In an era of many virtual happenings, it’s common to see people resort to online forums or social media platforms whenever any assistance is needed – naturally when there’s a need for financial support, many flock to websites designed specifically for fundraising.
Substance use disorder treatment isn’t always affordable; according to the National Institute of Health, the average cost for a year of methadone maintenance treatment was $4,700 per patient last year — in these cases, funding websites are an increasingly popular alternative for people affected by addiction.
Jesse Boland, director of online marketing of the fundraising website YouCaring.com, said that although his team has not yet compiled specific numerical data on fundraisers for addiction treatment, the campaigns are usually very successful.
“Our platform is very effective in providing financial help and emotional support for those struggling with all types of addiction,” he said. “Whether it’s someone who needs help affording drug or alcohol treatment or a parent raising money to raise addiction awareness, we encourage people to ask for help.”
In a recent addiction recovery treatment campaign featured on YouCaring, a wife asked the community for help her husband Aaron into treatment, since their insurance would only cover 30 days and he needed more extensive support.
Another fundraiser currently trending was primarily organized by a mother who needed financial help in order to get treatment for her daughter Danya, a philanthropist and art instructor who has been struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. Her family was able to raise over $1,000 and Danya got into treatment before the beginning of the year.
“Generally, we see fundraisers for addiction treatment do better than average,” Boland said. “Due to the circumstances, addiction fundraisers are generally set up by a loved one of the beneficiary.”
According to Boland, his company truly believes that no one should face financial hardships because they can’t afford to pay for drug addiction treatment and that YouCaring allows people to keep the full amount of money they raise and doesn’t charge fees to raise money for medical bills.
“The [YouCaring] team is always looking for ways our crowdfunding platform can help families suffering,” he said. “We’re actively creating dedicated resources around addiction treatment.”
About a month ago, Kayden Carlos, a 27-year-old from Brigham City, Utah, realized he needed to help his family pay for the expenses of a treatment program for his brother Craig, so he decided to set up a fundraiser. Craig struggled with a heroin and meth addiction for the past decade and had sporadic instances of sobriety but continued to relapse each time.
“We didn’t know what to expect or how much we were going to get from the campaign,” Kayden said. “When we immediately posted, it just started trending with our local friends and the community, along with people I knew from other states. We just received so much support for my brother. People cared.”
The Carlos family raised
$1,150 in just a few days, which allowed Craig to enroll in treatment on January 3, 2017, and the family continues to raise money.
“It was really amazing to see Craig’s gratitude,” Kayden said. “I think that for anybody who struggles with addiction, and I know for my brother oftentimes it was more or less like ‘how much can I get out of everybody?’ But instead of that being the case, my brother felt genuine gratitude because he didn’t even know half of the people who donated.”
Craig is still in an inpatient treatment facility now and will stay there until January 31.
“My brother is doing amazing,” Kayden said. “We had him in treatment programs in the past, but usually other programs would put him on drugs in order to recover from heroin. This is a different approach. He took Suboxone for a week and completely cut that off; now he’s not on any other medication.”
While fundraisers for addiction treatment seem quite common on sites that allow for independent fundraisers to be set up, unfortunately, memorial fundraisers for drug addicts are even more common. But even when fundraisers are set up after tragic events, they can help those who were indirectly affected by addiction and are trying to recover.
On July 15, 2016, Carol Cooper of Hewitt, NJ, lost her only son Brian to a combination of heroin and fentanyl. Her son suffered from severe anxiety and was given the deadly mixture he was told would help him but instead made his heart stop and he died instantly.
“My son had separation anxiety disorder when he was young, and he couldn’t sleep so he always looked for Ambien and after a while that didn’t work anymore,” she said. “He never injected drugs, and he was never in rehab because I never knew he was on drugs. It was shocking.”
Last October, Cooper decided to use a funding website to raise money. So far, she raised more than half of the amount she aims to get, and was able to create a non-profit organization called A Life for Brian, which allows her to recover from the tragic loss by using her creativity, while at the same time helping people struggling with addiction.
“I was a special education teacher for nine years, and before my son passed I created these teddy bears to help children who were bullied,” she said. “I had won many awards for the bears, and they were featured in many magazines. When my son passed something told me to continue doing that but to gear the entire concept towards drug addiction.”
The teddy bears developed by Cooper come in two styles: One to help people build positive self-esteem during recovery treatment; another to help those who have lost a loved one to addiction – proceeds from sales and donations from the fundraiser will go to recovering addicts.
“I took a lot of time and came up with this really good tool, a tri-fold brochure that tells people all the different things they need to do while they’re in recovery to build self-esteem. It works for kids when they feel like they’re not going to make it,” Cooper said. “I couldn’t save my son’s life, but if I can save another person’s life then I will understand why I am still here and my son is not.”
by: Livia Areas-Holmblad