This is Cree, 12/24/2014.
Read more about Cree and The Cree Project below.
In Memory of Cree
December 9, 1995 - May 5, 2015
The Cree Project's mission: to address the nationwide epidemic of Substance Use and assist in recovery through education and outreach.
In August of 2015, I founded The Cree Project, in memory of my son Cree Castro-Topp, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Cree fatally overdosed in Veinte de Agosto Park in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 19, after a five-year battle that began with opioid painkillers and ended with heroin addiction. From 2017-2019, to promote awareness and prevention of opioid addiction and substance use, I worked collaboratively with key stakeholders throughout Southern Arizona to develop a curriculum and deliver empowerment-based outreach to teens and their families with an emphasis on rural communities. In May of 2018, after several months of working with The Cree Project, students at Douglas Ppep Tec and Douglas High Schools presented their own project educating their peers on the dangers of Opioids. In July of 2018, the University of Arizona Med-Start students presented a curriculum they developed for The Cree Project/SEAHEC Joint Opioid Education Initiative targeted for ages 11-13. Much of my inspiration to become a psychotherapist arose from my experiences with my son, along with my own lived experiences, and a desire to help others heal.
The Cree Project: Why?
The Cree Project’s primary focus at this time is education and outreach specific to Opioid Use Disorder. Current research finds that opioid use follows a basic template among young adults, and begins with non-prescription use around age 16, most often transitioning to heroin use within 4 years (1).
The source of the current epidemic began in the mid 90’s with the introduction and aggressive marketing of the prescription opioid painkiller Oxycontin by Purdue Pharmaceutical company, which is owned by the Sackler family.
As of October 2019, Purdue is preparing to declare bankruptcy in the face of its culpability in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people over the last two and a half decades. In the United States, from “1997 to 2007, opioid prescriptions steadily rose 700%, cresting in 2012 when nearly 260 million opioid prescriptions were written,” while deaths by opioid overdose “increased by nearly 600% from 1999 to 2017,” (2).
1. Guarino, Honoria, et al. “Young Adults' Opioid Use Trajectories: From Nonmedical Prescription Opioid Use to Heroin, Drug Injection, Drug Treatment and Overdose.” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 86, 2018, pp. 118–123., https://doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.04.017.
2. Hodge, J. G., Gulinson, C., Barraza, L., Johnson, W., Hensley, D., & Augur, H. (2018). Exploring Legal and Policy Responses to Opioids: America’s Worst Public Health Emergency. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3293347
In May of 2016, The Cree Project was granted its 501(c)(3) status in the state of Arizona.