It is refreshing to go and speak to students about drugs use and addiction. It is also very hard.
It is emotional for me to stand in front of all those students and recount all we went through. I can only speak to what happens to a person and family when someone becomes addicted. I am very clear to these students I have no idea what it is like to be an addict. But I do know what an addict goes through and what the family and any loved one endures while someone so dear is addicted to drugs.
I stand in front of up to 30 students and I can feel 60 eyes focused on me. It is hard to relive the horrors. Every time I tell the stories it is like yesterday. I talk about that addicts overdose. I tell of Alex's episodes. I tell of our friends son and his death in January this year. I made him a cradle 31 years ago, the first night he ever spent at home with his parents he slept in that cradle. I show the picture a mother sent me 4 years ago and ask me to show the students what an overdose looks like in an emergency room and then I show her sons picture and that last year he died from drugs, 22 years old. A picture of him when he was 18 in an emergency room and he lives through it that time but in June 2012 he didn't.
I'm not to strong or so tough that I won't admit my voice cracks when I share my fears. In front of students maybe that isn't what you're suppose to do but I can't help it, it still hurts even with a son in recovery for over 3 years. In every group I tell the students this is personal for me, this is my son and our family I am talking about but I want for them to learn and no matter what I say never doubt that I love my son and have always been proud to call him my son, even during the horror.
Students listen to me. I see it in those 60 eyes. I see sadness hearing my story. I see tears on their cheeks at times, they smile when I talk about his recovery. Questions are ask of me to clarify sometimes. The hardest time is when a student shares their own experience with a brother, a sister, a parent or relative. When one of their own tells their own story and it is just as hard for them as it is me. They share with tears running down their cheeks, everyone in the room is moved. But, the real story is after class when students gather around to hug and comfort their classmate.
This is why I take my time to speak to these young people. I am one of the luckiest people on Earth. My son is in recovery. I am grateful that teachers see the value in helping their students become educated on the horrors of drug addiction and allow me to talk in their classroom. I have two more schools scheduled and an inquiry from another school.
Am I making a difference, I hope so.