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July 27, 2006

Memories, Blogs and the Partnership

Over the past year I have had the privilege of sharing my memories, my dreams, my joys and my sorrows in this blog as I walk this path to find meaning and hope in David's death from substance abuse.  When our friends from the Partnership for a Drug Free America first approached me about beginning this blog I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to lift the curtain of sadness, pain and grief long enough to allow in the light of healing and recovery. 

But with their encouragement, guidance and compassion they have made it possible for me to uncover an inner strength in remembering and sharing things that for a long time I thought I wanted to forget forever.  I have learned many things this past year not the least of which is when one opens a door to the past and gives voice to memory...new insights and understanding result.

There are still memories behind that door and under that curtain...memories that have not yet seen the light of hope. They will come when the time is right...but at least for now...I know I'm not afraid of them anymore.

July 27, 2006 at 10:42 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 24, 2006

Memorials of Remembrance

If I have learned anything over the past five years since David’s death, it is that grief is an individual emotion, which no two people experience in the same way.  True there are identifiable stages of grief one moves through, but each must find their own way….and in their own time.  Many who lose a child desire to preserve not only their memories but the objects and possessions of their son or daughter as they had been the day died, in effect creating a memorial of remembrance. 

For us such an approach would have been too painful to create and while there is much about David’s room that is still the same it is not as if he could walk back into it today and feel as if nothing had been touched. 

Yet there are things that remain where he left them five years ago, his black and white golf shoes by the door to the garage, his jacket and hat hanging on the back of his bedroom door, the bottle of chocolate syrup in the back and the cup of applesauce on the refrigerator door, and his putter leaning against the wall in the basement.

The all await the touch of his hand…as I do.

I guess we all have our memorials of remembrance.

July 24, 2006 at 01:18 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2006

I had a dream

I had a dream last night.

I rarely remember my dreams more than a few fleeting moments after the veil of sleep begins to lift and consciousness creeps slowly into my mind eventually taking hold.  I remember this one though.  For those of you who are fans of the actor and "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Bill Murray, my dream took on all the trappings of his popular movie "Groundhog's Day" in which Murray plays a cynical television reporter who relives the same day over and over again until he does all the right things to break the cycle.

In the movie in MY mind I was the Murray character of course caught in the cycle of my son David's addiction, desperately trying to do all the right things to break the sequence of events that I knew would lead to his death at the end of each day.  I woke again and again in the dream to try a new permutation of "right things," hoping against hope I could finally produce the outcome I so badly wanted before I ran out of time.

Dreams often take us where our concious minds won't allow us to go, and so it was last night for me.  For a little while in the darkness of my room I spent time with Dave again....pleading and begging him not to do the things he was doing...

but always running out of time.

July 22, 2006 at 04:41 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2006

Huffing In The Heartland

The recent rash of huffing incidents by teenagers in Franklin, Indiana, has that town’s Police Chief worried, according to an article in the Indianapolis Star (“4 Huffing Incidents Reported,” July 11).  He should be and so should every parent of a preteen or teenager who isn’t aware of this type of substance abuse.

Huffing, the intentional inhaling of a volatile propellant or gas to get high, may seem unthreatening because its effects are short-lived. The propellants and gases that produce the brief feeling of euphoria are in hundreds of household items. So how could they be deadly or harmful?  They are harmful because the chemicals that make up propellants in aerosol cans are poisons and toxins that were never intended to be introduced into the human body.  Our family learned that lesson the hard way when our 16 year old son David died after inhaling the propellant in a can of computer duster.

An astounding and terrifying reality is the wide gap between what parents know or think about inhalant abuse and what young people report. According to a survey conducted by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, one in five teens has abused inhalants, yet only 5 percent of parents believe that their child has ever tried inhalants.  When parents are aware of a lethal risk in their home they do everything possible to warn their children and/or eliminate that risk. But these useful household products can be lethal when abused and unfortunately few parents and their teens are talking about the dangers of huffing or looking for signs of use.

The reality is that every time teens abuse inhalants they are playing Russian roulette. Huffing can kill the first time, the twentieth time or the hundredth time.  Continued use can result in brain damage, hearing and memory loss, and/or permanent damage to the lungs, liver, kidneys and other vital organs.

In a survey compiled in 2005 by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center one in ten Hoosier 8th, 9th, and 10th graders reported using inhalants at least once.  Inhalant use in 6th, 7th and 8th grade students was the third most abused substance behind alcohol and cigarettes, with 6th graders reporting almost twice the use of inhalants over marijuana.   

This should be a wake-up call for parents, schools, our entire community -- for more conversation and education. Our children deserve to have information that could save their lives and the lives of their friends. Information permits discussion, which can lead to prevention. Parents, take time this summer to talk to your teens and pre-teens about huffing. Arm yourselves with information about the dangers of inhalants and how to talk to your kids about drugs through websites such as www.drugfree.org, www.drugfreemarioncounty.org, and www.inhalant.org, and www.the24group.org Talk to your school administrators about getting information about inhalant abuse in the library, counseling office, and at PTA meetings.   

We thought we would know the signs of serious drug use in our son but we were wrong.  Substance abuse cuts across all sectors of our society and touches one family in three.  Our family story doesn’t have a happy ending but we can honor David’s memory if we can help make others aware of the deadly perils of inhalant abuse.

July 19, 2006 at 02:15 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 01, 2006

Hope Academy....A Recovery High School

I attended the ground breaking for a new high school today.  As parents who lost a son to substance abuse at 16 and whose other son just completed his masters degree in counseling last month, one might think us unlikely candidates to attend a function where a group of politicians and educators turn a few shovels of earth for a new secondary school.  But this is not just another high school…this is Hope Academy a charter high school in Indianapolis for adolescents who are in recovery from the disease of addiction.

Recovery from addiction is a challenge at any age but it is particularly so for teenagers.  Their bodies and brains are changing rapidly while they are still trying to make sense out of their emotions, values, behaviors, and friendships.  Key to their development at this point is the creation of identity.  Identity formation, if done in a healthy manner, yields a young person who is more secure and certain about friendships, sexuality, moral values and group loyalties.  A teenager struggling with addiction and early in his recovery, often finds the return to his high school environment fraught with dangers and temptations that threaten daily his continued sobriety.  Statistics tell us that 90% of adolescents who complete a recovery program and return to their old high school are offered their drug of choice their FIRST day back.  Our son Dave followed this path.  He completed his treatment, returned to his high school, began using again and was dead three months later. 

The concept of a recovery high school where teenagers can find a drug free and recovery supportive environment is not new, but Hope Academy is the first school of its kind in the State of Indiana.  Its establishment means that young people like our son David can continue their education and integrate their recovery into their high school experience.

And while I don’t usually go there, for a moment yesterday, I couldn’t help asking myself..had there been a place like Hope Academy five years ago…would it be possilbe that Dave might be alive today?

July 1, 2006 at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack