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In the coming weeks, The Bee will continue profiling a number of local families coming to grips with addiction and its repercussions in their own homes with support from Newtown Parent Connection.
There are countless reasons why a young person makes the decision to experiment with drugs or liquor. While a number may continue to occasionally indulge in a recreational puff or two of pot, and many others go on to drink socially through adulthood with no ill effect, those intoxicants have a decidedly different impact on others.
Some graduate to more potent drugs, self-medicating a masked mental or emotional issue, unsuccessfully chasing a greater kick, or keeping their always-looming withdrawal symptoms in check. Others turn to alcohol, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, to quell inner demons that keep them careening down their paths of self-destruction.
For those who have taken that path, Dorrie Carolan and the Newtown Parent Connection (NPC) are there with assistance to help transition addicts into effective in-patient treatment centers.
For loved ones standing on the sidelines watching what often amounts to a slow-motion train wreck with their son or daughter as the victim, the agency’s weekly Hope & Support meetings provide a facilitated, confidential venue to get information on how to handle a child’s suspected or confirmed substance use.
For those left behind when a child has sadly lost their battle, the NPC offers empathy and help through a monthly facilitated bereavement group where surviving loved ones can find some degree of solace among peers who have endured similar tragedies.
One longtime resident and local business owner who asked to be identified by a pseudonym (Mr Green) has found strength by utilizing NPC rehabilitation placement, and attending the agency’s Hope & Support meetings.
His child is currently clean and sober as a result of being incarcerated for crimes committed in the depths of a drug addiction that his father believes began during high school, with increasing visits to sneak sips from the family liquor cabinet.
“It’s been a traumatic experience for me for the past seven years,” Mr Green said. “I was really afraid I was going to lose him.”
Mr Green said the substance abuse issue that took hold of his son may have begun with innocent experimentation. But the abuse became evident at the end of his son’s freshman year at college when he flunked every class.
Instead of immediately seeking intervention for any type of substance abuse issue, however, Mr Green and his wife opted to bring their son to family counseling.
“It was for him, and we’d get involved as need be,” Mr Green said. “It wasn’t necessarily targeting his drinking.”
A middle child, Mr Green said his son was somewhat more insular than his older and younger siblings, and after several counseling sessions, he seemed to be getting worse. He racked up two motor vehicle crashes, but was never arrested or tested for intoxicants. He was eventually asked to leave the house because of his rapidly deteriorating attitude and behavior.
That departure was followed by an arrest, where police discovered crack cocaine in the vehicle.
“I don’t remember why, but we ended up taking him back in. Then we discovered that he was having drugs brought to him at our home,” Mr Green said. “We never even realized that when he would disappear downstairs, or elsewhere in the house, he was meeting his dealer who had snuck onto our property.”
That revelation resulted in a call to the police to remove his son from the family home.
At that time, Mr Green’s energies were fractured between issues facing his son, and his wife, who was in the throes of grappling with a cancer diagnosis.
Turning most of his attention to caring for his ailing wife, Mr Green would hear about reports in a local paper about his son being arrested here or there for various offenses — typically involving larceny or break-ins to support his habit. Again, Mr Green reached out to try and provide some help.
“We paid some restitution to the person whose home he broke into, on the condition that he would go to rehab,” Mr Green said.
Making The Call
Mr Green had known NPC founder Dorrie Carolan socially, but was unaware that she had established the NPC after her own son died from a drug overdose. Then one night he was channel surfing and saw Ms Carolan on television talking about her new support agency that was established to help other parents dealing with the same issues she faced in her own family.
“As soon as I saw her, I picked up the phone right away and asked her for help,” he said. “That was in 2010, and Dorrie and the Parent Connection became involved in helping connect us to an out-of-state rehab center in Florida.”
Upon his successful completion of an initial rehab stint, Mr Green gave his son a job and was overseeing his continuing rehabilitation in a clean residential living center in Danbury.
“Then I had to fire him because he came to work high. And he had to give up his rental because he was not keeping with the arrangements there — he violated a bunch of the rules,” Mr Green said. “It got really bad after that. I didn’t even know where he was living.”
Then he got a call that his son was in the hospital.
“He had been stabbed. I suspect it was a result of a drug deal,” Mr Green said. “So I got him back into another rehab situation in Florida. My wife was so sick at that point that we didn’t even tell her.”
In the ensuing weeks, Mr Green learned that his son had been in and out of rehab and sober living facilities to no avail. About a week after his wife lost her battle with cancer, Mr Green learned there was a warrant out for his son’s arrest in Connecticut.
So for a period of time, Mr Green was forced to maintain a long-distance relationship with his son, who remained in Florida.
“Once in a while he would call asking for money for food or some emergency, and for awhile I would send him $20, or $50, or $100. But I eventually realized he was not spending it for food. It was my attending the Parent Connection support groups that helped me begin to say no,” Mr Green said.
“It got to the point where my son was just using detox or rehab facilities as a roof over his head,” Mr Green confessed. “He just never grasped the program. It’s like they say: you have to be ready and open to help before you can put that help to use.
“He still thought he could beat this on his own and wanted to come home. I didn’t want to go for that, but I was teetering, so ‘hello’ — I called the Parent Connection for help,” Mr Green continued. “It was right about that time that he decided to turn himself in on the outstanding warrant.”
Advice To Parents
That was eight or nine weeks before Mr Green sat down to talk with The Bee. Today, Mr Green’s son is in line for a state-sponsored, six-month special rehabilitation program. If he is successful in completing that, his son will likely have to complete a sentence for his crime and will be released into a support system and a new job.
Mr Green is cautiously hopeful, since he believes his son hit bottom and is taking his recovery and rehabilitation with a new attitude.
But through his continuing attendance at the NPC, Mr Green has come to realize that for each other Newtown parent with a similar story, there are likely many others in denial, or who are confused or unable to cope with the prospect of getting their child help.
“I would tell other parents what I learned from Dorrie and the Parent Connection — it’s a process,” Mr Green said. “I was always a hard-nosed person, but by attending their meetings I learned a lot about what other people are going through. A lot of people who are coming to the group are dealing with children who are in their 30s or 40s. I was fortunate to get the support I needed when my child was in his 20s.
“Without the Parent Connection, their support and advice, I don’t know if I would have ever reached a point where I’m coping. So don’t do this by yourself — don’t feel ashamed — don’t blame yourself or think it’s something you’ve done,” said Mr Green. “Come get that help and address it as soon as possible…don’t wait.”
Newtown Parent Connection is currently housed at Edmond Town Hall, at 45 Main Street, but is poised to relocate to a newly renovated duplex at Fairfield Hills. The agency is planning an open house for the public at its new location on Monday, July 25, from 6 to 7:30 pm.
For information or referrals, call 203-270-1600. All calls are strictly confidential. Or click here to learn more about getting help, to volunteer, or make a donation supporting the cause.