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Tomsha joins opioid task force on state ‘listening tour’

LaSalle News Tribune

Thursday, October 12, 2017  |  Article  |  

Luke Tomsha, founder of La Salle-based Perfectly Flawed Foundation, spoke during the first stop on a “statewide listening tour” by an Illinois group seeking solutions to the mounting death toll of the heroin crisis and opioid epidemic.

Tomsha, a member of the Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force led by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, joined a panel at a field hearing in the Dirksen federal courthouse in Chicago and, spoke about his experiences along with three other people touched by what the task force is calling “opioid use disorder.”

After sharing his story of his successes in the computer and internet service field, all while having a heroin addiction that was ruining his life, Tomsha was shown on WGN-TV Wednesday with the panel saying:

“The solutions might not be one-size-fits-all,” he was heard saying on WGN-TV.

Tomsha is just one person on the statewide committee made up of Illinois residents and officials from all walks of life. Joining him in telling their stories Wednesday in Chicago were a nurse who lost a child to overdose, a Chicago police captain who lost a son “and a girl whose brother died in 2009.”

Wednesday night, Tomsha said he was surprised that he was called upon to speak so much.

“They told me they wanted me to be at a field hearing. I didn’t know it was going to be televised. I didn’t know I was going to give testimony.”

Going to the federal building, solo, on this mission was a new step for him.

“I took a picture of an emblem and I got in trouble because you can’t take pictures in the federal building,” he said. He could use his phone again inside the room where the hearing took place and was relieved to be able to check his email.

He said he had a one-page talk prepared and read it verbatim.

Here’s what Tomsha entered into the public record:

“My name is Luke Tomsha. I have a 7-year old son and I am the second of five kids from a working class family in North Central Illinois. In 2000, I graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in engineering. I soon started a technology business with friends and had a promising career.

“However, looking back it was a career I didn’t enjoy. This lack of fulfillment led me to seek ‘instant happiness’ after work by getting wasted with friends. Eventually this quick-fix for happiness led to harder drugs until I graduated to opiates.

“For the next 14 years, I silently checked myself in-and-out of rehab battling this addiction until I finally had enough. I could not hide it anymore and eventually made my struggle public to make others aware so I couldn’t silently slip back under the radar. I have now been narcotic free since August of 2015.

“As individuals like me continue to come forward with their stories, you will find the reasons for addiction are unique to the individual. In my 14-year struggle, I was able to experience multiple approaches to addiction first hand.

“Through that experience, I feel a calling inside to share this perspective in hopes to make a difference. The path to an optimal life free of substance abuse can take multiple pathways based on the individual’s personal needs and I now advocate for an all-encompassing approach to addiction.

“Whether it be medical assisted treatment, abstinence-based programs or more holistic approaches, addiction is not a one-size fits all package.

“My approach to life after addiction is simple. The goal is to find purposeful living that brings personal satisfaction so you don’t become dependent on drugs and alcohol for your happiness. By identifying ones talents, individuals can seek out a life of purpose based on that skill set. It sounds easy, but adapting to such a drastic change in lifestyle can be a complicated process. So it’s important take pride in small wins and focus on any positive change in this uphill pursuit.

“My purpose living came in the form of philanthropy. In March I started a 501(c3) nonprofit, The Perfectly Flawed Foundation, which aims to strengthen communities affected by substance abuse. We have seen a fast-paced success. Along with donations to our local schools and library, our efforts have been well received by local business leaders and donors.

“In the United States, over 140 families are losing loved ones each day due to this crisis and the number of babies born addicted to opiates is soaring. In 2015, over 80,000 children went into foster care due to parental drug abuse. Even more are being raised by grandparents and relatives because their parents are in prison or worse yet, dead.

“These children are the next generation of our communities and it’s important we expose them opportunities to unlock their hidden potential so they can avoid the lifestyle they were so innocently exposed to. At the core of our mission, we aim to provide these children access to extracurricular activities such as art, music, karate, yoga and gymnastics.

“Moving forward it is this work strengthening communities affected by substance abuse that will define me, not my past addiction. I hope to inspire others to do the same. We have a monumental task ahead of us. It’s time we all step up and make a difference. This is my story. This is my redemption.”