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Monday, February 6, 2012

Deaths To Drugs -- When Will They End?


First of all, I must admit I have not lost an immediate family member to the disease of drug abuse. I pray to God I never will, and I emphasize with those who are dealing with these tragic losses. As a high school teacher for many years, I have lost many students to drug abuse. Also, I have had many friends and relatives who have suffered through the tragedy of losing a loved one to one of the many complications of abuse.

Living in a community devastated by the easy availability of drugs, I feel a responsibility to search for ways to end this epidemic and to save the lives of those who are dependent.

After a tragic death caused by drug abuse, 
one question always crashes through the populace
with the force of a tsunami: 
"How many more are going to die
before our community is restored to health?"

After at least a decade of ignoring and providing "half-ass" solutions to improving the drug epidemic, our community has risen to the call. Now, many organizations and individuals are providing needed resources to fight drug abuse. In fact, our county has become known for its positive grass roots movement and its commitment to change and rebirth. We continue to the Phoenix rising from the ashes of Southern Ohio.

Still, more people die, 
and we feel the terrible pain of 
their family members and friends.

Though we must accept these deaths 
as inevitable outcomes of the war against abuse, 
we despise our inability to prevent one more loss. 

We have learned the only way to accept a tragedy
is to redouble our efforts to lift the cause. 

We have dedicated ourselves to remembering 
the individuals who die and to making their passing 
a "path" that leads to help for others who struggle.

Today, the question resounds 
in the wake of yet another death. 
"How many more?" 

I wish I could answer, "NONE!" But, to do so would betray my sensibilities and would require the dedicated efforts of every citizen and the workings of the Almighty.

So, I must say, "I don't know how many more deaths will occur."


* I do know that we need to equip everyone with tools of prevention. All of us, preschoolers to seniors, must become better educated about abuse. We must teach people practical reasoning skills and strengthen their abilities to make good choices while showing them the consequences of decisions.

* I do know to ignore the problem and to convince yourself that your family is somehow "above" harm is simply to rely on good fate. Drug abuse does not restrict itself to devastating the population of the poor and the ignorant or any other social class.

* I do know the so-called "druggies" are good people in our community we all must choose to accept as diseased individuals in need, not enemies of society. Each dependent person is unique with a unique history of abuse. A human life saved, no matter how dirty or repugnant the person, has great potential as an investment for the future.

* I do know the power of one individual in the efforts to end abuse. There is nothing inherently wrong with Scioto County or with its people. However, there is something wrong when a community cannot use their human resources to instill pride and value in their own home. Negativity breeds negativity. Some wise person once said, "If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month."

I found a great article that may help those who struggle with an addicted loved one. In fact, considering the answers to these questions may help ease the cry of "How many more?" The blog post is by Ron Grover on the blog Intervene ("7 Truths About My Addict It Took 5 Years to Learn," The Partnership At DrugFree.Org, November 6 2009). It hits hard but is information and very thought provoking.

Have You Considered the True Answers to These Questions?

1. Do I see that I am enabling a loved one to become an addict?

Others -- sponsors, recovering addicts, police officers -- may be able to do a better job at showing an addict the right path. Some family love the addict so much that they cannot do the right thing for him/her. Many times distance creates proper perspective.

2. Do see that my loved one's drug addiction is "a problem I cannot fix"?

Sometimes we all must conclude, "I cannot fix this." The addict has a problem only he/she must ultimately fix. As conditioned "fixers," parents, especially, feel the obligation to make things right. When they can't, they feel defeated and often do not seek outside help. Outside help is usually imperative for fixing a problem. 

3. Do I see that my addicted loved one is a liar?

Addicts tell me they will say anything to hide their addiction and take any action to mask their problem. Perhaps they get to the point where they don't even know they are lying.They probably don't like themselves or what they are doing. Lying and getting little signals of acceptance becomes a means of approval. Do not rely on faith that they are not using because they told you.

4. Do I see that my addicted loved one is a criminal?

Symptoms of this disease include illegal behavior. If the addict has done things wrong, he/she must pay his debt to society. What good does it do to bad mouth the police, the judge, the jail, the lawyers? They did not put him/her there? He/She must eventually face up to responsibility

5. Do I see that others do not want my addicted loved one "around them"?

If the addict has wronged people, what should he/she expect? These folks might include friends, siblings, grandparents. But, parents have unconditional love. They can use this unconditional love for support. But sometimes is becomes OK for this type of love to end. There is no wrong choice.

6. Do I see life with my addicted loved one won't "be the same as it once was"?

It is easy for families to see their 21-year-old addict as a wonderful child of the past. In reality, their maturity level may not have developed. The past "child" is gone, and a new "diseased adult" has taken its place. Grieving the loss of innocence will not help him/her to move forward. Grover gives some powerful understanding here: "An addict does not live in the past or the future. An addict lives in the here and now, if you want to help your addict you must live in the same world he does." 

7. Do I comprehend that homelessness is "the path my addicted love one chooses."

The addict has made these choices. Rest assured there are organizations and people to help the homeless. Even to get this help though, the addict must make the decision himself/herself. Parents cannot change those circumstances nor should they offer the addict a bed in their home if he/she continues to live the negative lifestyle.

Please read this entire blog entry here: http://intervene.drugfree.org/2009/11/7-truths-about-my-addict-that-took-5-years-to-learn/

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