A Mother’s Warning to Parents Regarding Drugs
Written by: Ashley Holmes Poor
As a parent of various aged children, I know all too well many of the worries that go hand-in-hand with being a parent. As mothers, our first worry is if we’re doing everything right to have a healthy baby, everything in our power to make sure we carry that baby to full term. You soon move into the toddler years where bumps and bruises are abundant. Before you know it, their first day of school is here and the worries we face as parents intensifies tenfold. Will they be okay? Will they make friends easily? How will they make it through the day without me? There’s usually a lull for a few years and then you hit the tween years. Oh, the drama of “tweeners”. Not too much longer and you suddenly have a teenager in your house. Now you’re not only faced with laziness and attitude, you are probably nowhere near being prepared for all of the hidden worries of raising a teenager. They are clearly their own species. You don’t lose the urge to protect those precious children who you swore were in the womb just a few months ago…yet they want their own space. Finding that balance can be tricky. You’re no longer their hero in most cases, but the most embarrassing adult to walk the face of the planet! Even if their friends think that you’re awesome, they most likely don’t. There are exceptions to every rule, but being a knowledgable parent ensures that this problem is kept to a minimum. I’m a fairly young parent, so I thought things might be a little easier at this point in my children’s lives. Boy, was I wrong! Things have changed so much in just the last 5-10 years, and with our world changing so fast, how do we keep up? We are a completely different generation after all. The problem that we face, is that we as parents should bring our A game and know everything we can about what our children face in their lives away from us. It’s hard to do that, but not impossible.
As of recent, Paris has seen more than its fair share of young people’s lives being adversely affected by “bath salts”. Bath salts should not be confused with the powdery substance that you add to your bath water. “Bath salts” are labeled that they’re not for human comsumption, but our children are still buying into them being safe. Yet they are far from it. People of all ages are dying because of the side effects of bath salt usage. Some people are not dying from using them, but had some very close calls! Lloyd Harrell is one of these teenagers. Lloyd is like many local teenagers on the outside. He comes from a blended family with two older brothers. He has a niece that he adores. He starting playing football in the 5th grade at Detroit where he also played basketball. He was a member of the Boy’s Club and played football for Paris in the 7th and 8th grade. He had house rules that he was expected to follow just like everyone else. Respect was the biggest rule in the house; he wasn’t allowed out on school nights and he followed a curfew on the weekend. He was expected to help out around the house and get good grades. Lloyd moved to North Lamar in the 8th grade and made some new friends. That’s when everything started to change for him. Truancy, smoking pot and a bad attitude soon followed. After finding himself in truancy court and receiving an ultimatum from a good friend, it looked like he was finally getting his life back in line. He was on bath salts from April 23rd until the 2nd week of June when he went to truancy court. Lloyd did great and stayed clean until July 23rd, when he got back in touch with his old friends. The day that changed his life forever was August 23rd, 2011. Lloyd’s mother, Peggye, was kind enough to give me her story so that maybe other mothers would never have to go through what she has.
The day that Lloyd overdosed started out much like any other day for Peggye. She was at work at T.G. Givens Elementary. Her husband, Lloyd’s step-father, left the house at 7:15am. Lloyd had just came out of his room saying that he’d had trouble sleeping. Now they know that this was a lie to cover the bath salt usage. At this point, Lloyd began preparing some breakfast. When Lloyd was on bath salts, he wouldn’t eat, so Peggye saw this as a good sign. He had the “sunken” look, but mom just overlooked it thinking it was from his lack of good sleep. They found out later that he didn’t eat the eggs he had cooked. About 10am, Lloyd’s sister-in-law came over to the house. She and Lloyd counted out some change to get a cigar and Lloyd went to the store to get it. The employee at the gas station noticed that Lloyd was sweaty and breathing heavy. He said something to Lloyd about it, but he blew it off. Around noon, Lloyd went to the guest house to take a nap. That was the last time that anyone saw him before he overdosed and was found in a pool of blood around 4pm. It took the EMS over 30 minutes to bring Lloyd back. Peggye met her son at the hospital. After leaving him that morning when he was fine, it was “surreal” walking into the hospital and seeing her son with tubes everywhere. Peggye said that the first three days were a blur and reality didn’t sink in until about the third day. Lloyd went into the hospital on death’s bed and is now thriving in a drug rehabilitation center. This young man is lucky to be alive and he is now advocating against bath salts. He has said that he doesn’t want anyone else to go through this.
Lloyd is just one of the more recent occurances. There have been many local children affected by this epidemic. Peggye Harrell kindly gave some advice on how to help your kids to make good choices. Drug testing randomly is the main thing that Peggye wanted parents to know. You may think that this dissolves the trust, but in reality, it gives your child a valid reason to be able to tell their friends “no”. If they can tell their friends, “no, my parents drug test me”, then they are far less likely to do drugs. Be sure to follow up and actually do a random drug test though! These are available in the Wal-Mart pharmacy and are fairly inexpensive. Knowing your child’s friends and their parents is also a good idea. Never underestimate your kids! If you see any red flags, don’t hesitate to jump on it and get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Listen to your gut feelings and remember that they are your child and your job is to be their parent, not the friend! Children will also thrive if they’re given a purpose in life. No matter what that purpose may be. Find something that your child is passionate about and help them to fulfill their dreams. All kids, especially teenagers, are extremely persistant. They will try and wear you down to where you just give into them. Don’t second guess yourself. Stick to what you say and don’t let them change your mind. Kids have the mentality that bad things won’t happen to them. So they’ll still want to do dangerous things and will do everything in their power to get their parents to let them.
The hard part of knowing if your child is on bath salts is that everyone reacts differently to them. They may have the sunken look, bad attitude, violent outbursts, weight loss, change in sleep patterns and many many other symptoms. However, they may not have any symptoms at all! Drugs in any form is an expensive habit, so constantly wanting money and not having anything to show for it is also something to look for. The first sign that children are going down the wrong path, is usually that they never want to be at home. They always want to be at friend’s houses “because their house is so much more fun”. As parents, we try to keep the peace and let our children try to be their own people. They are still just children and need guidance though. Kids need rules and boundries. They are going to fight you when you try to lay down the law, but be persistant about your rules and don’t let them slide. Be consistent with your family rules and never back down. Doing odd jobs and volunteer work is a great way for kids to stay busy and gain some much needed self esteem.
If you think your child may be using bath salts or any other drugs, there are resources to help you. North Lamar has started a new program called Zone 32. It’s a safe place that children can go and get the help they need for free and with full confidentiality. Other local school districts are beginning to start their own programs as well. It’s understandable to want to keep quiet so that other people don’t judge you or your child, but getting the help your child needs is the most important thing. Speak up and find the program that works best for your child and your family. You can’t change what happened in the past, but you can make things better for the future.