By KEVIN NEVERS
While the drug workshop convened Monday night by the Chesterton Town Council
was not without a certain amount of hand-wringing and lamentation—as might
have been expected—the public did give members exactly what they had wanted:
ideas, some of them excellent, practical, and easily implemented.
•Julie Brown, the mother of two recovering addicts, recollected her feelings
of isolation and despair when she could no longer deny the “disease” which
had infected her household. “If I had known I wasn’t totally alone, I
wouldn’t have felt helpless,” she said. Her solution: compile a list of the
names of parents whose children are addicts or recovering addicts and who
would be willing to give counsel, advice, and support to families
confronting the disease for the first time. Make that list available to
every counselor in the Duneland School Corporation (DSC), to the
Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce, and to the Chesterton town hall.
•Chamber Executive Director Laurie Franke-Polz—one of the founding members
of the Community Action Drug Coalition (CADC)—went one better. Ask the
families of recovering addicts, “Where are you getting help?” Compile a list
of every treatment center and recovery program available in the three
counties, in the region, and in the state. And—again—make that “hotline”
available to the DSC and at the Chamber and the town hall.
•David Canright, managing editor of the Chesterton Tribune, urged the
council to establish, along the lines of the Tri-Town Committee, a permanent
and tax-supported drug task force, comprised of representatives of
Chesterton, Porter, and Burns Harbor and possessed of its own budget.
•Cathy Murphy, whose son has been fighting addiction for years, wants to see
pressure applied to the DSC to open its classrooms and auditoriums to
recovering addicts. To date the DSC has been hesitant to do so, but Murphy
and others—among them Chesterton Police Commission Joe Wagner—believe that
children who snidely and smugly dismiss an anti-drug message when delivered
by adults may be more inclined to listen when they hear it from their peers.
•Everyone agreed that Duneland desperately needs a rehabilitation facility.
Franke-Polz noted that CADC is in the process of raising funds for one and
invited the public to participate in the coalition’s Walk Away from Drugs, a
walk-a-thon scheduled for 9 a.m. April 17 at the Coffee Creek Watershed
Preserve. For more information call Kathy DeWitt at 464-4668 or Dr. Mann
Spitler at 464-9588.
•Greg Granado made the point that pushers don’t really need to sell drugs:
drugs sell themselves. The council, on the other hand, has to work harder
than the pushers do—in fact members need to go door to door—if it wants to
enlist the community’s support. “You need to walk to the houses and sell the
anti-drug,” Granado said. Two of three members of the Porter Town Council in
attendance Monday, Bill Sexton, R-1st, and Jenny Granat, R-2nd,
enthusiastically voiced their support for Granado’s suggestion, as did
Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals Member Kim Goldak.
•The Duneland Community Church has already taken matters into its own hands
by contracting with the Power Team, one of the nation’s top groups of
motivational speakers, to conduct a series of assemblies at Chesterton
Middle School from 7 to 9 p.m. May 5-7. The Power Team will speak on such
subjects as substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, and suicide. Phil Criswell
emphasized that the assemblies are not church events and that the public is
welcome. But, he added, the Power Team does not come cheap and Duneland
Community Church could use some financial support. Call Bill Dishman at
926-3827 or Rick Wheeler at 926-2404.
•Some of the ideas were more in the form of pleas. The plea of Sandy
Armstrong, for instance, mother of an addict currently residing at the Lake
County Jail, for employers to give recovering addicts the opportunity—a
second chance or a third chance—to make something of themselves. “He’s 27,”
she said. “He could still turn his life around. But he thinks his life his
over because no one’s going to give him a chance.”
•The plea of Jan Pool for parents to open their eyes. “My kid’s not doing
drugs,” parents like to think. “My kid’s in this activity, in that activity.
People would be shocked if they knew what their kids are doing and getting
away with,” she said.
•And the plea of Gus Brown, Julie’s husband, for parents never ever to
abandon hope when their children come home with a habit. When he and his
wife would tell their friends of their sons’ addiction, Brown said, the
response was just this side of dismissive, condescending, and resigned. “Oh,
what a shame,” the Browns commonly heard. “I felt like a parent who had just
learned his child had cancer and was going to die.” But the Browns sons did
not die, they recovered, and no family faced by this disease should ever
indulge in hopelessness. “It is possible to have a life again,” he said.