The drug/medication road that we are heading down. As a young Californian teacher, I was invited to a drug (LSD included) party by an eighth grader. My innocence - shocked - even with the informed knowledge that marijuana (Mary Jane) proliferated in home parties. I replied, "Sure!" thinking as a former Minnesotan, that I was being 'taken' twice by this innocent aged 13 year old. The student replied while I stood, mouth a gaped," Well, it's on Jeremy"s land in the field behind. See you Saturday." Dumb-founded innocent me.
Fast forward a few more years later to Rochester. My innocence and societies' denial defense mechanism were more apparent. I volunteered for community service. The topic, teenage drug issues in our city. Issues and drug evaluation for governmental support and interventions. There were about six members from local services. I was the public school's teacher component. To paraphrase the committee's chairperson. "We don't have a serious problem here." I felt a cold realization flow over me. Chills in my bones like a cold coming. Addiction comes from 'bad' parents and poor home conditions. Good kids don't use drugs! BAM, hello, this is the underlying shame aspect 'raising its ugly head'.
With treatment addicted children get better, work, and play. Without help for their "unsighted" disease what will be the costs?
Take Mark, an eleven year old child on the psychiatry unit for instance. Off the unit he had often chosen not to obey his mother. She would called the sheriff's department or increased his trazodone doses. The intake hospital notes reported that she had said,"Making Mark sleep helps them all."
She had called from a local bar where she had been asked by the town drunk (police report's term) if she knew where her son was. She requested that this drunk keep Mark there until she got there. She had no idea Mark was not in his room.
In her words he had run away. Actuality, Mark had run from the bar and had been tackled in a parking lot by the drunk. A fight ensued involving onlookers who suspected the drunk of attacking the boy for sexual favors or kidnapping.
Mark's family had not been vested in the hospital program. The family appears vested in themselves, not Mark. Mark wi remain in lock-in until the police puzzle through the mixed reports. The hospital personnel filed parental protection papers, but the county stated that there was not enough clear documentation.
Oh, how hope cloaked in denial of problems hides societies' level of shame and denial of the necessity of medical costs to help these people. (The federal government estimates $700 billion a year for health care, law enforcement, and work lost. Addiction kills an estimated 28,000 a year.)
These children are not commodities. We are over-simplifying by staging war between misguided solutions of 'swat on the bottom' and the bottom line.
Am I innocent now? No!
An evolving cautionary tale!
Hey, an evolving cautionary tale, evolving may be an inadequate word choice when scientists describe the path of civilization. Addressing our roles is more accurate for society. You know, facing up to the roads our children may be on; one being drug addiction.
Sharon, a past student on psychiatry ward, age 12, with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD/CD) and suicidal (SI), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), parent-child problems and aggression toward her brother and threatening to hurt her mother. Sharon had a history of outbursts. She had transferred from another emergency unit for stabilizing and her safety. A number of times she had been found at the Marriott Hotel at 3 a.m. and at a neighbor's home and there was question of drugs.
Dexedrine was discontinued on admission with the suspicion it might be contributing to a thought disorder. Sharon remained fairly cooperative on the Inpatient Unit - no outbursts, no inappropriate behaviors and no psycho motor agitation through the weekend and Monday. She was to return to the Child and Adolescent Partial Hospital (PHP) because of her mother and Sharon's motivation to try again. Society and Sharon failed.
Sharon ran away and tried to break into her own house, but Police caught her and contacted her mother. Next day she stayed out all night to be with male peers who reportedly used drugs, alcohol, and had a history of violence.
In my classroom, I explained that each of us causes his own thoughtlessness or unrestraint with reckless abandon if we choose not to listen to ourselves. I grasped the mirror for Sharon to view herself telling her she has the capacity to view, see, and choose wisely - possibly beyond her age. (Perhaps why she flees impulsively. Now she could begin to learn how to not run away. That her mind wanted to, but that her body would not cooperate. Three other students spoke up in support. They were born this way and did not want to take dangerous drugs.
Here we took time to discuss the use of Ritalin, Conterta, and other drugs to regulate our brains' transmissions. These drugs must be monitored for each "individual brain motor". We reviewed the simile of tinkering and fine tuning automobiles as tuning for your brain and regulating the seasonal oils or drugs accordingly for our brain motor. It's not your fault, Sharon. Society has to improve the 'mechanic-isms'.
We, society, evolve to new level. We are not in the dinosaur age. As my elementary kids would say, "Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because chickens had not evolved yet."
Taking drugs wasn't a choice. Society lead them down a wrong road.
A Hope Cautionary Tale
Hope! That's the word-hope, which is why I'm blogging. How did I arrived here? A few years back, I, with the Seraphim Dancers, had performed a Dance of Hope at the Breast Cancer "kick-off" banquet held at the Mayo Clinic. Footage of our ballet movements was collected and and edited for Fred Silverman's documentary, "Living with Cancer: A Message of Hope", narrated by Ms. Anne Bancroft which aired on PBS television nationwide. As a participant in the film, I was among honored guests at its showing at the banquet.
The showing of the film ended. Applause and congratulations for all participants in the film flowed generously as we moved into the reception hall to mingle among medical dignitaries and entertainment celebrities.
Alas, much of our Dance of Hope had fallen to the cutting room floor. I had appeared on the screen about three seconds.
Three seconds? Not exactly what I expected of my television debut. But, not always are expectations met. Neither were they always met in my medical lock-in classroom where techniques included stress management, relaxation and decision-making strategies. Sometimes only three seconds for saying, "No" to drugs, alcohol, and abuse for children ages five to twelve.
These children in the child psychiatry center, entered and re-entered time and again due to medical, biological and societal circumstances. But in split seconds, one word from their psychiatrist, one caring gesture from their staff, one family response, or one lesson had become the "magic" moment that told the child someone cared.
The Silverman/Bancroft presentation had enlightened and fired me up. It struck me that my children's mental situations, caused by a "cancer" of society, often paralleled those of cancer survivors.
Hey, that's it! I'm selling hope to mothers, dads, guardians, teachers, librarians, social workers, disability instructors, and any outsiders whom called my children the "Kids from hell". I'll take my seconds of fame and use it for them .
Kaye is a teacher and author of multiple works including Valerie Valentine Visits Vincent Vampire