Saturday, April 14, 2012

Drug Awareness


Not MY KID, not at my HIGH SCHOOL, and certainly not  IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD!!!!

When most of us grew up there was probably a group of kids at our local high school that took drugs on the weekends. They may have smoked pot or taken a hit of acid at a party now and then. In the last 30 or 40 years all that has changed; prescription drugs have infiltrated our high schools and our junior highs. The potency and availability of drugs has increased. The teens who are using drugs are no longer a small group of kids who cut classes to smoke a joint in the parking lot. Today teens are starting out by taking prescription pills, which are often opiates.  These pills have a much higher potency as well as have a highly addictive component. Teenagers are much more likely to become addicted to opiates because their brains are still developing. There is no room for experimentation with todays drugs.  We are no longer talking about a handful of kids who hang out in the parking lot to smoke a joint. Teens who are becoming addicted to drugs or abusing drugs today come from good homes; they have parents who have done all they could to provide a stable, loving home.  The teens who are overdosing on prescription pills include kids who are involved in clubs, and sports, they are cheerleaders, and football players.  This is NOT about good parenting. It's about getting involved and educating our communities.

We have to wake up people, this is going on in YOUR HIGH SCHOOL, YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD,  AND THESE ARE YOUR KIDS!!!!!

Today teens attend parties where bowls full of random prescription pills are available for the taking.  Party attendees bring whatever prescription pills they have and toss them into a bowl and randomly reach in and take a handful. The introduction of Oxycontin and Opana (both prescription pain medications that are highly addictive)  has caused a widespread epidemic that is robbing families of their loved ones.

Anyone who has lived with addiction knows that it devastates the entire family. Once a young person becomes addicted to drugs they no longer have a choice. The craving for the drug rules their every waking moment. The need for the drug takes them to places they never could have imagined.
There is a very poignant moment in the documentary, Overtaken, when Cole says, "I like to say Addiction robbed me of my my morals and my ethics, I stole thousands and thousands of dollars from my parents, I wrecked cars, I wrecked relationships, I traumatized my family, which today, I am not comfortable with but back then I didn't care."

These young people didn't set out to be drug addicts or to have their lives ruined by the craving for a drug. There is another line in the documentary that speaks to this,
"When you can stop,  you don't want to,
 and,  when you want to stop  you can't."

As I mentioned before, teenagers have brains that are still developing,  They are very impulsive as a result of this immature brain development. They don't have the ability to make rationale decisions. One choice  to take a pill can alter a person's life forever.

The lives of the Rubin family will be forever altered as a result of Aaron's overdose from Oxycontin in 2005. Aaron was in a coma for 3 weeks. Sherrie stated, "we were planning his funeral". Aaron is now quadriplegic, he communicates by using his hands and fingers. Today instead of attending college as a student, Aaron and his mother give presentations at colleges about the dangers of prescription drugs.

Aaron Rubin and some of my classmates at Saddleback College
Sherrie and Aaron Rubin

Some teens don't survive the overdose. Jarrod Barber was one of those teenagers whose life was cut short. On January 8, 2010 Jodi Barber and her husband, Bill woke up to find Jarrod barely breathing on the sofa. A few days later they were attending his funeral. Today rather than attending her sons college graduation, or helping to plan his wedding she is advocating to shut down pill mills and educating students in junior high and high school about the dangers of prescription pills. She and Christine Brandt produced the  documentary OVERTAKEN. Jodi and Christine work tirelessly to educate our community about the dangers of these drugs.

Jodi Barber and Christine Brandt
This epidemic is destroying families. Young people today should be attending high school dances and graduations not attending funerals of their classmates. This is the time for each one of US to decide what WE will we do to speak out about what is going on in our own backyards. Go to your local high school, ask what type of drug awareness program they have in their school, write your senator, clean out your own medicine cabinet, and take your old prescription pills to "drug take back days". We are way past teaching our children to "just say no". As parents and grandparents we need to learn all we can about drugs and teach our children the dangers of these highly addictive drugs.

The Barber family

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