Chesterton Tribune

Citizens offer anti-drug ideas

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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.

 

 

Posted 3/23/2004