Welcome to ProjectJosh.org


Project J.O.S.H. (Journeying Onward Substance-Abuse Help) was founded on a set of guiding principles: to educate, serve, and provide resources to teens and families affected by addiction.  In order to accomplish this goal, we require the help of building a community base that shares our vision, and for this reason, we look forward to your participation on this site and with our organization.

If you would like to help support us in our cause, please consider making a donation through PayPal.

Site News

Founder Featured in Yet Another OCRegister Article

Apr 2017
We are proud to announce that our Founder, Elaine Werner-Hudson, was featured in yet another new Orange County Register article last week.

The article was published March 30th, 2017 and can be accessed online using the following link:


Additionally, Ms. Werner-Hudson has been recognized by her peers and clients for her work at College Hospital, Costa Mesa, CA and been awarded both Employee of the Month, and later Employee of the Year.

Finally, Ms. Werner-Hudson has also been busy for the past several years as she works diligently on the formation of her own counseling business. Although it is too early to announce anything in a formal capacity, please stay tuned and we'll report on these details at a later date.

Site Maintenance

Feb 2017
Hello all visitors,

We'll be taking down the site temporarily this afternoon to perform some server maintenance. We'll plan on being back up later this evening. We apologize for the lack of advanced notice and appreciate your patience and understanding.


Update: As pf 12:30MST, we're back up and running.

Site Overhaul and Server Upgrade

Apr 2016
Update: site migration is complete as of Apr 21 2016 @ 3:30PM MST.

ProjectJOSH.org will incur some downtime next week, starting Tuesday, to perform a server overhaul. We will be upgrading both the storage medium and the RAM. The hard disk is being replaced with a more robust RAID 1 configuration using two high-performance SSDs, in addition to increasing the memory of the box to 16 GB. These are dedicated resources to the handful of sites hosted on our platform. Once this maintenance upgrade is performed, the performance and reliability should be rock-solid.

Barring we don't encounter any majors issues, we expect the server to be offline for the minimum of a day, possibly incurring 3-5 days of downtime starting next Tuesday. Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to minimize the length of the downtime and in all likelihood, we'll be back online sooner, rather than later.

Alongside the hardware upgrades, over the course of the next year, ProjectJOSH.org will be undergoing a complete revision to its codebase. We project the site revision project to take several months, perhaps to the order of the better part of a year to complete. Given that this a time-consuming task, the current site will remain online with only minimal updates. Once the back-end has reached a certain level of maturity, these changes will be pushed to the production environment for final testing. These revisions will further increase user-friendliness, and further enhance site security and performance. We are confident that the embodiment of the final product will be more idyllic of our initial goals we set aside for ProjectJOSH, so please stay tuned for updates.

We value your feedback. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please utilize the "Resources > Contact Us" to drop us a line.

Again, thanks for your continued support. We look forward to a bright future ahead for ProjectJOSH and many more and exciting developments to come!

~ProjectJOSH.org Staff

Founder Featured in Orange County Register Article

Nov 2015
Our founder and director, Elaine Werner-Hudson was recently featured in another OC Register article. The article outlines the transformative lives many courageous parents have taken, following the unfortunate loss of their children to drug-overdoses.

"Denise Cullen’s journey from mother, to burying her only child before his 28th birthday, to activist is one that too many parents have had to take during the worst drug epidemic in this nation’s history.

Most parents who lose a child collapse under the weight of trying to stem the tide of prescription opioids. But even after five years of battling what the Centers for Disease Control calls an ever-more deadly killer, Cullen and several other mothers and fathers in Orange County haven’t given up – and now they are making dents in the epidemic.
Next week, Cullen will fly to Washington, D.C., for a conference with the federal drug czar at the White House.

Elaine Werner-Hudson, whose son, Josh, would be 36 had he survived, left for Italy last week to study what that country says is a successful method to reduce drug addiction.
Nearly every day, Jodi Barber, whose son would be 25, counsels parents and their children how to fight becoming a statistic. Only a few days ago, she helped persuade a teenager to go into long-term rehab.

It is a cliche that even if each activist helps save only one child, their efforts are worth it. But for each of these parents, that cliche is a daily truism.

On average, according to my recent review of coroner records, someone dies every other day in Orange County from an accidental overdose of prescription opioids.

