Can You Pass me the Ketamine? – Drugs Over Dinner
Can You Pass The Ketamine?
Michael Hebb charts the development of his ‘dinner’ initiative and outlines the thinking behind the idea and the simplicity of its goals….
On August 24th, 2013 a little project called Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death launched a website: www.deathoverdinner.org. There were no press releases, no staff, and a projected annual budget of $0. Over 400 dinners occurred around the globe on the first night; Ram Dass and Frank Ostaseski broke bread in Maui, Japan’s Minister of Health gathered a group of 22 leaders in Tokyo, and a nursing home in Bellingham, Washington filled a long table with residents and their children. The media quickly took an avid interest in this leaderless movement and soon features began appearing on the front page of Bloomberg, The Atlantic and Huffington Post. Within months, the coverage grew to include NPR, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, and dozens of regional newspapers across America.
The goal of this strangely named project remains simple: change the national conversation about death and dying. If the conversation can change, so can the ghastly reality of how we die in America. 70% of Americans want to die at home, yet only 30% of them have this wish fulfilled. The costs to the system and the emotional weight of this disconnect are tragic. For a country that prides itself on choice, America is failing. Since that lovely summer evening, over 100,000 folks have participated in death dinners by utilizing the online tool kit that deathoverdinner.org offers, the little website that could is just beginning to catch stride.
Not long after deathoverdinner.org sprung to life, the core team that designed and built the project began hunting for a second topic/crisis to tackle. The search was short and led to Jamison Monroe, the founder of Newport Academy, a holistic teen rehabilitation center with locations in California and Connecticut. Jamison shared a staggering statistic with our team: of the 23 million Americans who suffer from addiction, only 10% receive treatment. We were all astounded. How could a public health crisis like addiction be so poorly managed? After our first test “drug dinner” with esteemed folks like Dr. Gabor Mate, Dr. Carl Hart and Ethan Nadelmann, we began to understand. The issue is one of public perception – specifically, how we perceive addicts. If we continue to dismiss addicts as failed humans or people with weak wills, instead of individuals with a treatable medical condition, the tragic gap between suffering and treatment will remain.
While the paint was still fresh on our first platform, we began building Drusoverdinner.org, and it launches on April 21, 2015. Our hope is to once again change a national conversation by creating a deeply local conversation. If post-drug-war America is going to pick itself up from the battlefield, we need citizen led efforts and a medic kit full of beautiful new tools. People need to be inspired, emotionally compelled, and heard. Our grand hope is that Drugsoverdinner.org will create a million compassionate conversations between family and friends. Can dinner conversation help change the public health crisis known as addiction? If one family is transformed by our platform, our reward will have been achieved.