WHO WE ARE
On October 21, 2018, we lost our kind, funny, thoughtful, and inquisitive 19-year-old son Tyler to fentanyl poisoning. He died in the bathroom of a sober-living facility in Beverlywood, California, right around the corner from our house. Tyler, and our whole family, suffered from his substance use disorder for three years. Like many, he began using drugs to self-medicate for anxiety and to fit in. Tyler was brilliant, could fix anything, and was a master computer hacker who trusted and forgave everyone who wronged him. He was loved by so many friends and family, but didn’t realize his own worth. Our family invested all the time, money, and love we could to try to save our son--yet like countless other families across the country, we failed.
While Tyler had substance use disorder, there are many kids dying from fentanyl-poisoned drugs during their first time ever taking any street drug. Unbeknownst to many, street drugs (such as pills, cocaine, meth, and crack) are poisoned with fentanyl and sold via Instagram and Snapchat, targeting young teens. Kids cannot experiment with drugs, because one mistake can equal death. We are trying to prevent other families from going through what ours has by spreading the word about fentanyl. We are available to come to your school, parent group, social club or professional group to tell our story and talk about the dangers of fentanyl and how to prevent drug deaths.
WHAT WE DO
Juli Shamash, President of the Drug Awareness Foundation, sponsored and advocated for CA SB864 Tyler’s Law, which requires mandatory fentanyl testing whenever California hospitals order a standard five-panel drug test. It was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on August 22, 2022 and it went into effect on January 1, 2023.
We encourage school districts to have naloxone in schools and have their school police carry it.
We contact universities and urge them to have naloxone in all of their dorms and to include information in their freshman orientation about fentanyl-poisoned drugs.
We speak to college fraternities and sororities to teach about harm reduction and to give students the tools to make informed decisions.
We provide access to naloxone and fentanyl testing strips and explain how to use them.
We put up billboards, bus ads, and street level posters to warn the public about fentanyl-poisoned drugs.
We have booths at community events to educate and raise awareness.
We speak to schools, religious, parent, and professional organizations about addiction and overdose prevention.
We post on social media to raise awareness and inform about harm reduction.
We get local government buildings and the pylons at LAX to turn purple for Overdose Awareness Day on August 31.
Juli Shamash is a former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. After tragically losing her 19-year-old son Tyler from fentanyl poisoning in 2018, she and another grieving mom started Moms Against Drugs, a nonprofit to help other grieving parents. Juli is currently focusing on her family’s new non profit, Drug Awareness Foundation. She is working to promote fentanyl awareness and drug education for grades 7-12. She speaks to students, parents, and professional groups about drug abuse, overdose prevention, and the dangers of fentanyl-poisoned drugs. She also works on distributing fentanyl testing strips and naloxone in her community. Juli is the driving force behind the legislation, SB864, Tyler’s Law, which requires every hospital in California to test for fentanyl whenever they order a standard five-panel urine drug test. On August 22nd, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB864, Tyler’s Law and it went go into effect on January 1, 2023. She is now working on trying to get the law passed federally.
Director of Outreach & Fundraising
Charles is a consultant and attorney. After trying to help his son, Tyler, and seeing him lose his life to addiction, Charles recognized the void of knowledge that he had when it came to dealing with addiction. After encountering a cross section of people on a daily basis, Charles noticed that others also lacked knowledge when it came to dealing with addiction and illicit drug use, especially fentanyl. He now focuses his attention working passionately to help others fill this void through education and awareness.
Social Media Director
Alex is in her third year at UCLA School of Law, where she is involved in the Jewish Law Students Association and the Labor and Economic Justice Clinic, a pro-bono legal clinic. After losing her brother, Alex applied to law school in order to make a change in drug education laws on a state and federal level. She has helped run social media campaigns on Instagram, like Light Our Country Purple, in order to honor those lost to a drug overdose. Alex is passionate about spreading awareness, making drug harm reduction tools readily accessible, and reducing the stigma around addiction.
Managing Director & Campus Education Coordinator
Griffin Shamash is the founder and managing director for the Drug Awareness Foundation. He is in his junior year at McCombs School of Business at UT Austin, where he is studying Finance. Griffin represents his college on the University’s lacrosse team, and is also an Investment Analyst in the University finance club. After losing his brother in October of 2018, Griffin has dedicated his time to running operations and helping to organize educational events for Moms Against Drugs. In college, Griffin has made it his goal to distribute Narcan and fentanyl testing strips across UT Austin's campus, and has helped to fight overdose through speeches and demonstrations. Griffin is dedicated to stopping the opioid epidemic.
Mental Health SupportIf you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed: Teen Talk App https://www.teentalkapp.com/ Text with trained teens or look through their archives for others who have the same issues you are experiencing The free texting app is available to download on iOS and Android devices for teens 13-19. Teen Line https://www.teenline.org Talk by phone to trained teens who understand what you are going through Dial 988 for suicide or mental health crisis hotline 24 hours a day in various languages
Addiction SupportLA Alcoholics Anonymous https://lacoaa.org Alanon Groups of Greater Los Angeles https://alanonla.org/ Narcotics Anonymous NA (general info for addicts and the general public): www.na.org To find an available bed in a treatment facility in Los Angeles County https://sapccis.ph.lacounty.gov/sbat/ Substance Abuse Service Helpline (SASH) If you or someone you know has a problem with substances, toll-free at 844-804-7500 Recover LA https://www.recoverla.org/getting-treatment/
Education and Online ResourcesSong for Charlie https://www.songforcharlie.org Song for Charlie is for great information and classroom materials. Los Angeles County Public Health Department’s Safe Med LA, Working Together to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse and Overdose Deaths http://www.safemedla.org/resources2.html Drug Enforcement Agency for various resources including recovery and drug information https://www.dea.gov/resources DEA educational resources English & Spanish-language resources for students in grades 3-12, plus additional resources designed for educators, families, and professionals. https://operationprevention.com Natural High website Contains resources for parents and educators https://www.naturalhigh.org/blog/?inf_contact_key=4c034f073a525d317d8bebc9bfc0e4dbb7af0999dac2af6212784c39e05d2aef Real Deal on Fentanyl https://realdealonfentanyl.com/reduce-the-risk#test-for-fentanyl
Additional SupportSupport for Grieving Families MomsAgainstDrugs.com
Narcan & Testing StripsEndOverdose https://endoverdose.net/ Dance Safe https://dancesafe.org/ Dose Test https://dosetest.com/
How to talk to your kids about drugsTeens and drugs: 5 tips for talking with your kids If You Discover Your Child is Using Drugs: Start Talking Why you should talk to your kids about Drugs and Alcohol Everything you wanted to know about Narcan and where to get it near you For Teens and Parents
Lori Lahman is a health and wellness instructor who has expertise in teaching yoga, cycling and QiGong. In April, 2020 her oldest son Noah (18) died from accidental fentanyl poisoning. Since then, Lori has been committed to supporting families who have been affected by alcoholism and addiction. One of her primary objectives is to educate young people about the risks and consequences of drug misuse. She firmly believes in empowering people with effective coping mechanisms to deal with stress and tension. She has been actively involved with various communities that aim to help individuals heal from trauma and loss. In January 2023, Lori completed her certification as a grief educator who specializes in peer-to-peer support. Overall, her work is focused on promoting physical and mental well-being while also advocating for addiction awareness and prevention. Lori is a frequent speaker on these topics at recovery support groups, treatment centers, and high schools.