Elaine Hudson sits down with PAIN founder Flindt Andersen on the “Don’t Hide the Scars” podcast. Hudson lost her son Frankie to an opioid overdose, and shared her experience in a recent episode. Photo contributed.
Written by Breanna Hardy
A Fresno-based nonprofit has received an award for its efforts toward recovery from the opioid and Fentanyl crisis.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson awarded Parents and Addicts in Need – PAIN – with the Nonprofit of the Year award. The annual award recognizes local nonprofits that demonstrate diversity and vibrancy in each legislator’s district. It also gives legislators a way to highlight nonprofits that are overlooked.
“The Opioid and Fentanyl crisis continues to have a grip on our community,” said Assemblyman Patterson. “There are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, whose lives were cut short because of accidental overdoses. I am grateful for PAIN and their never-ending mission to spread the word to anyone who will listen.”
PAIN was founded in 2009 by Flindt Andersen, who formerly struggled with addiction. Now living over 20 years in sobriety, he is committed to helping Central Valley families on the road to recovery.
“It was all about telling the truth about the opioid epidemic, telling the truth about treatment and all that entails,” Andersen said. “Treatment is not a quick fix. Staying clean and sober takes work, it’s a family disease, and there is no cure for addiction but it is manageable if one has that desire to stay clean and sober.”
The drug crises are rampant in the Central Valley, with 17 to 30-year-olds being most frequently affected. Often young teens find drugs through apps like Snapchat or a website like Craigslist. If parents aren’t aware, the drugs can end up in their homes and at worst, take the lives of their children.
Fentanyl is especially deadly because it’s odorless and tasteless, nearly indistinguishable outside of a lab. It’s often laced in pills or found on surfaces.
“You don’t even know when you’re ingesting it,” Andersen said.
Andersen said it means a lot to receive the award. Since 2009 the nonprofit has welcomed 6,000 families through its doors.
“It’s a nice honor to have,” Andersen said. “It’s extremely well-received on our end and we appreciate all those that voted us, that honored us.”
The pandemic caused a tremendous amount of relapse for those who were new to recovery, he said.
“A lot of times when you don’t have enough recovery time under your belt, that brain of yours kind of goes back to know what you know how to do best,” Andersen said.
Stress left without coping mechanisms leads people back to old habits, he said.
Darren Redmond, executive director of PAIN, said it’s a matter of life and death to get people the help they need – especially during the pandemic when in-person contact was limited.
Redmond said that to navigate through the pandemic, PAIN started a podcast, moved meetings online, and met people in small and distant groups.
“We could not allow the very real pandemic to stop the work that we do because lives were at stake,” Redmond said. “Add to the fact that the Fentanyl crisis was becoming ever so more dangerous out there. We could not just sit by the sidelines and hope things got better.”
PAIN has received clearance to train the public on administering Narcan, which is an opioid reversal agent. Andersen said PAIN gave away 300 boxes of Narcan away at Clovis’ Big Hat Days.
“We want people to live,” Andersen said.