Moms Unite Against the Drug War

By Chrisanne Grise 11/21/12

A group of moms hope to raise awareness this Thanksgiving by photographing the impact of the drug war on their families.

An empty seat at the table. Photo via

This Thanksgiving, a group called Moms United to End the War on Drugs hopes to raise awareness by getting families impacted by drugs to take a snapshot of an empty seat at the table. These photos are meant to symbolize any family members missing because of a connection to drugs—whether they are suffering from an addiction, locked up in prison or living on the streets. "My son was born in 1971, the same year that President Nixon declared war on drugs," says Gretchen Burns Bergman, executive director and co-founder of Moms United To End The War on Drugs and A New PATH. "And since that time it's been really devastating, not just to families but to our whole community in terms of loss of life, loss of liberty, we're stigmatizing and criminalizing people who use drugs or have addictive illness like my sons do." Her two sons have both struggled with drugs and subsequent stigmas within the family, and now she hopes this campaign can help improve the situation. “One in four families are dealing with addictive illness and now that means so many more are also dealing with the criminal justice system,” Bergman says. “But because it’s so highly stigmatized, they’re not speaking about it. So we’re inviting them to speak out. Because I think mothers together…are able to change laws and policies for the sake and the health and wellbeing of their families.” The group invites anyone whose families have been impacted by addiction to take their own atypical holiday photo and send it in.

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices,,, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.