Cycling 1,700 miles to Stop Opioids

This August I am going to bike down the entire pacific coast of the US - from up near Vancouver down to Tijuana - I’ll bike a total of 1,700 miles.

Why am I doing this?

When I started to dig deeper to understand what was truly motivating this adventure and challenge, I found a handful of things fueling me forward:

1. I’ve always wanted to explore the pacific coast and see the landscapes firsthand.

2. I want to push myself outside my comfort zone; having grown up in the Midwest I want to be somewhere new with new people around every corner.

3. In an ever-connected world, I want to unplug for a bit to recharge my mind.

4. I wanted to do it for a greater mission, a greater cause. I found that this cause was the true fuel behind this adventure:

These mass shootings have become a huge issue in our society. From Florida to California and everywhere in between, the stories of mass shootings on the news are non-stop. But there is something missing in our media. Could this be a distraction from a larger issue that is plaguing our towns?

Roughly 33 people die everyday from a doctor-prescribed opioid overdose - that is as if the Florida Stoneman Douglas school shooting happened twice daily. Add heroin into the equation, and that number increases to 78 people every day. In the Midwest, death from opioid overdoses has increased 70% in the past year - seventy percent!! And these overdoses went up 30% in the rest of the United States.

The scariest part of this epidemic is that Big Pharma is fully aware of the addictiveness of these drugs, but that hasn’t slowed them down. In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies involved in selling and marketing opiods to doctors assured them that the medicine was not addictive. Between 1999 and 2010, the sales of prescription opioids quadrupled… and “coincidentally” so did the rate of opioid overdoses. Enough opioids were prescribed in 2010 to give a one-month supply of 5mg of hydrocodone every four hours to every adult in the United States.

After stopping the use of these prescribed drugs, patients begin to experience extreme withdrawals. This is because opioids slow the body’s ability to produce endorphins, which are the brain’s "feel good" transmitters. Similar to how a smoker feels the need for a cigarette, patients that had originally only wanted to overcome the pain of a surgery or injury were feeling the need to continue using their pain killers to fuel this addiction. These lethal addictions can happen to any socioeconomic group. Their doctors refusal to refill their prescriptions results in lack of sleep and focus, cold sweats, in addition to many other withdrawal symptoms. Then they opt to head to the streets to purchase similar drugs, such as heroin, for pennies on the dollar. These drugs lead to a new, constant chase. The patient, now considered an illicit drug user, experiences good highs and bad highs. While building a tolerance for the drug they continue to chase their good highs by taking more and more, until one day their body cannot handle it, and another life is lost.

Every life matters. Through educational prevention programs, treatment programs, and support for friends and families affected by this epidemic, we can start to see a change.

But first, it starts with us.

With this mission in mind, I am biking 1,700 miles down the pacific coast with the goal of raising $30,000 for the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization. With the help and support of people like you, the HERO Foundation is striving to create a movement that will combat the spread of heroin/opioid use across America one city at a time. Currently HERO is involved in planning several programs that will prevent heroin use, provide treatment for current users, and support the families affected by this growing epidemic.

I ask three things from you:

1. That you consider donating to the mission

2. That you’ll follow along with me on my adventure

3. That you’ll share this story and mission with family and friends

If you'd like to learn more:

H.E.R.O. Foundation:

Opioid Epidemic Statistics:

Thank you in advance for your support,

BIlly Grady


I’d like to mention an alternative to managing pain, that your doctor probably won’t recommend to you because they aren’t getting a check from pharmaceutical companies for promoting it.

According to a study done at Harvard, there has been a 42% decrease in opioid-related deaths in states where medical cannabis is legal...42%!! Medical cannabis used for chronic pain has been shown to be an extremely effective treatment and much safer than opioids. Patients suffering from pain related to the nervous system have found particularly strong improvement in symptoms, whether they smoke cannabis, eat it or use it in an oral spray. With an alarmingly high number of people dying due to an epidemic of opioid overdoses, cannabis is becoming a much more popular alternative for many who suffer from pain on a daily basis. So, next time you’re in any situation where you need to manage your pain effectively, perhaps after a painful surgery, go talk to an employee at your local dispensary about using cannabis to treat pain, and avoid even the possibility of addiction.

It will be interesting and exciting to see how the epidemic unfolds when the midwest does opt to legalize cannabis, or at the very least add pain management to the list of medical conditions that cannabis can be prescribed for. I am certain that medical cannabis can be the start to slowing down this opioid epidemic, but I’m afraid it will take a lot more than that to actually stop it. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies must get on board, and be in agreement, that opioids are being prescribed at an alarming rate, and are devastating our country!
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Billy Grady 
Winnetka, IL
Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (Hero) 
Registered nonprofit
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