Wednesday, 30 January 2013

An Island Problem

My son was not always an addict. He was a little boy once with hopes and dreams.
We can't predict!

Dear Friends,

In a couple of days, this blog will be a month old. Since its creation, it has had almost 10,000 views. Thank you for your visits and support. YOU are making a difference.

Creating this blog felt like the right thing to do, and I have no regrets. The odd time, though, as I am posting something personal about our family, a little voice asks me if I am doing the right thing. Am I going to make a difference in Islanders minds and hearts, or will this come back to hurt my family - mainly, my son - if I can't break down the stigma of addiction? In the end, though, I continue on with my posts because I know that things will never change in the face of silence.  The voices of the voiceless need to be heard if things are going to change for the better. 

My son and I want to stop the spread of addiction by ensuring that adequate help is available for those already addicted, and that well-developed prevention programs are in place to educate students and empower them to say no to drugs. As my son says, "If they never try it, they will never know what they are missing, and that is better than living like this." 

The thoughts of another person and their family going through this keeps me up at night. It is an unbelievably painful journey. If my words can prevent one person and one family from this nightmare, it is all worth it. If my postings can make one person feel less alone, it is worth it.  If my messages can make the "unlovable" feel loved, it is worth it.  Addicts will not get better because we judge them. They will get better because, as a society, we care about (and for) them.

I want to save my child. I want to save your child. I want to save future children. It takes a village to raise a child and it requires every person in the village. It is no longer enough to put your head in the sand and sit back in judgment. It won't help to solve the problem. Neither will silence and so I speak up in the hopes of empowering others to speak up too.

Many of my friends have heard me say that no amount of stigma or judgment will ever hurt as much as watching my son slowly kill himself, knowing that there isn't anything I can do about it except love him, be there when he wants to get help, and pray. It will also never hurt as much as seeing my son suffer the serious consequences of a decision he made as a teenager to try drugs for the first time.

When someone tries drugs, they have no idea the effect it will have on them and some people get hooked right away. Try telling that to a teenager who feels invincible and is curious about things. My son will pay for the rest of his life for a decision that he made at such a young age, before the thinking/reasoning part of his brain was fully developed.

In many of the news stories about young people committing crimes to feed their addictions, you always see comments such as, "where are the parents?", "parents need to parent", "this is the parents fault", etc.  As a parent who loves my children so much I would die for them, these comments are like little knives being jabbed into my heart and twisted around for good measure. They also show me that I have a lot of work to do!

Through this blog, I hope to break down the stereotype that addicted people have bad parents. It simply is not true. Yes, some addicted people have parents who are not great, but many more have good parents. If it was parenting, all good parents would have good kids who do no wrong, and all bad parents would have bad kids who do wrong. It doesn't work that way.

Think back to when you were a teenager. You likely drank alcohol and your parents likely never caught on. Does this mean that you were a bad kid and your parents were negligent? Of course not! It just means that you were doing what most teenagers do, and your parents trusted you so didn't feel the need to act like prison wardens.  If prescription drugs were as easily accessible as they are today, you may have tried them as well, and your life story – as well as your family’s – may have been much different.

When forming opinions about situations today, we can no longer look through the lenses of our own childhoods. Our society - and culture - has changed drastically, most especially in the past 10 to 15 years. Our streets are not safe like they used to be. There are a lot of drugs around. When I was a teenager in the late 80's, I was parked on a main street in a small town in PEI. A guy came up to me and asked if I wanted to buy some weed. I was shocked, and I mean shocked. To this day, I still remember that guy who wore acid washed blue jeans, high top sneakers, and a white muscle shirt while carrying a denim jacket on his arm. I remember seeing him crossing the street and walking toward my car and then knocking on the window.  This memory is etched in my brain.

Do you think kids today would find this type of interaction with a drug dealer so shocking?  Most would not. This type of interaction is a daily occurrence for today's youth, and the item being sold is not only weed; it is also prescription drugs. We have a lot of work to do to fix this mess, and we owe it to our kids to make sure it gets done.

Thank you for visiting this blog. I hope that you will continue to join me in getting informed about addiction and working to save our youth. I welcome your comments on any of my postings, and invite you to share my blog with your friends and family so that we can reach even more Islanders. Please don't assume you know who needs to see this blog. We all do. This is an Island problem.

