I am really pissed

by Jenny Derr

Our youngest on the left, daughter in the middle and Billy whom we lost in April 2016 to overdose

Another young life was taken this week–death as a result of an unintended overdose. 

He was a close friend of our youngest son.  I last saw him at the Celebration of Life for another young man who also died of an overdose this past summer.  What the f**k?  How many more lives will we lose before we all wake up?

I speak as a part of an initiative driven by the US Attorney’s office.  Our program is called Silent No More on substance misuse and we speak to high schools and middle schools, normally having a program for the students during the day and then another in the evening for parents. 

This is what our parent attendance looked like in Richmond, Virginia area schools:  

  • Varina HS, none
  • Glen Allen HS-3
  • Freeman HS-15
  • Deep Run HS- 20
  • Cosby HS-18

You get the gist. 

Very, very low parent participation. 

Why?  I am genuinely curious about why? 

Do parents get turned off thinking it’s just about Opiates?  Do they think it’s “not their kid” so not their problem?  Do you think you already know everything? 

I would really love feedback on this.  No kid starts with heroin.  They start with drinking, then maybe weed.  (And if your kid is “Juuling” or vaping, it’s highly likely they are also smoking weed.)  Or someone gives them a pill leftover from having their wisdom teeth pulled, or a leg fracture. 

And this is the scary part… the stuff on the street is KILLING OUR KIDS.  Fentanyl is being laced in everything including marijuana!  Your kid thinks they are taking an Oxy, it’s fentanyl.  The weed out there is nothing like what was around when we were in high school.  It is exponentially more potent and being laced with other substances. 

Cannabis-induced psychosis is on the rise. Kids are ending up in psych wards in unprecedented numbers.  And if you think this is overly dramatic, it isn’t.   Just ask the mother who looked at her son’s bloody fingers, from where he tried to claw out of his hospital room thinking he was Jesus and that he could save the other patients. 

It’s real. 

This isn’t my normal type of post.  This is a weird and scary time.  My heart is broken for another family who will never see their sweet child’s smile again.  And who can’t even have a gathering of friends and family to support them because we are all in isolation?  My heart is especially broken for my son, who has had more loss in his 20 years than most people my age. 

I would love to hear from any parent of a middle or high schooler.  You can private message me on FB.  How do we change our messaging to get parents to come to the programs?  I can tell you that every parent that has come has learned something.  I am just very sad.

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Jenny Derr

Jenny Derr is an active advocate for substance use disorder

2 thoughts on “I am really pissed”

  1. I have been doing this for over 20 years. Never once have I had a good turnout at a school event; rarely do the principals welcome these events (there are exceptions and that is awesome). I’ve decided I will spend my energy where it is wanted. People are always telling me, “Get in the schools.” I agree. But until the schools are eager and asking, there is much to be one for people who really want the education and support. But I do not get over my frustration about this. Ever.

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