This past Saturday, Flower Mound, Highland Village, and Lewisville came together to begin a Community Conversation about drugs. As one panelist observed, if you can’t start early, start today. I agree, just because we did not start yesterday or last year is no reason not to start now and Saturday, we began.
We learned the drug threats today are different than what we may have experienced growing up. Pot is six to eight times stronger than the joint we saw in our high school parking lot. Highly potent and addictive pharmaceutical drugs are easily available in our home medicine cabinets. Heroin, once thought to be a drug of the city, is readily available here in suburbia. Additionally, we learned that too many of our kids, in our neighborhoods, are overdosing and dying.
Part of our event featured personal stories. We heard from Felicia, a charming woman, who told us about her daughter’s struggles with addiction. We also met Nathan, a Marcus graduate who loved drugs until he figured out they did not love him back. We cheered when he announced that last week, marked four years of being clean. Kyle and Jess also shared their personal addiction stories, and are working each day to find purpose in their lives that does not include drugs.
We heard educators respond to questions and we learned that what many thought would be easy answers, are full of complications. We were challenged to shift the conversation from blame and mistrust to collaboration. If parents and educators work together, more progress can be made, more quickly. Left unanswered is how this shift will be accomplished.
The last panel was a group of professionals who work with young people and their families, helping and supporting them through recovery. There are many different approaches, but as we heard from Nathan, the person has to be ready to accept help. Until that time, families must keep trying, and those families need to be supported by their friends and neighbors.
We heard parents must be strong and brave enough to be parents first, and friends later. Yet we were cautioned to avoid judgment, because sometimes it doesn’t matter what happens at home, drugs will find a person and just grab hold.
We wrapped up the day by asking some questions. What made sense? What did not? And most importantly, where do we go from here? How do we keep the conversation going?
As we cleaned the room, I was told about a father who attended. He came, looking for answers and help because he had just learned that one of his kids had a drug problem. He left having received both answers and the assurance of help.
This gentleman made the months of work and preparation worthwhile. This family is why the conversation must continue.
In closing, I want to express my appreciation for all the panelists and groups who participated, the sponsors who made the day possible, the volunteers who helped prepare the venue, and to everyone who attended.
Going forward, the conversation must continue, lives at stake.