Additionally, heroin addiction – linked to prescription drug addiction – is skyrocketing and finding its way into affluent homes. One woman last year who died from the highly addictive illegal drug was 64 years old. Another woman was 38.

Coroner records show that on average, nearly six Orange County residents a month die with heroin in their bodies.

It is November five years ago. I sit with Cullen and her husband, Gary, a businessman. The view from their Cowan Heights home speaks to hard work and success. But the photos on display are sobering.

Their son, Jeff, a snowboarder, BMX rider, body surfer, smiles, his 6-foot-3 lean body seemingly ready to take on whatever the world dishes out. But by his 27th birthday, Jeff was a shell.

After a series of stints in rehab and minor run-ins with the law, Jeff’s body was found next to an apartment building. He died from a mix of Xanax and morphine.
Cullen, a USC graduate and clinical social worker, tells me she plans to launch a nonprofit called Broken No More. She promises to work to “end the shame of addiction, encourage medical research and increase accessibility to rehabilitation.”

Flash forward five years. Today, Cullen is executive director of Broken No More. She receives no salary, nor does her husband, who serves as vice president of development. Today, the organization reports 105 chapters in the U.S. and Canada.

Cullen’s accomplishments include helping lead a successful effort in California to allow pharmacists to distribute naloxone, a drug which can reverse overdoses. Currently, she is supporting needle exchange in Orange County, a program still in its embryonic stage that is expected to help guide addicts to rehab.

Now 62, Cullen says her son would be 34 had he lived. She acknowledges that loss and hope fuels her just as it fuels other parents. But grief can work in conflicting ways.
“The process of losing a child drives many of us to want to do something,” she explains. “On the other hand, there’s a lot of blame and shame and anger.”

Broken No More tackles exactly those kinds of feelings, battles the stigma of overdose, and injects reality into the war. Cullen’s website states: “In the days of ‘just say no’ and Red Ribbon Weeks, we are denying the reality of what it is to be a teenager.”

The day before she leaves for Italy, Werner-Hudson shares that her son, Josh, died nine years ago of an opioid prescription overdose and would be 36 today.

“Every single day he is the first thing I think of and the last thing I think of before I go to bed,” Werner-Hudson confides. “The feelings change, it becomes different. But you don’t miss them any less. The longing just gets harder and harder.”

It may seem like a startling admission. But Werner-Hudson is used to being boldly honest. Four years ago with Margie Fleitman, she founded S.O.L.A.C.E – Surviving Our Loss with Awareness, Compassion and Empathy – a weekly support group for addicts as well as friends and families of addicts.

Today, S.O.L.A.C.E offers weekly meetings at the Norman Murray Center in Mission Viejo, is sponsored by Orange County Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board and partners with drug court, which has some addicts attend meetings.

“They never saw what it did to their family,” Werner-Hudson says, “and they cry.”
For the past two years, Werner-Hudson has worked as a counselor at College Hospital in Costa Mesa. Echoing the Centers of Disease Control, she reports the numbers of addicts is increasing, especially middle-age women.

“There’s a lot of heroin,” she reports. “A great deal of them started out on prescriptions and will do heroin and oxycodone. It’s heartbreaking.”

Of her mission in Italy, Werner-Hudson explains, “We have to try something different.”

Five years ago, Barber’s 19-year-old son, Jarrod, died from a mix of Opana, an opioid, and anti-anxiety medication. She tells me had her boy lived, he would be 25.

“His brother just celebrated his 21st birthday without his best friend and brother,” Barber says, her voice growing soft. “For the rest of their lives, this is what (siblings) deal with.
“As a mom, there’s no words to describe it because our kids are supposed to go before us.”

Still, Barber fought back by co-producing a documentary on local drug addiction called “Overtaken.” During the summer, she finished a second film, “Overtaken 2, Where Are They Now.” She also blogs and tweets about the prescription drug epidemic, gives talks and offers advice to addicts as well as their relatives.

Two weeks ago, she appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” to discuss the guilty verdict against Dr. Lisa Tsang, who was blamed for the deaths of several Orange County men. But the judgment, believed to be the first in the nation against a doctor for recklessly prescribing drugs, doesn’t make it any easier to watch the rising tide of opioid deaths.

“I get calls all the time. It’s gotten worse,” Barber reports. “It’s horrific for me. I feel like it’s a losing battle.”

In some respects, she’s right. Four years ago, 155 Orange County residents died of accidental prescription drug overdoses. Last year, according to my recent review of coroner reports, that figure soared to 175.

