while mobilizing policymakers, researchers and health care professionals to better address addiction systemically on a national scale. For more information, visit drugfree.org.

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Backstreet Boys star AJ McLean opens up on his addiction: ‘I wasn’t me anymore’

McLean has sought professional help on his road to sobriety.

AJ McLean is opening up about his 20-year battle with addiction.

The 42-year-old Backstreet Boys star and “Dancing with the Stars” contestant revealed to “Good Morning America” what happened when he first did drugs.

“The first time I tried drugs was literally an hour before my call time to ‘The Call’ video shoot,” McLean recently told “GMA’s” Will Reeve. “I was off the walls.”

The singer also said he kept his addiction a secret until his behavior began affecting his band.

“When the boys kind of caught on, I missed out on rehearsal,” McLean said. “They basically broke into my house, and they dumped ice water on me while I was passed out in my bed.”

“Everybody started to catch on,” he added. “I wasn’t me anymore, you know, I was just living a lie.”

Eleven months ago, it appeared McLean’s addiction was in the forefront of his life after a trip to Las Vegas.

“I was never sober. Not for a second,” McLean said. “And the turning point for me was when I came back home, my wife could smell it on my breath and my youngest of my two daughters would not sit with me.”

McLean said he’s been sober since that day and he’s working with a program and a sponsor.

“There’s too much to live for today — my beautiful children, my amazing wife, my career, my brothers,” McLean said. “I’ve never felt more grounded than I do today.”

ABC News’ chief medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said a person can become addicted to drugs after trying them for the first time.

“In speaking with addiction experts, it absolutely does happen,” she said, adding that addiction can be associated with a genetic predisposition or could be situational.

“We’ve heard those stories as well — people who have surgery or are in an accident and that’s what starts their addiction,” Ashton noted.

Addiction warning signs according to Ashton, can include the following:

If you’re of thinking of holding an intervention for a loved one, Ashton’s advice is to “plan, plan, plan,” and seek professional help.

Ashton said when a person agrees to go for treatment, they often will need a transporter to accompany them to the facility.

“This requires daily work,” Ashton added. “This is a lifelong battle like any other chronic illness. If you can’t see it, sometimes people take it less seriously. I encourage people to look at this no differently than heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure. It’s a disease, period.”

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Addicted, Recovering Or Cured? Addiction Medicine in Rehab

People and the families of drug or alcohol abusers who contact me to enter our drug-free detox and rehab program are spilling their stories of grief to me daily. This caller's information does not even make me blink anymore.

He's been to 6 different programs, all 12 Step, 3 medical. They put him on wellbutrin, concerta, celexa, zyprexa. Oh, he's also ADHD and Bi-polar. We just don't know what to do with him anymore.

This mother is calling for help. She was given 'help' by the 3 other centers that put him on the above meds. One has to ask: Is this rehab or 'pill stacking'? Pill stacking is the use of multiple drugs to get intoxicated.

Addiction medicine may be becoming an underground racket that swells with 'off-label' use of prescription drugs. Off-label means the pharmaceuticals weren't tested and approved for use in treating addictions. The doctors aren't being stopped by the checks and balances of the industry as it's so wide spread. Drug doctors are protected by anonymity: 'If everyone is doing it, it looks usual or right'.

Family of addicted loved ones call me, who have been to a medical drug rehab program, and are on more drugs after going to rehab than before they entered. Why? This does not sound right to me.

Rehabilitation means:

Returned back to normal or right condition again. To make healthy again.

If addictions medicine is busily medicating symptoms, are they also creating drug-free clear headed people? Yet, a rehab center that tries to do it's best has to lay down a rock solid 'drug-free' policy, as so many abusers are coming in from other rehabilitation programs loaded up on meds for their newly diagnosed disorders. Some disagree, yet, those white coats and Doctorate certificates inspire much confidence. Is their certainty well founded?

In British Columbia, Canada, Rx pharmacare billed out over $ 1 billion in one year. That province has the population of maybe Oregon and Idaho. FYI about $ 60 billion was spent on marketing pharmaceuticals in the US in one year. Doctors get free lunches, expensive dinners, golf vacations etc. for writing the most prescriptions for a specific drug or pharmaceutical company. Off label Rx writing by doctors accounts for much of these incentives.

If you are still wondering why your son or daughters addiction isn't being cured, follow the money.

The drug rehab industry is getting a bit of a bad repute, due to increasing numbers of drugs being pushed at addicts as the next wonder drug for recovery. My main job as a rehab consultant has been working to convince mothers and fathers that there is nothing wrong with their kids; they don't have defective genes .

The only thing wrong is that they have been sold a new pill for a pill. I tell parents, essentially, that their kids may not have had an honest try at rehab yet. That's the primary job of helping people truly recover from addiction. First, you start by telling …

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