This week my son had a speaker named Christopher Milo come to his school to talk about the heroin epidemic! We went to a meeting on Thursday evening to hear his message about a subject that I have been concerned about for some time. Our niece died a couple years ago of a methadone overdose (which I didn’t even know was possible,) while trying to wean herself off of heroin. Our nephew, her brother, has been in and out of prison and homeless shelters in the throes of his addiction.
I don’t know I really understood the extent of the problem until I started reading The West Side Leader (a free newspaper delivered right to my doorstep.) Under the neighborhood watch, they list some of the incidence that involved the police in the previous week. In the last year, I started seeing 1-3 overdose incidences listed for our area every week (and we have a rather small community!) As a matter of fact, it would be easy to think that those sorts of things happened elsewhere and not here in our neighborhood! What a wake-up call!!
I was shocked by some of the stories he shared in his presentation and glad of it! I think it’s important for people to hear the shocking details of this pandemic that has permeated our society. I would be surprised if there is a person in this country who can say they haven’t been affected in some way! As a matter of fact, I would be willing to bet that anyone who thinks that probably knows someone who is keeping their problem a secret. I can’t imagine that is one that can be kept for long!
I, for one, do not want to perpetuate the silence that has allowed this rot to fester under the surface! As a child of an alcoholic, I learned early on about addiction from my addict who sobered up and determined to teach us and prepare us for life. My education was probably my saving grace as it helped me navigate the treacherous waters of adulthood. Which is exactly why I started my conversation with my son early on. He’s 11 and I’ve been talking to him for a couple of years now. There are those that have been shocked by my openness, as if by sharing I would create a problem or encourage him in this direction. I believe the opposite. I want him to know that he can talk to me about ANYTHING and that he NEEDS to hear my warnings about the dangers in this world.
I had my son when I was 30 so I had plenty of time to think about how I was going to raise him. I came up with 2 important things to do early on. First, I decided that I HAD to teach him how to handle disappointment. Life is full of it and if we shield them from it at an early age, it will crush them later on. I also decided that I had to keep him busy. He’s a purple belt in karate, a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do, and he started swim lessons at an early age, so he’s an excellent swimmer (if he can manage to get his grades up I may let him compete some day!) This year he will start band playing the clarinet which I’m sure he will excel at and enjoy immensely.
I want this to be a safe place to communicate openly and express ourselves honestly. Like I said the silence must cease!!! I would love to hear your stories and experiences so that we as a community can learn together!