Yet every once in a while, even a simple phone call makes the struggle worthwhile. Barber offers, “I got two messages from kids yesterday who said I saved their lives.”
It’s dents made by hometown heroes in the opioid epidemic battle that will win the war – someday."

(source: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/drug-692183-years-cullen.html)

Ms. Werner-Hudson's recent visit to Italy has provided the foundation necessary to take ProjectJOSH to the next level. Stay tuned for details regarding many exciting developments!

Server Switch

Jan 2015
If you are seeing this message, you are viewing ProjectJOSH from its new hosting environment. We apologize for any downtime incurred to our visitors. This was a necessary change to help ProjectJOSH decrease its overall hosting costs due to lack of funding.

As we have mentioned in previous announcements, it is ProjectJOSH's goal and mission to educate and serve afflicted individuals and their families in need. Due to lack of funding, although we may be less able to serve and counsel, or scholarship - we are pushing the education portion going forward; naturally, this begins by adding additional features to the website. We are/have been in the process of building up a drug database and downloadable datasheets. Each of these sheets will contain some subjective, but mostly objective authoritative data on each substance. For example: name, synonyms, origin, inventor/discovery, previous medical uses, history of drug policy, graphs with prevalence year-by-year (sourced from DEA), as well as original (non-stock) photographs of these substances with the help of local governing agencies.

As always, the functionality to communicate and become involved with the site has always been present. We highly encourage you to get involved, whether you need help, or are interested in helping others.

Thanks for your continued interest and support and we look forward to seeing the site progress forward.

July 4th

Jul 2014

Around this time of year, I cannot help but think of my Brother and his spirit actively roaming through Boulder, Gunbarrel and its streets. You see, my Brother enjoyed his 1991 Mazda MX-5 Miata, and his other 1993 Mazda MX-5 LE. It was a time where my Brother would look healthy and cherry-red from the sun and the hair whipped around his head; spending the entire day just driving around. Sure, some of it was for work, but my Brother just enjoyed driving a way of processing his demons and worries away.

My Brother was also fond of the hot summer days, and rainy and cooler nights. That is the way Boulder has been for the past 2-3 months without exception. A perfect environment, the kind of environment where he thrived, especially with regard to those late-night drives, and late night's in general.

This brings us to July 4th. Thinking not too much about it, I jumped in my car and went grocery shopping. I felt a little bothered, a little tired, but I couldn't put my finger on a single source. Of course, just turning 29, my age came to mind; I suppose also the prospects of having to face certain demons by going back to live at my childhood home in Louisville. I was listening to 93.3 KTCL because my cassette tape converter just broke weeks prior. Although I like what KTCL plays, the songs begin to grow old for me pretty fast, especially when they play the same song 3 times within 7-8 hours. In any case, I heard a very strange oddity: Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode. As far as I'm aware, this is the first time this station has played such a song and trust me, I listen to 93.3. Now what's interesting is this plays on July 4th, a time when my Brother always looked his best and seemed happy because of the fact he lived in beautiful Boulder, Colorado and could never overdo it when it came to soaking up the sun. His face got so red sometimes that one of his old friends referred to him as "Strawberry" because of his remaining freckles, red face, and spiked hair. Betrayal aside, she was right about the way he looked. I think one of the major demons for my Brother is he knew how to love unconditionally, even when that other person would continually fight to push you away. Not because they weren't interested, or didn't love you, but rather because whenever it was convenient for them, emotionally. I similarly felt this rejection and I have to tell you it hurt. However, I developed different coping strategies thanks to my Brother.

In any case, I felt like it was worth mentioning just given the fact that Josh is very much still here with us, during the difficult times. I miss him everyday and I wish things didn't have to be the way that they are. I often times wonder the family crisis started with my own health issues, if I didn't die right there only to wake up in a parallel dimension. I can, however, thank God that aside from all of the loss I have a wonderful mother who has always been there for me. I have a couple solid friends, by my side. And that God did not forsake me when it came to my prayer about surviving cancer and having the chance to love someone. Although what I brought forth was pure and unconditional, ultimately it didn't work out. Disappointment aside, however, that's okay because God was good to his promise it was an experience that helped me pursue school again and believe in myself. I often times feel alone and life feels seemingly out of control, but I continue to pray. It reminds me the time I told my Mom that the trauma we've experienced makes us nothing but dry addicts, we have lost our loved ones and it makes us crazy.

