While the opioid epidemic has finally been addressed by prominent leaders in recent years, this crisis is no stranger to the music community. The devastating reality is that music and drug use go hand in hand. Like music, substance abuse does not discriminate whose life it takes a hold of – but oftentimes and unfortunately leads to devastating consequences. Of the 64,000 deaths related to drug overdose in 2016, 59,000 of them involved opioids – a record high number that sadly continues to rise. This alarming statistic is in part due to the unique differences between opioid addiction and other substance abuse such as the rapid physiological dependency, violent withdrawal symptoms, and general availability and access of the drug. Most opioid users are introduced to narcotics through prescriptions administered to manage chronic pain due to preexisting medical conditions. These factors in combination with the difficulty to maintain good mental health while using, make opioid addiction particularly dangerous compared to other substance abuse.
Opening up a dialogue about opioid addiction and abuse can be uncomfortable, but awareness is one of the first steps on the long road ahead to put a stop to this public health crisis. Beyond Dope Productions, a new nonprofit, is taking lead in the conversation. Based in New York, this amazing organization is throwing their first benefit concert on May 12, 2018 at the Brooklyn Bazaar feat. Jantsen & Eliminate (click to RSVP) to raise money for research into the treatment for opioid addiction. Founder and CEO, Deanna Dunne, took some time to talk to Good Looks Collective about her personal experience with this terrible epidemic and how Beyond Dope plans to help all those who have been affected by it.
GLC: Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for starting Beyond Dope Productions?
Deanna: Just over two years ago, I was in the middle of teaching my 5th grade students when I got a phone call from my mom that my brother, Michael, was in a coma in the hospital. He had overdosed on a shot of heroin and cocaine that was laced with fentanyl. A few days later, he passed away leaving behind his wife and two pre-teen daughters.
Beyond Dope was born out of my passion for live music and my desire to make a difference in the world in memory of Michael.
GLC: You already have Eliminate and Jantsen on the bill – two heavy hitters in the bass scene – with more to be announced. Besides the obviously dope lineup, what else can people expect to see/do at this event?
Deanna: Beyond the music, the Beyond Dope team is working tirelessly to make sure that our cause is present throughout the event. Currently, we are seeking out related harm-reduction and advocacy organizations to have a variety of resources represented at the show. We’ve already confirmed a Dance Safe table where representatives will be available to help educate attendees on matters of substance abuse. We will certainly have some sort of memorial alter for attendees to honor loved ones who have passed away. My biggest goal is to have a qualified representative available who can distribute naloxone kits to attendees and train them on how to administer it so that they are equipped to actually save a life, should they encounter someone who is overdosing.
It’s important to me that this event is more than just a fundraiser, but that people leave having learned something new and empowered to take action in this battle.
GLC: What are your long term goals for Beyond Dope as a nonprofit organization?
Deanna: Currently, we’re focusing all of our efforts on making sure our first show exceeds all expectations. We have had talks of throwing at least one more show this fall. Eventually, we definitely plan on having regular events, whether seasonally, monthly, or even eventually maybe weekly so we can maximize our impact on the opiate crisis and contribute to an even stronger community in the bass scene than we already have.
GLC: It’s easy to feel helpless watching friends take a path that leads them to opioids. What advice can you give to people who aren’t sure what steps to take to help their loved ones?
Deanna: The toughest thing is learning how to be supportive without enabling the behavior while also making sure to take care of yourself through the emotional rollercoaster of addiction. No matter who you are or what struggles your dealing with, humans need connection and love from others and we need to feel empowered over our own lives. I always try encourage others to be supportive of their loved-ones as a non judgemental listener. Of course it’s important to also encourage that person to seek professional help but many people feel so disempowered, depressed, and helpless that they don’t even see that this is something that can work for them. Keep loving them and keep encouraging them. In the meantime, get yourself trained in naloxone administration (it’s free in NYC!) and encourage your loved one to also keep a kit with them in case of emergency and to practice other harm-reduction techniques until they do finally seek professional assistance.
This event will be monumental in changing the way our community sees and understands a crisis which has already claimed too many lives. It is shaping up to be an unforgettable night with more artists to be announced on stages curated by Dubday-NYC and More Signal, as well as a Funktion-One system that’s been heralded as the gold standard for sound. Tickets can be purchased here. RSVP here.
The Ticketing Co. has also set up an option to make additional donations in $5 increments and are generously donating all ticket fees back to the cause. Merch will be available soon for purchase on the Beyond Dope Productions Facebook page. For those who can not make it but would like to contribute, donations can be made through PayPal here. Deanna ended our chat by letting us know that “the Beyond Dope team is so appreciative of any and all support we receive, whether monetary or otherwise” and we know our bass community will show up to get down for this massive cause!