God bless,


  1. Rose, I so agree with your blog, there is not one thing I disagree with. You see I walked down this path with my Grandson Christopher, he tried weed when he was 16 and alcohol then went on to pers. drugs and when they got too expensive he went to heroin.I tried and tried to get him into a good treatment program but they were all way too expensive so they would not take him. So he died of a drug overdose 2 years ago, and it was not because he wasn't loved or had bad parenting.My life will never be the same without him I miss him every single day. Thank you for all you do. Ginny

    1. Dear Ginny, I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved grandson, Christopher. What an awful lot of pain to bear for you and your family. I can't imagine. I pray to God everyday that my son won't die. Addiction is a terrible disease. I am sorry that your family had to experience it, too, and that your grandson lost his life to it. How very sad. xo

    2. Rose, the one good thingthat came out of this was that Christopher was an organ donor. I have been in contact with the lady that got his kidney and pancreas, these organs saved her life and she now has a grandson named Christopher. She didn't think she would live to see her grandson born as there was nothing the Dr.'s could do for her. So a little part of my Christopher lives on. I pray that no other family ever has to go through this horrible pain. It is truly a life long sentence, my Christopher was only 22 years old.. God Bless you and your family and I will pray for your son. Ginny

    3. good stuff! well done!

  2. Hi Rose,

    Before anything else, please let me say that I come from a family of addicts and I have compassion for both the family and the addict and know it's a hard and difficult road. We are not from this beautiful island, yet I have an 18 year old son and 3 year old twins that will continue to grow up and navigate their lives here. I can't speak to the prescription drug issues because I have so far not had a problem with that on the island in my family. What I will speak to is the alcohol and marijuana issue.

    First, my opinion of alcohol and marijuana is that they are one in the same. Just because liquor is sold in a store and regulated and taxed doesn't make it a better's actually worse than pot on many levels. Having said that, this island has a very unhealthy acceptance of drinking that does indeed start with the parents in many cases. The number of drunk drivers is unbelievably high and the numbers of those caught isn't including those that aren't,Those adults are often someone's parent. I was truly shocked to realize the number of adult drunk drivers here, it's not like it's teenager or young adults that made a few bad choices like I clearly did as a kid. I did drive drunk and I grew up and had kids and realized what a mistake it was and how lucky I was that I never harmed anyone. These are people in their 40's, 50's, 60''s a lifestyle.

    That being said, the parents I have encountered on the island are buying liquor for their kids and rationalizing it by saying that they are only getting them a small amount so that they know how much they will be drinking. ??? You are buying alcohol for your underage's illegal and it's a wink and a nod to them. Even those who aren't buying liquor for their kids are going out at 3 am and picking their drunk, underage kids up at parties saying that they want to make sure that they don't get in the car with a drunk driver to get a ride home. It's not like they are being scolded or punished for being drunk or having their parents come out in the middle of the's all prearranged and allowed.

    I agree that our kids don't live in the same society as we did as children, but I will say that the rules that applied to me growing up should still be applied to our children now. I wouldn't have dreamed of asking my parents to buy me booze and these are addicts I grew up around. I wouldn't have dreamed of calling them at 3 am to come get me from a party unless it was a dire emergency. Sure, I went out and drank and partied when I was an underage teenager, but I got my own rides, figured out how to get home or stayed at someone's house, I certainly didn't involve my parents because I would have been punished severely. I am not saying they wouldn't have come to get me, they certainly would have. I will say that they wouldn't have been accepting of it on a regular basis and then making me pancakes in the morning with a smile on their faces acting like nothing happened.

    What I have said is not meant to diminish the pain or the struggle that any parent or child is going through regarding addiction. Many children will grow up to be addicts that never experienced these enabling activities in their childhood. I am also not saying 'blame it on the parents', but I am saying that setting a good example for your children and not having the misinformed idea that drinking liquor isn't a gateway to other drugs is important. I do think that there needs to be more support here for addiction and more education. I wish you the best and certainly think you are doing a good thing with your blog.

    Best Regards

  3. Love your blog....unfortunately, not just an Island problem. But every province needs advocates like you. Nova Scotia has Amy Graves. You ladies are heros in the the shadows of your loved ones whom this addiction has taken. But they do not go in vein because of all the work you do for awareness "because" of them. They are with you for the fight, from the otherside :) Fallen Rose (from FB)

  4. What I would love to hear is what is the solution, what can be done. There have to be experts and stats on this. My son is young and I have time. What should be done at an early age to set the foundation? What would an addict say to their parents before the addiction started? Do they need more activities after school? More family time? To see what drug addiction looks like? What? It really is one of the scariest things about high school to me. We have been hearing about the dangers of drugs since I was in school, in the 80's. The message is not working. We need a different message.


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