It Never Gets Easier

Mar 2014
Here at ProjectJOSH, as each year goes by, the pain never gets easier. Yesterday evening will have marked the seven year anniversary of Josh's passing. Although we feel the tremendous grief of the loss, we cannot discount what we've accomplished since his passing, for instance:

Ms. Werner-Hudson, our executive director is close to receiving her Associates of Science and has already received her CADC-I and CATC-I certifications. She plans on continuing to meet with families, but is excited to offer her services to families, independently in the future.

Mr. Werner, has graduated from the University of Colorado of Boulder with his Bachelors of Arts in Integrative Physiology. As a recent graduate, he is involved with addiction research over at the Institute of Behavioral Genetics on east campus and works the rest of the week at a local ISP in the technical support department (ironically an ISP that Josh used years back). The future is looking bright.

Although we are often overwhelmed by the circumstances, we can't help but realize the fact we've grown out of this loss and channeled the negative aspects of this loss into positive futures. Here is to you, Josh: thank you for inspiring us to continue onward for you, we emulate who you are - in the true spirit of who you continue to be and the reaching hand you extend to try to help others - even amidst your pain and despair:

A Post Josh Made on Jan 12, 2006 to a User on an Online Support Community

Hello, I saw your post and just wanted to share my personal experience with opiate addiction with you, and offer my help.

The first time I tried opiates was about 5 months before my 19th birthday. Before them I had pretty severe panic attacks for several years and had difficulty sleeping. I had previously been prescribed Klonopin for anxiety and sleep, but the insurance from my father expired, and I ran out. I did not have the $220 an hour that my psych charged, and I really did not like taking them anyway, except to sleep. I was not ever really in to taking any kind of drug, my teenage years were troubled and I experimented with drugs, but it was short lived. Other then the Klonopin I took to help with panic attacks and sleep, I had not had a drug (even Advil, lol) in years.

After about a week of running out I got tired of not being able to sleep, and I had quite a few Percocet on hand. At the time I had a small convertable, and would love driving around at night with some good music to help me relax before bed. I ended up taking one before my drive, figuring it would be very mild like the klonopin, and just make me feel a little "naturally" tired. It was the late spring, and it had rained a few hours earlier. In CO, where I lived, it is always amazing after a hard rain storm, the air smells amazing, and by itself is very relaxing and comforting. I still remember how great I felt that night. I ended up just driving around a residential neiborhood I lived in when I was younger, that has a large lake and lots of fields and trees. I don't think that I have ever felt quite the same as I did that night. Everything was perfect, I felt free, happy, warm, and very content. I was always very anxious, and that was probably the first time in my life that I was free from any worry.

In retrospect, that incident is what started my love of opiates. Over the next several months I would take Percocet to sleep, and two or three times I took them during the day, but it really was not an addiction yet. I would go for a week or two without taking any of them, and I barely gave them a thought except when I wanted to relax.

After I started to run low I barely ever took them, just once in a great while, but I didn't care that I was almost out, they were nice while they lasted. I didn't use any opiate for about 5 years after that, although I did keep one of the Percocets the entire time in case I needed it.

A little over 5 years later I had a really bad fall while carrying a very heavy computer and hurt my back. I was precribed Vicodin and I took them for the pain. They brought back the fond memories before my injury of my first experience with opiates and helped out a lot with the pain. I have been taking opiates since my injury, and had a bad problem with them. For quite a while I took around 30 Norco a day, with my highest daily intake of 44 pills (although I was up for almost 24 hours at that point). At 30 pills a day, my tolorence was so high that they really did not do a whole lot for me. The amount of money this cost me was high, but I didn't care at the time. I always lucked out with bills and such, aside from some gadgets I took to the pawn shop (I felt ghetto), I never really lost anything tangable because of my addiction. Although, that really did not matter since I was depressed and felt trapped. I was using NROPs and such at the time, and I used to worry obsessivly and be really afraid about my medication arriving before I ran out. I still worry about that to tell you the truth. I have since gone down to a more reasonable dose, that helps with the pain but does not make me high. It was very difficult, and it took me quite a while to do, but I am much better off in a number of ways for it. I still want to take much more, but when tempted I call some friends and they help me through it.

