By Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis
We did everything the experts told us to do. We did what we thought was right. But lurking around every corner was the Monster. The Monster was waiting to pounce on us and steal our dreams and destroy our future. He did. Bigtime!
You may know the Monster by another name – Drugs! Whatever name you give him, he’s an unforgiving and unrelenting monster who, according to the DEA, claims the lives of one American every 20 minutes.
When our son died, I could not bring myself to utter the words – “he died from a multidrug overdose.” I could merely say his heart stopped. He was a 31-year-old Paramedic and RN. The dregs of society? No. He was a young man with promise, talent, intelligence, good looks, kindness and every loving attribute you can describe.
Some kids do drugs to feel good or their peers entice them to do so but a lot of kids start taking drugs to self-medicate their emotional pain.
We can no longer remain silent about drug addiction. For far too long we’ve sat back and let the experts speak for us. Now we must speak.
We must not only get a firm handle on drug addiction but we must do all that we can to help the mentally ill. Mental illness and drug addiction quite often go hand in hand.
Three and four week rehabs are not the answer.
Jail time is not the answer. Unless an addicted person has committed a crime while under the influence of drugs (the fact that even doing drugs is a crime, notwithstanding) they don’t need to be sequestered in jail with hardened criminals. They need treatment, not punishment.
Although ridiculed, Nancy Reagan was spot on with her “Just Say No” message. But that won’t work in and of itself. We must attack this with as much vigor as the anti-tobacco campaign. Until science discovers a cure for addiction, the only remedy truly is prevention. “Be smart – Don’t start.”
We have to start early on talking to our kids about drugs, showing them the horrific consequences of drug abuse. Let them see the drug addicts in hospitals and nursing homes who are alive but not really living.
It is never too early to talk to our kids about drugs, but it can be too late.
Our schools must implement drug prevention classes beginning with first grade and tailored to their level of comprehension!
We must make mental illness a top priority. If we don’t, we run the risk of more Cho Seung Hue’s and others of his ilk, in our midst.
All of us must be proactive. The time has long passed to close our ears and eyes to this abomination perpetrated on our children by the drug dealers – the true Addiction Monsters.
I am one of the mothers of a child who died from the disease of addiction and I am speaking up. Won’t you join me?
Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis is the author of the book “I Am Your Disease (The Many Faces of Addiction)” published by Outskirts Press. You can read about, and purchase the book at www.iamyourdisease.com
I am a retired medical transcriptionist and radio DJ who also did voiceovers for TV. Married, with one living son, having lost my youngest son Scott, who was a paramedic and an RN to the disease of addiction. Happily married for 40 years to Jack, 8th grade science teacher. My oldest son Dale is soon to be a graduate student in Ecology and Environmental Biology.
We live in Palm Bay, Florida. I am originally from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and am a citizen of both Australia and the US. We are owned by one dog and two cats!
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