Don’t be afraid to help a young person in trouble with drugs
I recently heard about a young man who died at 18 of drugs and alcohol. They said, "He died peacefully in his sleep." When someone dies peacefully in their sleep, he is elderly, but when an adolescent dies that way, he has been screaming for help and it is a tragedy. I understand that people honored his life and claimed that it was his path to die at 18 years young. Why would it be his path to die so young?
Drugs are insidious. I know because I lost my young son at 20 to a drug overdose. This is different but many things are the same. This young man went to a "pharm party," which I learned is where all the kids bring drugs and alcohol (who sells it to them?) to the party, place it in a bowl and play Russian roulette with their lives by reaching in the bowl and taking whatever.
My son died from heroin and crack that he took, and there was no party. I certainly had anger at the loss of my child, at his friends who did not tell me he was doing drugs again, at his great potential being cut off. I was saddened at the world that made him so angry and desperate, and furious at the drugs and what they do to our young. Yes, I did interventions and drug programs for him, and he still couldn't survive. But we must try.
We have to help our children, and our youth have to help each other to see that they are playing a deadly game, and especially that drugs poison their minds and bodies. Weren't there signs? Why didn't the parents and friends do an intervention? We are losing a generation to meth. Some of us are forced to plan for caring for this generation in the future because of the problems they will face soon from their drug use now.
My appeal is to parents to watch your kids, get them help if you see or hear them on this path. Look for the signs, including problems in school, stealing, dropping out and disappearing. My appeal is really to the youth, who are themselves taking drugs and playing with their lives. Please, you have to monitor each other and watch out for one another. Stop going to pharm parties, stop playing Russian roulette. Start intervening to save your friends and yourselves.
My generation, the hippie generation, went further than our parents, who just drank alcohol; we smoked marijuana. So we were the adult children of alcoholics, and now we have the "adult children of potheads" generation. I know many of you see no problem with smoking "herb," but it is a drug, it destroys brain cells, causes a-motivation syndrome, harms your lungs and stunts emotional development. When our kids see pot as a norm, their rebellion goes further, and they take all kinds of stuff. It's time to sober up, take responsibility and set an example for the kids so they see sobriety works and is attainable, and then give them tough love and limits and interventions when needed. Increase your credibility and make a difference.
I recently attended a memorial for a dear friend who died at 62 after accomplishing so much in his life. He helped save the aina of Maui and worked to stop the Superferry and was a brilliant international lawyer and president of Maui Tomorrow. When he died, he said he was complete.
Do you really think this young man or my son were complete and satisfied with their short lives? What would my son have accomplished if he had not been taken by the addiction of drugs? What would this young man have done with his life? Maybe he would have been a teacher and helped the youth, maybe a doctor, which we desperately need.
We have to awaken the love for each other in our youth and extend that love to assist one another to get healthy and get clean and sober. Let this young man's death stand as a reminder to his ohana to help themselves and their friends out of the drug cycle. It's a time of great tragedy and great potential emerging. Take this potential and find the light and bring it forth.
Hermine Harman, a social worker, serves on the Maui County Health Initiative Task Force and is co-chairwoman of People United to Support Superior Health Care.