Drug abuse is on the rise and is having devastating effects across the nation. This is evident in the rising number of overdose fatalities, the increasing number or recreational drug users, and the rise in narcotic prescriptions over the last twenty years. More than 70,000 Americans died of overdose in 2018, to put that in perspective that is a higher death toll than the number of American casualties during the entire Vietnam War. The cost of the country’s opioid crisis is estimated to have exceeded $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017, and is projected to cost an additional $500 billion by 2020. To date, there are more than 23.5 million Americans, 10% of the population, addicted to alcohol or drugs. In fact situation has gotten so out of hand that the President instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October 2017.
What is OD Movement? O.D. started in January 2018 with two cousins bouncing ideas off one another. Neither of them felt particularly fulfilled in their line of work and they hoped the pursuit of something a little more entrepreneurial might spark a change. During this time one cousin was working at a retail clothing store. He’d become particularly attached to an environmentally conscious brand. The brand had a simple premise, plant ten trees for each article of clothing sold. One of the cool features of this brand was the interactiveness of their experience. Each shirt came with a QR code to punch into the brands website. This shows you where exactly the trees your purchase contributed were planted.
Coincidentally, this cousin (me) had a nasty history of addiction and drug abuse. At this point the wheels begun to turn as to how we might be able to replicate the trend in social initiative brands to combat America’s current drug crisis. Therefore, the OD Movement got its start as an idea for an apparel brand, OD Apparel.
Keeping with the spirit of interaction we had the idea to have each shirt tell the story of someone impacted by addiction. The people impacted by addiction would inspire our pieces; and we’d collaborate with addicts, their loved ones, and local artists to create our designs. Not only would you get the shirt with their artwork, you’d also unlock their story told on our website. Using our site as a tool to share the stories of those affected was the highest importance.
Putting the Vision in Motion
Since we had no idea what we were doing we did what anyone would do and turned to Google for answers. The first steps in launching any business are doing research and creating a plan. So that’s exactly where we started. I extensively researched apparel brands build around giveback initiatives namely Toms, Tentree, Bombas, and Warby Parker. Our idea started to seemed as to have a market during this research phase.
I dreamt of applying this concept to addiction awareness and drug abuse. Toms provides shoes, Bombas give socks to the homeless, and I want to figure out how to use apparel as a vehicle for social change around drug abuse. We wanted 10% of our profits to provide Narcan. The idea was to have OD interwoven in the fabric of the community we serve.
Over the first year put on and attended various events at Michigan State University and Saginaw Valley State University including welcome weekend at both universities and attending MSU Collegiate Recovery Communities screening of “The Long Way Back” the story of Todd Z Man Zalkins among others.
We’ve consistently produced content, podcasts and blogs, over the year as well as contributed to other nonprofit organizations like Families Against Narcotics. Our first line, The Four Pillars to Balance, launched on National Overdose Awareness Day. This release broke the mold of our original plan for the artwork, rather than each piece telling an individual’s story the pillars represent the four most important pieces to successfully beating addiction in my experience. A local artist graciously donated the artwork.
The OD Movement Today
It’s tough to say what OD is exactly. It started as an idea for an apparel brand, and it may very well expand into one in the future, but it’s so much more than that. Looking back we did almost everything wrong over year one, and yet things have never been better. Product sold quite well, but a lot more goes into building an apparel brand than any of our contributors expected.
OD is part blog, looking to produce new content related to addiction and my experiences. It’s part podcast, with the purpose of providing a platform to share the stories of those impacted by substance abuse. It is also part support group, as OD is always here to listen when someone needs to talk.
We figured calling it a movement made the most sense based on what we hope to see this become. I found my purpose in the form of combatting my greatest demon. In sharing the stories of others who deal with substance abuse whether it be drugs or alcohol. I appreciate each and every one of you who have taken the time to visit this site, to share our stories, and to contribute to an Open Discussion.