Saturday, May 5, 2012

Behind the Orange Curtain

Last week one of my classmates and I went to see the documentary "Behind The Orange Curtain" at the Newport Beach Film Festival. I first heard about this documentary when I arrived in Orange County last summer. It's a documentary about the prescription pill epidemic in Orange County. However, this problem is not exclusive to Orange County.

 I have had a personal interest in this subject for a long time now since my own son's addiction to Opiates began with prescription pills that were prescribed by a doctor over 10 years ago. I have read many books about families who have been affected by addiction, I have attended 12 step support groups for families of Alcoholics or Addicts. I know first hand the pain that families go through when a loved one struggles with addiction. Attending this premiere was emotional for me. I have come to know and love some of the families who are featured in the documentary who have lost a child to a lethal overdose.

The evening started out with a candlelight vigil for the families who had lost a loved one. As I approached the theatre I saw the small gathering of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters listening to music as silent tears fell from their cheeks.  I felt somewhat of an intruder as I approached the small group of men and women who held lit candles in remembrance of their lost sons or daughters. I found myself drawn into the group,  the soft music and reverence of the moment lulled me in. I quickly spotted a friend, who has fought like a warrior this past year to get the word out to young people about how dangerous these drugs are. She has put her grief aside to go to schools and tell teens her story and to relive the loss of her son every time she speaks. This night, she is a grieving mom, this night, she is here to honor her son. I went to her side and put my arms around her. I was filled with emotion. How is it that my boy is still here? How is it that my boy walked in the darkness of his Addiction for the last 10 years and survived? I am constantly reminded that the line between life and death is so incredibly thin when drugs are involved. One bad hit, one too many pills, one deadly combination of drugs and alcohol and our lives are forever altered.

Then it was time for the documentary to begin. I sat next to a handsome young man and asked what brought him out to see this movie. He mentioned that he knew my friend who gives the talks at schools, he said that he was a friend of her sons. He then went on to explain that he is addicted to Heroin and that my friend is helping him get into a rehab. The next hour and a half I watched as the forlorn faces of mothers and fathers told the story of the personal hell their family experienced the night of  their child's overdose. The moment the call came that changed the course of their lives forever. My mind kept flashing between my son and the young man sitting next to me. I was reminded of my own fear everytime my son didn't come home at night and how I would jump out of my skin everytime the phone would ring. Each time I saw another parent on the screen I thought that could be me, that could be this boys mom or dad.

 It was a difficult night. Many of the faces of the parents on the screen were faces that I had seen earlier in the evening at the candlelight vigil or standing in line. They don't look much different from you or me on the outside but inside there is a hole that will never be filled. Every morning they wake up to the reality that their child is gone. They will never be able to hear the sound of their childs voice again. No more "I love you's". The bedroom at the end of the hall is filled with childhood memories and an emptiness that will never be filled. The lost love of their loved one can never be replaced.

When the movie ended and the screen turned black I I turned to the boy sitting next to me and said, "please, don't give up, please keep fighting to free yourself from this deadly disease", but I know from my experience with my son, that the pleading words of a parent or loved one are barely heard through the roar of addiction that will call this young man back into the darkness if he doesn't get help soon.