By Brandi Homan
You always read the headlines about senseless deaths or drug overdoses, but if you’re like me you rarely read the articles. I never did, because it all seemed so abstract.
Until about two weeks ago when I woke up and saw a text from my friend Jennifer’s little brother. “Hey, Brandi I know it’s been a while but wanted to let you know that Jennifer passed away last night. She was in a long battle with an addiction to opioids. God bless her.”
I was shocked and sat in silence for a long time. I had no words. This was not an obscure name in the paper or a statistic I didn’t relate to. This was my friend. My friend had a name – Jennifer.
It took me awhile to respond because I had a million questions. When I did talk to her family, I learned what I had always feared but didn’t accept; Jennifer became addicted 10 years ago. The family tried everything possible to help Jennifer with rehab, therapy and unconditional love. Jennifer eventually made her way in and out jail, but she would rather have gotten her next fix than get better and get clean.
My kids asked why I was upset. I wasn’t sure what to say. I used words like “heroin,” “needles,” “addicted.” They weren’t sure how to respond. I ended with “she was very sick.” This opened my eyes to the fact that I have more explaining to do with my kids.
I want to be open and honest with my kids about everything. There will be a time that I will not be around, and I hope they make the right decisions. I’m on the board for the Be Awesome Youth Coalition. We are dedicated to developing confident, connected and successful youth. Our youth will be none of these things if they become addicted to opioids.
We as parents need to teach them how to be good consumers of our medications and we need to be well informed.
Here are some tips for talking with your kids:
- Remain calm and open-mined. (They are nervous, too.)
- Avoid lecturing; be positive.
- Remind your child that you value this conversation and care about their health.
- Be honest about your own experiences as you express your desires for their decisions concerning drugs. Do not glamorize past use.
For more tips visit DrugFree.org.
Brandi Homan is a board member for Be Awesome Youth Coalition.
This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.