To the Editor:
It was about seven years ago – now that I have 20/20 vision I can see just how it all went down. My daughter is now 23 years old, it started when she was about 16.
Drugs are what happened, and they almost took her life.
Our lives have been on a roller coaster for all of those years, the new normal was called chaos. Almost every day was a heart-stopping drama, it’s hard to believe we even survived.
At first I was guarded and silent, crawling into a shell to hide my shame, my failure at being a good parent. This went on for a while, until I just couldn’t take it anymore.
It was everywhere, hitting the best and worst of families, it did not discriminate. Then I realized my silence and other parents’ silence was KILLING these kids … OUR kids.
So I armed myself with knowledge, I learned all there was to know about opiates, addiction, mental illness, the local drug scene. Along the way I have made some enemies, as can be imagined, but I didn’t mind, I was saving my little girl’s life.
But boy did it take a long time!
Finally after exhausting all of the treatment centers in our area we found New Life Home for women and children in New Hampshire. This is where she is now, with our granddaughter, safe and sound and drug-free. This rehab is so very different, it is successful! At New Life she has just that – a new life!
They run on donations alone, not asking the residents or their families for any financial aid. They have an 85 percent success rate (the average rehab has a 15 percent success rate). So this actually helps my cause of being outspoken about drug addiction.
I believe we need to get this out into the open; the silence and shame is killing, on average, six kids a day in Florida alone.
I am out in the public every day, I talk about it to everyone and anyone who will listen, or who needs to talk about it. Also, I fundraise for New Life. This season here in Boca Grande I have raised over $10,000, thanks to some wonderful caring folks who understand just how important this is.
The opiates I refer to are not street drugs, they are in our homes and handed out by our doctors like candy. We have a different kind of drug dealer now.
Because of my drug education, I see lots more than the average mom. I have seen drug deals going on right here on Park Avenue, one father getting his fix while his daughter was sitting in the golf cart. I can tell who uses, I can see the damage done. I am not silent.
Gail Cleveland, co-owner of Smart StudioBoca Grande
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