My name is Brandon Arrastia, i am 24 years old born and raised in Miami Florida. Not quite the mountaineering state but since I was a child Ive had a passion for the outdoors. Whether it was open water fishing, hiking in the swamps of the everglades or skydiving, I was always out. A few years ago I took an interest in mountaineering being that it was so different than anything I ever knew. The whole expereience from being submerged in the wilderness, to the physical conditioning involved, all the way to the team work and camaraderie that is created up in the mountains seemed like everything I can ever want. So I took to it and thats where my journey began.
Fast forward to late 2017, I had just arrived from summiting Rainier via the Kautz route. At my grandfathers funeral, I sit down with my younger cousin to tell him I'm planning a winter climb on Mt. Shasta via Casaval Ridge. He gets very excited, lets me know he'd love to come along and starts joining me on weekend bike rides. A month after that he stops taking my calls, stops answering my texts and doesn't show up to ride bike anymore. Three weeks later on December 3rd 2017 my uncle finds him overdosed in his room, by this time he was gone and there was no reviving him. That sunday afternoon I received a call that shook me to my core and left my family in tears, drug addiction took Eduardo Samuel Caceres away from us.
From that moment forward, deep down inside me I knew I wanted to do something in his name that can bring a change to this drug epidemic that is destroying lives nation wide. I decided to partner up with the HERO Foundation and use each one of my climbs moving forward to raise awareness and donations for this cause. I will be blogging all of my climbs and using social media marketing to reach as many people possible. This turned from living my passion to giving my passion a purpose and making every step i take on those mountains that much more meaningful. Its not just about me reaching the summit anymore, its also about contributing to the fight against opioids so that another family doesn't get that call saying their loved one has passed because of addiction.
More than 150 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids every day.
every 8 minutes a person dies from opioid addiction.
heroin use has more than doubled amoung young adults over the past decade.
45% of heroin users where also addicted to prescription opioids.
since 2010 opioid overdose death rates have more than quadrupled.
An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
Drug overdose deaths, once rare, are now the leading cause of accidental death in the US.
I have partnered with HERO Foundation to raise awareness and donations for the opioid epidemic. The HERO Foundation is a non profit organization, all members of the board are volunteers and 100% of the money raised goes directly into the following activities:
Providing grief counseling and support services to individuals and families who have lost a loved one.
Providing family counseling and support services to individuals and families who have a loved one who has a substance use disorder.
Providing public education on opioid use.
Advocacy for public policy directed at treating this as a public health issue and reducing overdose deaths.
(Please note: 100% of the donations will be used towards the fight on the opioid crisis, all my climbing expeditions are self funded out of my own pocket.)
Click below to donate(on the donation form please leave a comment indicated you have donated through the brandon climbs website)
A Call To Action
You hear about it on the news, you read about it on Facebook, you might see it in a movie. A homeless middle aged guy tucked away in the corner of the free way surrounded by everything he owns, which usually amounts to some bags of dirty clothes and not much else. He can hardly sit up as he holds a flame to a spoon containing a white powdery substance combined with a liquid hoping it will dissolve sooner rather than later, as the urge to get this powdery substance in his blood stream is so strong his hands tremble. He finally gets to draw the now viscous liquid into the hypodermic needle and Is able to relieve the irresistible craving to feel that high once more…
For those of us who grew up in an urban area, that’s exactly what our idea of a heroin addict is portrayed to be. There is a false belief that heroin is a drug only abused by the homeless and those in the street. Parents are under the impression that as long as you keep your kids in school and they sleep in your house at night, it will mean they’ll be safe from the dangers of the harsh drugs of the world. Let me tell you how wrong you are if you believe this to be true. I was convinced my family would never be affected by the anything of the sort, only to receive a heart wrenching call one day letting me know that my younger cousin, who I grew up with like a brother was found unresponsive after an opioid overdose took his life in the very house he lived in.
Opioids are capable of taking over anyone, from any walk of life, in any social class. It doesn’t discriminate race and it sure as hell isn’t sexist, it doesn’t care how old you are or how much your family loves you. Some turn to these drugs to combat depression, others start using them recreationally because a friend turned them on to it but some are prescribed these very drugs by doctors to deal with pain. For those who are unfortunate enough to get hooked, these drugs will destroy their lives, even worse it will make life miserable for those who care about them.
This is more real than you can ever imagine and its affecting people all around you. Every day 115 people die from opioid overdoses and It has become the number one cause of accidental death in the united states. The worst part is that the pharmaceutical companies are laughing their way to the bank as they aggressively market their addictive “medications” while turning a blind eye to the worst drug crisis in American history and doing nothing about it. To make matters worst Naloxone, the drug typically used to combat overdoses has seen major price spikes in a time where we need it more than ever.
The public has to understand the severity of this situation and pay close attention to those around them. Learn about the signs that can indicate some one has been using, many of them are subtle but if you know what to look for you can certainly find them. Most families think it will never happen them until it does.
A lot of the time it starts off taking some pain killers like oxycodone or Vicodin, then these become to expensive and you turn to a street version that you have no idea what it may contain. You keep increasing the dose looking for the sensation of that first high. When pills are not enough you start seeking something more potent. You get your hands on some “heroin” (many times these street drugs contain very little of what they are actually suppose to be). You start snorting it because it’s the easiest form of ingestion but when that’s not enough you got to go to the veins. In moments of desperations you shoot up anything you can get your hands on. Then one day you think what you got from your dealer is heroin but its actually fentanyl, 100x more potent and extremely deadly. Thinking it’s the usual, you load up your typical dose. The instant rush of euphoria quickly turns into a slowing heart beat and suddenly with a moments notice, your gone forever. This isn’t the homeless guy you see in the movies tucked away on the free way. This is moms, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, business men, business women, professionals, celebrities, teens, your neighbor, it can be anyone around you….
A week before the death of my cousin we where celebrating thanksgiving together with my family and no one could have imagined what was to happen in the days to come. We had planned a family vacation in a cabin in Tennessee to take place on New Years, he never made it to the trip.
I leave you with this, keep a close eye for those you care about. You never know what others might be going through. Most of us go on with our lives with out realizing those around us begging for help. If you know someone who’s has a drug problem or even a medication problem, don’t ignore it. The rabbit hole is deep and dark and the spiral downward is a lot faster than you can imagine. The last thing you’ll ever want is that call letting you know that your loved one has passed away. These tragedies are avoidable but require immediate action, tomorrow is already too late.
My name is Brandon Arrastia and I climb mountains to raise awareness for the opioid epidemic. December 3, 2017 my cousin, lost his life and left my family in tears trying to put the pieces together of how a kid who grew up in a good, loving, close knit family turned to Opioids and ultimately ended his life in search of one more “high”.