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LAURA GRZANKA
KNOCK OUT OPIOID ABUSE CONTEST finalist

What do you hope to accomplish by being a part of this contest?

Music has been a huge part of my life, I have had many great experiences through music, and made good friends that support me.  Singing and playing music in church has also been a part of my musical journey, and I believe that it is a way that I can give back to the community. If I can help or inspire someone through music, a song, or my performance, that to me is what it’s all about.   I really admire this contest and its purpose to bring awareness to this critical topic of Opioid Abuse.  I want to support this effort and hope that through this platform we can make a difference and save lives.

 

People still seem to hold on to the stereotype that an addict is someone poor and wasting away in life, only thinking about another fix. How is that different than your experience? Whether it’s opioids, alcohol or other addictions, I have seen people from all walks of life affected, younger and older, richer and poorer.  Some are able to hide it well for a very long time.  Some can’t and either go into recovery, or struggle their whole lives.   I know people affected that you would not be surprised to learn they have an addiction, and others you would have never suspected.  They are parents, the soccer moms and dads, and people with “good” jobs and that live in “nice” homes and neighborhoods.  I’ve seen that more affluent adults and kids/teens are not protected from addiction, and that they suffer from stresses and issues just like everyone else.  

 

Do you think there is such a thing as recreational opioid use? Why or Why Not?

I’m far from an expert on this issue, but I would doubt it.  I think there’s a fine line between recreational and dependence, and each person has their tolerance level.   Before you realize what is going on, it can already be too late and you’ve crossed that line.   I just heard about the event in Connecticut where over 70 people overdosed in one day – that’s really scary and shows why you need to be so vigilant – you just don’t know how you will be affected. That’s why education and eliminating stigma is so important.  We have to be able to talk about these things.

 


What advice would you give your teenage self?

Great question - where do I start?  There are SO many things!!  I would tell my teenage self to be patient and to understand that it’s OK for everything not to be fully figured out and resolved.  Things that are meant to happen will happen on their own time and not necessarily yours.  You don’t have to know it all and be perfect.  We put so much stress on ourselves and we don’t have to. I would tell “teenage Laura” that it’s OK to let people know you don’t know the answer to something and they won’t think less of you if you ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and make suggestions – it’s OK to be wrong sometimes. We are our own worse critics – people are generally think much more highly of you than you think.   And possibly most importantly - Don’t be afraid to take a chance on something – you will not get it perfect first time and that’s OK – just keep at it and keep open to any opportunity to keep doing it and you’ll get better.   Even though I’m no longer a teenager I need to remind myself of these things pretty much daily. 

What does music mean to you?

Music has been a huge part of my life, and looking back, I have been happiest when I was involved in music, especially with other people.  It didn’t matter what type of music, I like pretty much everything from rock, folk, and blues to classical.  The periods when I was not involved in music, I felt that something was missing.   In my experience, the music community has been very supportive and welcoming.  There is literally something going every day of the week, and many groups to get involved with.  Some people perform while others enjoy listening or getting involved behind the scenes.  I’ve made many amazing friendships through music with a lot of really caring people.   Music, and the people I’ve met through music have helped me grow not only musically, but in other areas of life as well.   

 

Thank you for this opportunity to make a difference!

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