So, that is basically my story, I told you because I thought you might be able to relate to it on some level, and know that you can be honest without being judged if you want to talk to me. As far as your situation... Like some of the other members said, if you think you might have a problem with them, then the chances are you probably do. Please know that if you do it doesn't make you less of a person, and that it does happen to a lot of great people. If you are taking them and do not have a medical condition, then you certainly abusing them. Unlike a lot of other board members I don't really frown on it, I agree with them that it could overall hurt the OCS industry, but what someone decides is their own choice. 6 or 7 a few times a day is certainly a high dose for a lot of people, but with a good tolerence does not do much at times. In any case, you decision to switch to Norco is a good one, since less APAP is always a good thing. I am personally afraid of what I might have done to my liver. Although I am a bit skeptical as I have heard many members say that they take over 10G of Tylenol a day, and I have yet to hear of someone on the board suffering liver problems. I hope that is not because they are not around to come to a computer anymore!! j/k .

On a serious note, the way that I was able to cut down so much was alcoholics anonymous. I was very skeptical, I didn't think I would fit in, I had heard that it was "faith based" and I am not a religous person, and I have never really been a drinker. But I was desperate, and and finally gave it a try. I was very nervous before I went to the meeting, I thought that I would have to talk, and I did not want to. I was really surprised, everyone was just genuinely kind, and I could really relate to what everyone talked about in the meeting. I went to some more meetings, and I made some great friends. I also saw quite a few people that I had known previously, I had no idea they were in AA. It worked for me, it didn't happen overnight, but over time and with the help of others I was able to get better. That is what worked for me.

Something that I have heard works from many people is to have a trusted friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, ect.. Hold your medication, and just give you a certain amount, and NOT budge no matter what you say. This allows you to taper down until you can stop, or reduce your dose enough.

Another thing that several people have done, and two good friends of mine have done is get Suboxone. It takes away the W/Ds, and cravings. The website www.suboxone.com has a physician locator that has a list of Dr.s in your area that prescribe it. I have heard that some Dr.s are VERY expensive, but many do not charge very much. If I ever was going to totally quit Hydro this is probably what I would do to get off of it. I have also heard that getting off the Suboxone is easy. If you do a search there are several threads on Suboxone, with a lot of good info, and mostly great reviews.

In any case I would recommend some kind of emotional support if you end up stop taking Hydro. As far as support, a 12-step program almost can't be beat. But if you are not interested in that, having a couple of people you are close to and know of your problem is really important. These people should be available to be called or visited 24-hours a day, although most good friends always are .

Lastly, I would like to say that addiction is a biological problem. Certain people can take opiates and never really get addicted. They can become dependent on the medication and experience W/Ds, but not really care about the high. If addiction runs in you family at all; alcohol, any drug (including pot), even with just one family member, there is the first "marker" that you could be an addict. If you think that you might be addicted, please know that it is not really your fault that you are, although it is your responsibility to seek help and find a way to try and stop. So try not to feel down on yourself if you have a problem with these pills. I can tell by your posts that you are an intelligent and nice person. My best friends have had problems with substances, and they are intelligent, insightful, would give me anything, and do anything for me.

I wish you the best no matter what you decide or do. I would like to talk to you more, and hope that I can help you in some way. Please feel free to PM me or call me, even if you don't want to stop or not ready to. As I said earlier, I'm not here to judge you or tell you what to do, just to help if I can. I have free long-distance, so if you call me, I can call you right back so it is free to talk. Just so you know, my phone message is a business message, but it is my personal cell phone that I also use during the day for a small consulting business that I run. You can call me anytime day or night. Also, if you don't want to talk on the phone, PM me. It might take me a day or two to get back with you that way, but I will make sure to check them regularly. My best wishes are with you, and I hope that you will contact me . Take Care!


DEA Reschedules Hydrocodone to Schedule II, OC Register Columnist David Whiting Inquires for Feedback on the Issue from Our Founder

Oct 2013
Published: Oct. 25, 2013 Updated: Oct. 26, 2013 10:49 p.m.

Whiting: FDA Finally Starts to Tackle Opioid Epidemic


With the prescription drug epidemic killing, on average, someone every other day in Orange County, the Food and Drug Administration this week finally took its first significant step to slow the death rate.

It may not seem like much, but the FDA’s move to clamp down on relatively easy access to hydrocodone indicates a long-awaited paradigm shift.

