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August 23, 2010

What I Know and Feel About Legalizing Marijuana

The news recently of a softening of attitudes toward the legalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana for "recreational" use has resurrected an old philosophical conflict in me born of my own use of Pot in the1970s.  Of course in my  using days I would have supported the notion that decriminalizing  the use of marijuana was a good thing. 

Leaf But unlike many "boomer's" I don't feel that way today.

What I feel  today is that we as a society continue to be too quick to criminalize and incarcerate those who suffer from the disease of substance abuse addiction rather than get them treatment they need and the recovery they deserve.  We  have repeatedly ignored the growing body of research that monies spent on incarceration would be better utilized and more cost effective spent on prevention, treatment and recovery.

What I know  today is that for me and for my son David, marijuana was indeed a gateway drug that led to the deepening of our own addictions. 

For me marijuana use contributed to an adulthood of abusing and using alcohol and other substances to excess. 

For David it cost him his life at the age of 16 and robbed his family and friends of his touch, his love and his light forever.

August 23, 2010 at 08:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 19, 2010

K2 and SPICE

While Indiana has not usually been considered a State that takes swift action on substance abuse and K2 public health related issues the recent decisive moves by several municipalities across the State to band  the sale of the "herb" or synthetic marijuana known as K2 or SPICE is laudable.  While more than one legislator has signaled their intention to offer legislation to ban the sale and possession of K2 during the next session of the Indiana State Legislature, a new state statute would not take effect for almost a year from now.  However St. Joseph, Boone, Morgan and Allen counties in Indiana have all moved to ban the sale effective immediately and hopefully many more with follow. 

If the cities and counties of Indiana continue to be proactive perhaps before long K2 will again only be the second highest mountain in the world.. 

August 19, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2010

Addiction....Tragedy and Inevitability

Last night I slipped downstairs to our darkened kitchen for the proverbial "late night snack".  As I opened the door to the freezer the soft light from the compartment illuminated the array of family photos on the refrigerator side that one finds in any home across this country.  Tucked in the middle of the menagerie is a picture taken at Christmas 2000 of two proud parents and their two beaming sons in front of our family room fireplace.  Image Happiness and joy radiate from the faces in the picture and yet as I gaze upon it all these years later my heart  still aches for the son who is now absent from our touch and our embrace.

Aristotle said that "tragedy reflects the inevitability of death" and that tragedy occurs when certain social conditions combine with hereditary predispositions.  I'm not sure how I feel about the inevitability portion of the great philosopher's equation, but I do know how I feel about tragedy...I feel it's ache, it's emptiness and it's sorrow at least a little bit every day.  And if by sharing our story and our hope of dealing with David's loss from addiction....we can help one child and one family from feeling what we feel today then perhaps we can hold at bay tragedy's inevitability....for one life and for one family and for one day at a time.

August 16, 2010 at 04:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2010

It was just a can of Computer Duster

Images I can’t remember when the first can of computer duster showed up in my son David’s room, but it certainly caused me no alarm.  As parents we work hard at providing the “tools” our children need to navigate the increasingly complex culture we live in and my wife and I were no exception.  Professionally I was an early adopter of desktop technology and felt it was important that my boys have all the advantages that a personal computer offered.  So by the time they were both in high school I had arranged for them to have their own computers in each of their bedrooms.

 

When the can of computer duster first appeared in David’s room I was impressed at what I assumed was his pride of ownership and desire to keep his equipment in good working order.  He had always been very particular about his appearance and usually kept his room in much better order than his older brother.  So when I saw the “duster” on the dresser I took some satisfaction in his seeming fastidiousness.

But like so many parents, I was seeing what I wanted to see in spite of the warning signs that were all around me.  Only weeks before David had completed an intensive outpatient program for substance abuse.  He was still attending an “aftercare” program of weekly meetings and mandatory drug screens.  He was at that highly vulnerable period all addicts face in early recovery when the desire to get high is still a powerful force to be reckoned with, a force that was more powerful than we knew, but more importantly more powerful than he knew.

Somewhere along the way David had learned that he could get high from inhaling the propellant from cans of computer duster, that it was cheap and could be purchased at any drug store, that it left no tell tale signs, and best of all…it was not detectable in the routine drug screens he had pledge to us that he would take and pass.  But the propellant in “duster” is poisonous when inhaled and can cause sudden death by precipitating cardiac arrest.  Death can occur without warning even the first time someone uses an inhalant.

 

And so it was that on a sunny June day five years ago, while David and some friends swam at a backyard pool, inhaling the propellant from the can of computer duster and diving under the water to intensify the rush, that the innocuous can that first appeared in his bedroom beside his computer, claimed his life.  His heart stopped, his lungs filled with water, his body convulsed as he sank to the bottom of the pool and drowned in the shallow end.  And when his friends pulled him from the water the can of computer duster was still clenched in his fist.

 

I can’t remember when the first can of computer duster showed up in David’s room, but I do know there was one in the emergency room when my wife and my son Josh told the doctors and nurses to stop their valiant efforts to revive him.

 

Now....I can’t forget.

August 10, 2010 at 03:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 06, 2010

How Does a Parent Feel When They Discover Their Child is Using Drugs?

When I first discoverd that our 16 year old son had a serious problem with alcohol and marijuana I suddenly could not breathe, my chest ached as I felt waves of anguish wash over my heart.  I sought refuge in my wife's arms and as we held each other tightly tears welled up then leaked from the corners of my eyes.  My mind raced.  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO HIM...HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO US...AND WHO DO WE TURN TO FOR HELP?

August 6, 2010 at 12:44 PM in The Unspeakable | Permalink | Comments (0)