Sunday, April 03, 2005

Talk To Your Kids About Drugs

The San Antonio News Gazette has a good story about how important it is for parents to talk to their kids about drugs:
Ginger Katz was about to head out for her 6 a.m. run when she noticed son Ian's television was still on in his basement bedroom. This was the day he had agreed to check himself into rehab for a heroin addiction he had acquired his sophomore year in college.

When she entered her son's room, he was dead, his body cold.

Ian, a former soccer star, had apparently decided to do one more dance with his drug of choice and overdosed.

"You don't want to hear the sound a mother makes when she loses a son," says Katz, speaking by telephone from her home in Connecticut. "It's an unnatural sound, a horrible sound."

Although Ian died eight years ago, the pain is still fresh for Katz, who went on to found The Courage to Speak Foundation, for which she travels the country, teaching kids and adults about the dangers of substance abuse.

"This is my cross to bear, and I will carry it the rest of my life," she says.

The last time Kate Patton saw her beloved daughter, Kelley, was on Nov. 3, 1999 - Patton's birthday. The family had a lovely time together, then Kelley left her Rolling Meadows, Ill., home for the East coast to catch a Bob Dylan concert with friends.

Eleven days later she was dead, overdosed on the club drug Ecstasy.

"When the police came I thought she had died in a car crash or something," says Patton. "When they told me it was Ecstasy, I was totally blown away. I had no idea of what had taken my daughter's life, not a clue."

Like Katz, Patton has since educated herself and started her own nationwide program called the Kelley McEnery Baker Foundation to warn youth and their parents on the dangers of drug addiction.

The two women share another similarity: Neither initiated in-depth and ongoing discussions with their children about the evils of substance abuse, falling prey to the "it can't happen to my child" syndrome. While they did talk some, the conversation about drugs wasn't a concerted, serious effort, and it didn't start early on, before the teen years hit.
Katz and Patton have the same lament that most parents have when their kids die from drugs: Why didn't I talk with my child about drugs? My film is designed to help parents have this all-important conversation. Lots of parents have thanked me for how well it works. There's a summary of the Voice of the Victims approach here.

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