Still, for 44 people in Orange County – according to my review of coroner records – the FDA’s move is too little too late. Each one accidently overdosed last year of hydrocodone-related causes.

Consider that the Drug Enforcement Administration itself recommended such a move by the FDA four years ago. Since the DEA asked to make it more difficult to get hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin, more than 100,000 people have died from prescription opioids.

James Kennedy is the father of a young man named Joey whose life and death I profiled last year. After learning of the FDA’s move, Kennedy told me: Joey’s “introduction to prescription pain medication started with Vicodin and that quickly led him to stronger and more lethal pharmaceutical opioids.

“I am happy to see the FDA is finally doing something about the overprescribing of Vicodin and its generic counterparts, but that is not enough.”

Kennedy, of San Clemente, pointed to the staggering amounts of opioids manufactured legally in the U.S. He said flooding the market with such drugs “has created a significant increase in addiction to pain medication, which will unfortunately continue forward until all opioids are very tightly controlled.”

Still, the FDA’s move to curtail an epidemic that kills more people than car crashes is a start.

Consider that last month the agency was all proud that it required changing labels on opioids.

• • •

Earlier this week, Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, noted the move to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II drug came after considerable work. She wasn’t kidding.

Woodcock said the FDA’s decision followed "extensive scientific literature, review of hundreds of public comments on the issue, and several public meetings, during which we received input from a wide range of stakeholders, including patients, health care providers, outside experts, and other government entities.”

Sure, we want the FDA to carefully evaluate drugs. But given the delay, the number of deaths and the clout of what critics call Big Pharma, the question rises who the FDA really works for.

I started writing about the opioid epidemic three years ago when it was mostly affecting teens and young adults along our golden coast and in South County. At that time, so-called “pharm parties” with young people snorting crushed pills stolen from parents’ medicine cabinets were all the rage.

They still are.

Like the DEA, I called for tighter drug controls. It doesn’t take a medical degree to figure out the way to slow drug flow is to tighten the faucet.

Yet, as the epidemic spread, the FDA had meetings. Earlier this year, I examined 2012 county coroner reports and found a 25 percent spike from the year before in women dying.

What was equally disturbing was that the epidemic also was spreading to other age groups. Of women ages 40 and over, the number of opioid deaths jumped from 35 to 49, a 40 percent increase.

I call that an outrage.

The FDA uses different words. In announcing the reclassification of hydrocodone, the agency said it has “become increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse of opioid products.”
• • •

Reviewing coroner records, I also found that, on average, a young person in Orange County dies every other week.

Additionally, the Orange County Coroner office announced several months ago that from 1999 to 2012, local residents dying solely from prescription drugs increased 114 percent.

But if you’re a parent, the biggest number is one.

Elaine Werner-Hudson lives in South County and lost her son, Josh, to prescription opioids. After the FDA’s announcement, I contacted Werner-Hudson and learned something I didn’t know.

Josh’s addiction started at the age of 24 with, yes, hydrocodone. Three years later, Josh was dead.

In his journal, Josh shared his first hydrocodone experience. Explaining the initial high, in context, is revealing.

“It was a wonderful warm night,” Josh wrote. “It just had rained earlier and it smelled wonderful. I took two of these pills before I left, and I am filled with positive emotion. I feel better than I ever have.”

Looking back, Josh continues, “Nothing could have harmed me that night. I was in love.” Then things get dark. “I found that nothing in life is as good when I didn't have my pills.

“So even though I had everything, I started the long painful process of letting it all go without the knowledge I was doing so."

Josh lost everything.
• • •

Werner-Hudson, founder of an addiction and survivor’s addiction help group called Solace, echoes dozens of Orange County parents I’ve talked to about the epidemic.

“Drug companies have downplayed and profited from the addiction potential of these drugs,” Werner-Hudson said. “For years their studies reported minimal risk of addiction and dependence. With all of the opioid related deaths in past years in Orange County and around the U.S. I find this incomprehensible.

“The FDA is responsible for regulating and overseeing these profit-making companies, but didn't intervene until now.”

Still, Werner-Hudson finds hope with the FDA’s most recent move. “The significance of making the drug harder to obtain will save many lives.”

Some pain medication experts, however, are less sure.
• • •

Dr. Robert Kutzner is a pain specialist with offices in Costa Mesa and Fountain Valley. Instead of pointing fingers at the FDA, Kutzner is frustrated with the state of California for failing to enforce regulations already in place.

