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February 22, 2009

The Phoenix of Recovery


I used to think the Phoenix of ancient Greek lore was just a tale told around a roaring fire full of fantasy and whimsy.  A story of  a mythical bird with a tail of beautiful gold and red plumage and a life span of 500 to 1,000 years.  Near the end of its time it builds a nest of myrrh twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. But today I know that it is true.

Recovering addicts and alcoholics know the tale of the Phoenix by heart, because it is our story, we have lived it....some of us more times than others.  We build our lives around drugs and alcohol then destroy ourselves in a conflagration as we spiral down out of control, out of reason and out of hope. 

But if we find recovery and follow those who have been down this path of recovery before us, we can rise from the ashes and be reborn.

February 22, 2009 at 06:00 AM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 18, 2009

March is National Inhalant and Poisons Awareness Month

On a warm Saturday in June 2001, our son David Manlove of Indianapolis, 16, got up early and mowed the yard. Later, he went to a friend's house to swim, and then made the decision that cost him his life.  David and a friend went to a nearby drugstore and bought a can of computer duster. They returned to the pool and inhaled the duster to get high. David dove underwater to intensify the rush. He did it a few times before his heart stopped. David drowned.

David was a popular, athletic young man who played baseball for Lawrence Central High School.  He wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon but didn't realize that inhalants are as dangerous as illegal drugs. He didn't think they were harmful because you could be purchased at any drugstore or office supply retailer. David had hopes and dreams just as any 16 year old does, and this was not what he wanted for himself.

Huffing” the intentional inhaling of a volatile propellant or gas to get high -- may seem unthreatening because its effects are short-lived.  Plus, the propellants and gases that produce the brief feeling of euphoria are in hundreds of common 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. So why would anyone want to inhale toxic chemicals? It’s because breathing in chemical vapors found in products such as aerosol cans, glue, cleaning fluid, and nail polish remover-produces a quick high.  But that high has devastating effects on the body. Inhalants block oxygen from entering the brain and lungs, which can result in suffocation. Huffing can cause heart failure and death within minutes, the very first time you do it. This is known as sudden sniffing death syndrome which caused David’s death.

Despite the danger, inhalant abuse is on the rise. In an alarming recent report, one in five teens reports having abused inhalants. And 36 percent of teens don't understand that huffing can be fatal.  
An even more astounding and terrifying reality is the wide gap between what parents know or think about inhalant abuse and what young people report.  A recent survey conducted by the Partnership for a Drug Free America shows that while one in five teens has abused inhalants only 5 percent of parents believe that their child has ever tried inhalants.

What can be done? Awareness is the key.  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 2007 by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, one in 10 Hoosier eighth-, ninth- and 10th-graders reported using inhalants at least once.  Inhalant use in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students was the third most abused substance behind alcohol and cigarettes, with sixth-graders reporting almost twice the use of inhalants as 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. We urge parents to take time this month 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 Web sites such as:


http://www.drugfree.org/, http://timetoact.drugfree.org/, http://www.inhalants.org/, http://www.the24group.org/ and http://www.inhalant.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.


In the end it was a decision that David made on the spur of the moment that has caused irreparable harm to his family and friends.  When you use an inhalant, it's a life-and-death decision every time you huff.

February 18, 2009 at 09:52 AM in The Odyssey | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2009

Evanescence - My Immortal - And The Loss of Child

If you are unacquainted with the alternative  band Evanesence and the haunting voice of its founder, pianist and lead vocalist Amy Lee, their musical style which at times has been charactrized as a cross between heavy and Goth metal may at first be a bit imposing.  But for those of us who have lost someone suddenly and tragically their song My Immortal holds a very special meaning.


I'm so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
'Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone

These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me

You used to captivate me
By your resonating life
Now I'm bound by the life you've left behind
Your face it haunts
My once pleasant dreams
Your voice it chased away
All the sanity in me

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me
I've been alone all along

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have

All of Me

February 15, 2009 at 03:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack