Don Flattery is a new Brunswick County, North Carolina resident, having moved from the Washington, DC suburbs of Fairfax County Virginia in March of this year.
He is also an impacted family member, having lost his 26 year old son to an opioid overdose on Labor Day, 2014.
Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe appointed Don to the Virginia Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse in the fall of 2014, where he represented Virginia families struggling with this issue. He also assisted Fairfax County government leaders with development of a framework for community action, is the Policy Chair for the national FED UP Coalition and a member of the board of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.
After losing his son Kevin, Don retired in 2015 as a federal manager to devote himself fully to prevention and treatment of those addicted to opioid drugs. His primary interest in creating meaningful change revolves around the need to provide effective treatment for those suffering from substance use disorders. This interest is borne out of his son’s experience where, like many struggling with opioid addiction, he tried a variety of treatment and recovery pathways including in-patient detoxification, intensive out-patient, use of the medication buprenorphine, step program support and a “28-day” abstinence only residential program.
Don is a committed supporter of the use of FDA approved medication in treatment for those afflicted by opioid addiction. Lack of understanding about the role of medications in addiction treatment, meant that his son was confronted in some recovery settings with judgment about his use of buprenorphine. He was made to feel that he was not in recovery, not serious about his sobriety and substituting one addiction for another. That unnecessary pressure led to his son abandoning the use of his needed treatment medications and ultimately to his loss. Don believes that under no circumstances should anyone with an already impaired sense of self-esteem be faced with judgment and stigma when using evidence-based treatment medications now known to be producing recovery success.