Kutzner offers that state-mandated guidelines for prescribing pain medication in workers’ compensation cases would go a long way in resolving the epidemic – if the guidelines weren’t ignored and virtually unknown.

The doctor’s right. In a column a month ago, I reported that even the physician in charge of the program, worker's comp Executive Medical Director Dr. Rupali Das, admitted doctor education was needed.

Called the “Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule,” the book-length document includes dozens of pages outlining detailed procedures for opioid treatment. Significantly, it also includes a host of non-opioid procedures such as therapy.

“We don't need more government,” Kutzner maintains. “We need more compliance with the guidelines that already exist.

“Remember that the drugs that are on the (FDA) schedule list are there because they are addictive, abused.”

Dave Macleod of Huntington Beach understands Kutzner’s point too well. He lost his 18-year-old son, Tyler, last year.

Of the FDA, Macleod says, “It’s about time they started making it tougher for these kids to easily get these so-called pain killers. They are sold on the streets to our kids and are more readily available than any other drug.”

Until the FDA, pharmaceutical companies and doctors get serious about change, there only will be more Joeys, Joshes, Tylers.

David Whiting’s column appears four days a week; dwhiting@ocregister.com

High Honors

May 2013
We would like to congratulate our founder and director Elaine Werner-Hudson for her outstanding achievement at Saddleback College! She was recently awarded three scholarships and received the prestigious Saddleback ASG (Associated Student Government) "Student of The Year" award for all of her outstanding academic achievements and numerous pro bono involvement within the community and rehab field.

S.O.L.A.C.E. Featured in the OC Register

Mar 2013
One of ProjectJOSH's programs, S.O.L.A.C.E. was featured in an article published in the Orange County Register. Click here to view the article (mirror: http://www.projectjosh.org/media/uploads/OC_Register_SolaceOC_Article.pdf)


Nov 2012
We have launched our new support group SOLACE on November 8, 2012. It is under the umbrella of the Orange County Alcohol/ Drug Advisory Board, as a subcommittee. This has been a dream for three of us surviving mothers, (Mitchsmom, Pattysmom, and Joshsmom) realizing the myriads of feelings after losing your child to overdose. Among those feelings are shame, guilt, isolation, depression and an overall feeling of being alone. Losing someone to a drug overdose has many dynamics associated with it, not only to the user, but also to others that perceive it. This connotation can be construed as lack of parental responsibility, or love for one’s child. Perhaps this is true in some cases, however, for the rest of us we regard the love for our child as a type of love that holds a great depth that words simply cannot express. One of my greatest missions is to educate others not only with walking down the path of having a child using, but others who do not understand the complexity of this disease. Many afflicted individuals consider themselves as being “pathetic,” as Josh once described. The reality is they are overtaken by the drugs clutches, prey to its pertinacious, insidious, claws that have ripped their heart away from the ones they love most. Swallowed by its demonic, evil, lustful cravings they are not longer able to escape, their soul voraciously devoured. They want to stop using, as their torment within is greater than one can handle.

SOLACE provides a safe, compassionate place for those who have lost a child or who are struggling with a child who is using. The response has been well received within the group and by word of mouth; we have yet to publicize. We are in the process of extending it to the community through electronic emails, distribution of flyers and other media.

We are proud to provide you with the link for those of you who need a safe, nurturing, compassionate place to share your pain and victories along with your memories of your beautiful child. As we are developing many ideas to include on the website, please check back. We’ll be adding bios and pictures of our beautiful children who gave much to this world in their short existence on this planet. For those that have lost a child, or parents who are struggling with a child using, we invite you to share your own comments. There is no solo in SOLACE.

You will find a link to the support group page in the friends section within the left column, or by clicking here. For our newest flyer containing meeting information, click here.

SOLACE: A support group for families affected by addiction, or loss to overdose.

Oct 2012
SOLACE is a program founded by Margie Fleitman and Elaine Werner-Hudson; it is sponsored by the OC Drug and Alcohol Advisory (ADAB) Board. We have provided an informational flyer for those interested in helping to form this support group, or just joining us for a session. We encourage any families and/or family members to attend who are currently experiencing addiction, have lost someone to addiction, or community members who want to to attain perspective on these pertinent community issues. We look forward to hearing from you!


