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On Saturday, October 15, Esther’s Cajun Café & Soul Food in Houston hosted the community event “Sing Against Substance Abuse.”
The call to action was to bring awareness, and hope and invite change through testimonies in the fight against the opioid and prescription drug crisis.
Owner and head chef Esther Lewis-Bernard and her daughter, brand manager, and co-owner, Dru Evans served as hosts honoring National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.
Guest speaker Kathryn Griffin-Townsend Griñán gave a chilling tale on how she escaped unhealthy conditions such as prostitution, human trafficking, and addiction to becoming a recovery coach and helping others.
She informed the audience that on November 14, Townsend Griñán would be celebrating 20 years of sobriety and healthy living,
“Back in the day when I was an addict, I never thought someone who marched alongside these beautiful women would end up behind a trash dumpster, sleeping on the sidewalk.”
“If it wasn’t for Esther helping to raise my children, I don’t know what my family would look like today.”
Since then, the activist created a non-profit organization —We’ve Been There, Done That working with law enforcement to offer survivors struggling to escape a destructive lifestyle a chance at rehabilitation.
When Evans was asked about the importance of the event, she admitted it was a personal one for her and her family,
“This moment and this day the Houston area is greatly impacted by opioid addiction. It affects me more personally for me and my family. Two months ago, we just buried one of my siblings.”
The co-owner continued,
“My mother [Esther] has six children and I just lost my sister to this crisis. Again, it’s something that hits home and it’s something that I pray that other families can gain through our platform to be an aid and put a stop to this. I would never want a family to have to go through the things my family had to.”
In addition to their awareness efforts, Esther’s provides tools such as free resources and support through partnerships with local rehab and recovery centers.
How Opioid Addiction Has Affected Lives
According to the CDC, over 564,000 people have died from overdoses involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids between 1999-2020.
It also notes that overdose deaths have increased by 30 percent from 2019 to 2020. Opioid death rates among Black people increased by 66 percent in the Northeast region, 57 percent in the south, and 72 percent throughout the Midwest.