SOUTHBURY “DARES TO DISCUSS DRUGS” By Dorrie Carolan & Donna DeLuca May 2010
Southbury and Middlebury are committed to being proactive in facing substance use and abuse among our young people. Join us and other parents or caregivers, concerned adult citizens, educators, town officials, and all who care about our youth in getting educated and empowered to take action. “Dare to Discuss Drugs” begins our collective conversation.
DARE TO DISCUSS DRUGS FORUM When: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 Where: Pomperaug High School All-Purpose Room Southbury, CT Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM Facilitator: John Hamiltion, LMFT, LADC
Our kids are dying senselessly. They’re dying from substance abuse. Some are dying a slow, insidious death. Others are taken from us suddenly, with little to no warning. We are losing the battle against substance abuse and we are losing loved ones — in western Connecticut and across the nation.
Our hearts break when young people die tragically. We cannot explain the devastating loss. In the grand circle of life, it is not natural to have our children die before us. Yet, recently, we have learned of the tragic deaths of a number of Southbury and Middlebury residents: all of them in some way could be linked to drinking or drug use. The scenario has become all too familiar — our beautiful Connecticut communities having lost an inordinate number of lives to drugs or alcohol. These deaths are always personal and the reality strikes us hard. The young people who died ate dinner at our houses, played youth sports with our children, were polite, respectful and well-loved. They were sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, grandchildren or friends. They were like any of our own children. Their deaths hit us terribly close to home; in our hearts.
The critical issue is not merely about reaching out to parents with children suffering from substance abuse; it is about all who love and care for children of all ages willing to mobilize in order to prevent future tragedies. Natural instinct is to protect loved ones, and we try our best to accomplish this. But what goes awry? Published author and motivational speaker, Norm Bossio, challenges parents, educators and all who are in contact with kids to simply make eye contact with them when they speak to us. For some, this is a new and difficult concept, because it involves ceasing to attend to the myriad outside distractions of this world and hone in completely on the cares and concerns of those we love. When fully present to our children, we tell them they are the most essential priority in our lives — valued and cherished beyond all else. Listening with an open heart means something we hear may sting, or even hurt our egos, but we take a deep breath, perhaps whisper a prayer, and listen anyway. By not reacting in a way that alienates them, we invite more conversation. Our challenge is to respond with words that promote sound moral values and protect their lives, however unpopular it may sound. This age and culture is not the time to be our child’s best friend; it is the time to be a strong parent, a strong caregiver.
We are two mothers intensely concerned with the factors that led to our own children’s addictions. One of us suffers the loss of her son, while the other prays daily for her child’s survival. The recent deaths remind us of our commitment to educate and empower the community in the prevention of substance abuse and to embrace families in crisis. Suffering alone is not necessary, as we have been there and we know that staying desperate and in despair is counterproductive. We offer hope. Sickened, saddened and sorry for the recent loss of these wonderful young people, we feel personally led to reach out empathically to those bearing the agony of addiction in shame or silence. The process of obtaining substantive help can be extremely complicated, but with the assistance of those of us who have lived through it, the course of action is not only less daunting, it can be faced with strength and hope. Lives have been saved and they will continue to be saved if together we have the courage and fortitude to listen with our hearts — to our children, our family, our friends and to each other, and seek guidance immediately when we hear something bristling or disturbing.
All are urged to be much more vigilant in monitoring our children. We have learned from local police that our children are confronted with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, prescription drugs, and heroin each day. We need to safeguard them. Young people seeking recovery are telling us that the substance abuse crisis is worse than imaginable. Prescription medications and heroin (“bad” heroin, in some cases) have killed our kids. Binge drinking is rampant and “partying” with adult permission is commonplace. Buying, selling and trading pills is occurring undetected by adult caregivers. Exercise parental responsibility and know where your children are. Wait up for them and look closely into their eyes. Ask whether gatherings will be supervised, then call the other home for verification. Say “no” to an activity that sounds chancy or unsafe. Risk being unpopular with your child or loved one by setting firm boundaries and parameters, then stick to them. Check your liquor and your medicine cabinets. Check your children’s rooms and their eyes. If you feel in your gut that something is not quite right, trust your instinct and take immediate action. If paralyzed by the stark reality of substance abuse, let us guide you to professionals who can intervene.
We implore all involved in our young people’s lives to listen with open, intuitive hearts to what our children have to say. Sometimes in their silence we learn what is locked inside them. Other times it is through their stoicism, anger or defensiveness that we obtain the clues we need. Never stop trying to intervene. Losing young lives so tragically makes us grab and hold on tighter to those we love. Love them fervently and never let them doubt the security of your love. If and when it appears that things are going wrong, reach out to those who can help.
There was a large turnout June 8, 2010 for the Dare to Discuss Drugs Forum. Southbury and Middlebury are committed to being proactive in facing substance use and abuse among our young people. Parents, caregivers, concerned adult citizens, educators, town officials, and all who care about our youth in getting educated and empowered to take action. “Dare to Discuss Drugs” began a collective conversation.
OUR KIDS ARE DYING SENSELESSLY. They’re dying from substance abuse. Some are dying a slow, insidious death. Others are taken from us suddenly, with little to no warning. We are losing the battle against substance abuse and we are losing loved ones — in western Connecticut and across the nation.