ADAB Opiate Community Prevention Meeting at Orange County Department of Education

Jun 2012
Orange County's ADAB (Alcohol Drug Advisory Board) will be holding a community meeting on June 5th, 2012 from 5:30-8:30pm at Orange County Department of Education (200 Kalmus Drive, Costa Mesa, CA. 92626). The community and the board will work together with other members of the community including the media to raise awareness, present facts, and voice opinions regarding the current Opiate problems facing Orange County. This informational meeting is open to the public and community participation is encouraged. Click here to view the event flyer.

Project JOSH's New Look

May 2012
The past 24 hours has been spent developing a new site design. The reason for the change is in part with the goal of striking simplicity with elegance and removing any rough edges that were present in the previous design. Don't fret, however, if you were a fan of the old design; the old design may enabled by modifying your profile setting when you are logged into your account.
Of course we are very much open to your feedback. We have incorporated a quick search to the left column that will grant you very fast access to whatever you are looking for. As of right now, I'm sure with this new design, there are some design quirks I may not be aware of so just please point them to my attention so I may get them taken care of.

What's left: the core and heart of the site - a community. The site itself is but merely a shell. It will be the people that will make this site come alive and provide a vast amount of resources. We cannot do it alone. It will require the passion, dedication and generosity of others to accomplish. It is our goal in the next year for the organization to grow into the organization we (and the community) invision: thousands of members using this site and helping coach one another, having a vast database of information (furthering our education goals), making even a bigger difference in adolescent's and their families lives, and finally receiving the attention/exposure necessary to make ProjectJOSH a gold standard in the rehab industry. We don't mean to detract from the differences we have already made in a handful of adolescent's lives as we have very much worked pro bono for the past couple years putting in our own hours. We hope as a dedication to this level of soul work others will grant us support to continue our mission through generosity, praise, and involvement. For those who already have, we sincerely thank you.
For all these reasons and more - if you haven't registered yet, please consider doing so. Check back with us once a day, once a week, or even once a month. Like all great websites and organizations they owe everything to their members, fans, and people supporting them (something many successful individuals lose sight of). It starts now with a few individuals conversing using ProjectJOSH as a medium and it can only build from there.

All the Best,
~ProjectJOSH Staff

Site Improvements Coming Soon

Apr 2012
We apologize for the site looking rough around the edges, or if you have had any issues regarding the usability or accessibility of the site; not to mention the lack of updates. On the contrary, many exciting developments are on the way.

In terms of ProjectJOSH.org, the site is built upon 100% custom content management system created by me. It has been under development for many years, and over those years it has slowly evolved. Since this first iteration of the site, I have went on to make even more improvements upon the system that I will eventually implement here on ProjectJOSH.org. Beyond the function of the site, we are looking to improve the user experience from providing more site content, to streamlining and smoothing out any rough edges of the site. So please check back in the upcoming months for these exciting changes.

In regard to the organization itself, ProjectJOSH is still very much alive. Like most organizations, we are growing out of our infantile stages, learning some valuable lessons along the way, and seeking to create further infrastructure within the organization to help it function better. Our goal has always been to run a tight ship, while fulfilling the goals set forth in our mission statement.

However, in most cases our Executive Director has had to do most of the leg work on her own. Personally, I live in another state and provide the website and promotional materials, while she provides the soul-work. Between the two of us, it just isn't enough. Like most start up organizations, our progress ebbs and flows. That's why we are looking for motivated volunteers who are interested in what ProjectJOSH offers, people whom share a similar selfless passion towards sobriety. We cannot do this on our own, we need the help of an active supportive community, donations, volunteers, and sober companions to fulfill the organization's vision and obligations.

The past year and a half have provided both of us some valuable lessons and given us a chance to grow and better understand the importance of developing a bullet-proof infrastructure.

In the coming months, there are many new and exciting prospects on the horizon. While we can't thank people enough who have contributed or support our organization, we are continually looking for talented, selfless, and self-motivated individuals to help us achieve our goals. As an organization it takes time to get there, but just in the past year and a half, we have successfully: developed and hosted our own podcasts, worked several families, sponsored treatment, and educated through public speaking engagements - among many others.

We have set high expectations for ourselves and this organization. We hope you are excited, passionate, and motivated in transforming this organization's visions into reality. With your help and generosity, it can happen.

All the Best,
The Board of ProjectJOSH

↑ Return to Top