LEARN TO SPOT THE SIGNS OF DRUG ABUSE:
When Ian was fourteen and a freshman at Norwalk High School, he and two friends were caught with marijuana in a parked car by the police. He changed from a happy boy who loved to invite his friends for sleep-overs and home-cooked spaghetti dinners to a sullen and defiant teenager. Suddenly, the kids stopped congregating at our house and we didn't know where Ian was going or what he was doing. I had him drug-tested at school, but he became very good at switching urines. We went to counseling, but Ian could fool even the doctors. We thought his behavior was part of normal adolescent rebellion, we didn’t realize they were signs of drug abuse.
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DON’T IGNORE THE SIGNS OF DRUG ABUSE:
His senior year in high school, Ian's new car, a gift from his father, was firebombed in our driveway. It was 2am. For one horrifying moment, I thought Ian was inside the car. He told me it was retaliation because he'd kissed somebody's girlfriend and I believed him. With hindsight, I can only surmise it was drug related. He was in over his head and the dealers were threatening him.
I found out after he died that Ian was doing PCP while he was still in high school. I had no idea that by October of his freshman year of college, he was using cocaine. By February of his sophomore year, he was snorting heroin. He came home at the end of that year with honors and in withdrawl. The first night he was back he couldn't sleep. By 4am, he was in Candace's room, all sweaty and fidgety. I said, "Ian, we're going to the doctor in the morning."
The doctor gave him Clonadine, the quick fix, because Ian refused to go to the hospital even though he was in bad shape. What can you do? You can't handcuff him. He was twenty years old and he wasn't going. I learned later that without the Clonadine he could have easily had a seizure and died. We were all in therapy that summer and he swore he would stay clean. If he went back to the drugs, he would have to go to rehab. That was the deal.
So the Clonadine got him off the heroin. But one day I smelled marijuana. I searched his room and found a big stash of pot. I saw red and I threw him out of the house. He went to his friend's house. Three days later, I agreed to let him come home if he would come to counselling. That's when all the cards were put on the table.
And for a while, he managed to stay clean. God gave me my son back for three months. Ian was himself again. We laughed together and played tennis. I would do my run down at the beach where he worked and we would sit and talk. He was preparing to transfer to U. Conn. Even the doctor didn't think he was at risk. But again, Ian fooled all of us. He was hurting inside and that drove him back to the drugs.
DON’T WAIT TO TAKE ACTION WHEN YOU SEE SIGNS OF DRUG ABUSE
The night before Ian died, he came to me. I knew he had relapsed. He said, "Just because I went to Hartford, you think I did drugs." I said, "Ian, did you?" He went downstairs and he was cursing and yelling. I said, "Ian, if you want my help, just ask." He came back upstairs to say he didn't want to move in with his friends as had been planned. "I want to go to the doctor in the morning," he said. "I'm sorry, Mom. Good night. I love you."
That night I slept soundly for the first time since I knew he was using heroin. I was so relieved he wanted to see the doctor. Never did I think he would do it one more time. The next morning, I got up to do my run. I heard the TV blaring from his room downstairs, went in to shut it off and found Ian lying there.
It was as if he were in a very deep sleep. His arms were outstretched, his lips slightly parted, his eyes closed. I touched him to wake him up, but he didn't move. I looked more closely and saw a little blood on his mouth. I yelled, "Ian! Wake up!" He didn't respond. I ran upstairs screaming for Larry who tried to resuscitate him. I sat there holding Ian's hand, talking to him, trying to make him hear me, but there was no pulse. There was nothing we could do. Ultimately, the drugs were stronger than he was.