I guess amazement is how you could describe our foray into the criminal justice system. I mean, who knew a person could be charged, convicted and sentenced to prison for crimes committed by others. “Guilty by association,” is what I call it, the government calls it a “conspiracy.” I wasn’t aware, I guess, that the first thing in an addicts’ mind as they purchase their next high, was furthering the business of their dealer. The DEA apparently thinks that’s how it works. Those people are trained in enforcement practice, but don’t know anything about people. They look at the law and apply it to everyone in exactly the same manner.
Our hometown boys are going away, my son is going away, and they’re going to be gone a long time. It’s incredibly heartbreaking and angers us to watch those at the “top” of the conspiracy, who aren’t hometown at all, they aren’t going away at all and if they are, they’ll be home soon. They’ll start all over with different boys, maybe even in our town, community, state. Maine, Northern Maine, to be more specific. Up where you cross into Canada fairly easily and life is very remote and away from a city mentality.
Staring as the sun sets on the frozen lake in northern Aroostook county, far away from big city issues, people and even cell phone service, a long and crestfallen shadow casts on the ice as the sun turns to red and the temperature dips below freezing. My shadow, at least what resembles my shadow, except with defeated shoulders and a head the has lost the ability to hold itself up. I’m joined here by all the others, praying for their boys, praying for a shred of hope, of someone to interfere in the travesty we are all facing. Our shadows stretch long and despondently across the ice. We are dejected, tears so near the surface at each and every moment of the day. The weight of it all bringing us to levels of gloom we’ve never known. It’s been so long since we’ve seen them, hugged them or saw them smile and laugh.
I’ve worked with people with addiction most of my life, I guess that would give me an advantage over some, but honestly, it terrifies me. It’s one thing to sit in my comfortable office and help someone figure out how to work the appropriate plan to be successful, it’s another thing entirely to watch it take over my family. I recall when I was a young person myself and the biggest drug I knew about was pot. We smoked it in high school and thought we were pretty cool. Times have changed.
To be fair, alcohol is still the biggest addictive agent in our neck of the woods. So many older adults, young adults and underage men and women find alcohol the “socially acceptable” form of high. Alcoholism is rampant in family after family in Aroostook County, yet there are very few options for treatment. The same is true of drugs. The kind of drugs that our kids are experiencing is so new to us, that we are at a loss as to how to help.
I recall early in my counseling career, watching the news as heroin made its way up the coast of Maine, following Interstate 95 right onto our doorstep. The first arrest I saw was in Presque Isle, a rundown trailer home on a dead end street with a cement company at the end. Three of our young men were arrested and there was a child in the home. I was at once shocked and saddened by this. I’m sure heroin was around here before that, but here it was relatively unheard of. After that, the entire county became an epidemic of drug use.
Within only a couple of years, there were out of state license plates everywhere, our young people wandered the streets looking lost and confused. Parents, including me, searched in low income apartment complexes, remote abandoned houses and all of the “popular” places to use drugs for our kids at all hours of the day, trying to get them home and fed, and ensure they slept. These new drugs don’t let them sleep, don’t let them eat, and make it absolutely impossible to hold down a job.
A terror deep in my chest, anxiety, fearing the worst always. I’ve already lost one child, I could never lose another. I would ride the back roads at three in the morning, wondering where is my son? Hearing one thing and traipsing through snow and cold to find a place he might be. He showed up at one in the morning once, beaten and bruised. I was sure his ribs were broken, but he crawled into a warm bed and tossed and turned until the pain subsided. He’d been left in a ditch. My precious son, his vibrant blue eyes, dulled by the drug of that day, bath salts. I didn’t sleep that day, or many others but watched him and prayed with a fervor that I didn’t recognize myself for God to reach down and pull him out of addiction.
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