Turning a Senseless Murder into a Life-Saving Cause
In this episode of Real Talk, KJK Student Defense Title IX Attorneys Susan Stone and Kristina Supler are joined by Dr. Beth Weinstock. She is a poet and physician, but foremost a mother of four whose eldest son Eli was murdered in March of 2021 when he unintentionally ingested fentanyl. With her daughter Oliva, they co-founded BirdieLight with a focus on educating students and their parents on the danger of fentanyl. The conversation includes how drug use extends beyond just partying, the stigma around the topic of students using drugs, and how any student can save lives.
Links Mentioned In the Show:
What are the dangers college students experience when experimenting with drugs and alcohol? (0:34) How a personal tragedy inspired the creation of the BirdieLight organization. (01:52) How BirdieLight has created enormous momentum in its mission. (03:21) What is the common misconception of fentanyl that leads to parents underestimating its accessibility? (04:27) How did fentanyl rise to become such a popular drug? (05:05) How even stress and anxiety can indirectly lead to a student’s involvement in fentanyl (06:53) What does BirdieLight do to bring young adults “closer to safe”? (09:09) How Dr. Weinstock combats the stigma when shedding light on the reality of fentanyl cases. (11:38) Is BirdieLight having an impact? (14:19) Why high schools are pushing back on BirdieLight’s message (16:48) Telling kids to, “just say no,” isn’t going to cut it (17:11) What role does the rampant mental health crisis play in the rise of drug use? (19:21) How students can protect themselves and their friends using test strips to test for fentanyl (21:53) Why carrying Narcan can save lives (23:35) The serendipitous origin of the name BirdieLight (28:47) Transcript:
Susan Stone: Welcome back to Real Talk with Susan Stone and Kristina Supler. We’re full-time moms and attorneys bringing our student defense legal practice to life with real conversations. Today’s topic is really going to be a very emotional topic today. We’re here to talk about the fentanyl problem that is really impacting the health, welfare, and lives of students across the country, students and adults.
But our practice focuses on what’s happening with all students.
Kristina Supler: Susan, over the years, in our cases, we’ve represented students across the country. And I think we regularly see that particularly college students experimenting with drugs and alcohol it goes hand in hand. And while some students, I don’t know, I guess can handle it.
I think we also see a lot of students who really struggle with the substance abuse and don’t recognize all the dangers that can go hand in hand with ingesting various substances. And I think in particular, one thing that we regularly see is sexual assault cases.
Susan Stone: Correct. We see, and we’ve talked about this on our podcast, a real uptick in mental health issues.
And I don’t want to say every case cause that’s not accurate, but I think we can fairly say that most cases that we deal with, whether it’s about sexual assault or any other form of student misconduct, somewhere in the picture is a use of, or misuse of alcohol or drugs.
Kristina Supler: We hear often from the students we work with that sometimes there’s substance use or experimentation with drugs, for numbing and students just exploring life. And that’s really what brings us to our topic and our speaker today. So Susan, why don’t you do the introduction.
Susan Stone: We’re here with Dr. Beth Weinstock who created an organization called BirdieLight to spread awareness about fentanyl use and this crisis that we have of students dying from the use of fentanyl. Dr. Weinstock, welcome to our show. Can you please just highlight what led to you creating your organization?
Dr. Weinstock: Sure. Thanks. And thank you so much for having me on your podcast today. I live in Columbus, Ohio. And I’m a mother and a physician. I have four children. My second oldest child, Eli Weinstock was a sophomore at American university.
And on March 3rd, 2021 He took or experimented with some substance a pill or a powder. We’re not sure. And he collapsed and died in his off-campus apartment in Washington DC.
Susan Stone: I’m so sorry. Really.
Dr. Weinstock: Thank you. Thank you. He was not struggling with addiction. He was, you know what? Our organization now likes to call an experimental or recreational substance user.