In early 2020, while my son Tyler was spiraling deeper into his chaotic use of opioids, I learned of an "underground" treatment called Ibogaine from a close, trusted mental health professional. I embarked on a relentless research journey that convinced me this was a treatment we wanted to pursue. Unfortunately, it was not available in this country due to its classification as a Schedule I Controlled Substance and Tyler was unable to renew his passport because the Covid-19 pandemic had closed the passport offices. By the time they reopened, Tyler had contracted severe endocarditis, which precluded him from safely receiving the treatment due to its potential cardiotoxicity. After Tyler passed away on October 5, 2020, I was determined to learn all I could about this treatment, why it was not legal, and if it was possible to make it available safely and ethically in our country.
As it turns out, Ibogaine does not meet the criteria for a Schedule I Controlled Substance and not only has it been used safely by the Bwiti people for hundreds of years, but data shows compelling evidence that it is far more effective than the currently available treatments for opioid use disorder. We support the research into Iboga, Ibogaine, Voaconga, and other plant medicines because of the compelling evidence.
We know the discomfort of child loss and we are dedicated to preventing more unnecessary loss of life, regardless of how uncomfortable these breakthrough therapies make some people. All of our stories are different, but we are bonded by this unique grief and are compelled to prevent others from experiencing it. We hope other Vilomahs will join our mission to bring these modalities to those who are suffering and help restore the natural order for generations to come.
Above all else, this we offer a safe place for vilomahs to share resources, connect with one another, and inspire each other to use our collective pain to bring this society back to a place where we prioritize compassion, connection to ourselves and others, nature, and improving quality of life for everyone. This is a place of grace, exploration, and acceptance. This is a place for us.
Susan Ousterman — Founder
Founder and Executive Director
For six years, my life was consumed by attempts to access effective treatment for my son. We were often guided by stigma and misinformation and were not equipped with the knowledge and tools to overcome his opioid addiction. As is common for so many of us, I dove into advocacy after losing Tyler in October 2020. Without the daily distraction of keeping him alive, it’s easy to see where the barriers and failures were. I am committed to removing the unfounded, false perceptions associated with substance use disorder. I believe this loss is a call to action for us to use our collective, fierce, unconditional love to transform our toxic culture into a more compassionate connected society.
Kathleen Cochran is the Founder of Moms for All Paths to Recovery, a large Facebook group dedicated to education and evidence-based policy and practice in the field of substance use. She is a wife to her husband Joe of 34 years, the mother to three children, Ian, Molly, and Joey, and the proud grandmother of a two-year-old grandson, Lukka.
Kathleen has been walking alongside her middle child, Molly, for 18 years of problematic drug and alcohol use. She and her daughter and grandson recently told a bit of their story in a documentary entitled Untreated & Unheard, produced by The Partnership to End Addiction, an organization she also volunteers for as a peer coach to other families. Kathleen strongly advocates for Harm Reduction and is passionate about helping other mothers. She is fully trained in the Invitation to Change Approach (ITC) through the Center for Motivation and Change by Drs Carrie Wilkens, Ken Carpenter, and Jeff Foote, who authored the book Beyond Addiction. You can follow her on Twitter @MomsAllPaths and subscribe to her Substack blog. Kathleen and her family live on the Central Coast of California, where she manages a Dude Ranch.
Ali lost her best friend, her brother Dylan, to overdose in 2021, and since then she’s made it her mission to use her boundless energy and determination to help connect those with substance use disorder to the resources they need. As a person in long-term recovery, she understands the discrimination many face and is able to assist in accessing resources. To honor her brother, she started a community outreach project, known as Dylan’s Hope Dealers. Multiple times each week, she and her dedicated volunteers collect donations of basic needs items and distribute them to anyone in need in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. She welcomes the help of anyone who’d like to get involved and encourages everyone to find Dylan’s Hope Dealers on Facebook for more information. You can also email Ali at Ali@vilomahgardens.org.
During her time working in sub-acute healthcare, Sandra learned how to be an effective patient advocate, but she was not prepared for the barriers that stigma created when she found herself advocating for her son’s medical and mental health treatment. After being prescribed opioids for an injury at just 15 years old, Jeffrey’s journey would include many system failures, spanning from methadone clinics to the cardiologists who denied him the surgery that could have saved his life. Since losing 24-year-old Jeffrey in 2012, Sandra has hosted local events on International Overdose Awareness Day, participated in national rallies, and continues to share Jeff’s heartbreaking story while advocating for drug policy reform in her home state of California as well as Washington DC. Her goal is to see a Ryan White-type program in the future for IVDU-related endocarditis.
I am a mom who is passionate about creating a gentler path for our youth and contributing to a movement focused on producing better outcomes for those with substance use disorder and all other vulnerable populations. My professional career includes experience as a comptroller for a specialty healthcare finance group and as the president of a medical fraud, waste, and abuse prevention and remediation company.
Social Justice Activist
Las Vegas, NV
To build a hub of resources for bereaved families, to create and maintain public gardens to honor of those lost to substance use and other deaths of despair, and to explore viable solutions for those suffering from substance use and mental health issues.
Please support the Vilomah Foundation by making a tax-deductible contribution today.
We aim to be a nurturing community of bereaved families to collaborate and support each other. We are redefining what joy, success, and normal look like and we welcome your input.