by Lenny Roberts
"Jake" is a young man from an upper-middle-class
Ojai family who is facing multiple drug-related charges including
one for allegedly assaulting his mother while under the influence
of a controlled substance. His mother, who has been granted a
temporary restraining order, has consented to providing answers
to tough questions.
· When did you first become aware that your son
had a drug problem, and how did you know?
"In retrospect, my son has had a drug problem for about
five years. My awareness was severely lagging, and I did not
classify it as a problem until he was arrested the first time
this year. I thought it was a phase, something he might outgrow,
or my imagination. I felt that it was not something that could
happen to me and to our family. And I still have trouble saying
the word, 'addict.'"
· What illegal drugs do you know that he has taken,
and what other drugs do you suspect, either prescription or street
"I know that he has used the two M's: marijuana and methamphetamine.
I suspect, and his friends say, cocaine and OxyContin may be
part of the mix. I fear he has reached the point where he cannot
be very choosy about his drug of choice. My suspicion about the
variety of drugs was relaxed because this is, after all, Ojai.
I felt that he had small-town protection from the monster drugs."
· How did his drug use affect his life and those
of your family?
"The loss is slow and incremental at first, but this young
man's future has been redefined by drugs. He is a shadow of who
he was, is and could be. His talent and intelligence have become
hostages of the drugs. Now our family just hopes he can stay
alive and become healthy again. Filling in the gaps of lost education
and opportunities are a detail."
· You have four children. Why is "Jake"
is the one with the problem?
"There is no rhyme or reason in birth order, nothing that
would have jumped out at my husband or me. Same private schools,
same camping trips, same trips to Disneyland. We have always
had an intact family, with a stay-at-home mom and a participating
dad. I don't know why it was different for him."
· What was his reaction when you confronted him
with his drug use?
"My son does not believe he has a drug problem. He still
feels in control. The suggestion that he needs help made him
combative and caused him to launch into violent denials. Drugs
helped him become an eloquent liar, and I believed him for far
· Has he ever been physical with any family member?
"The words 'abuse' and 'mother' should not even appear in
the same sentence, but in our home they have. My son has been
physical with male family members and intimidating and violently
out of control with me. During these moments, he is not the son
we know; he is an addict."
· What was your most frightening drug-related moment
with your son.
"The most frightening drug-related moment with my son was
not when I felt physically unsafe loving him. It was not when
he was intimidating me for money. It was not when his friends
started to die. It was when he walked in the door and I no longer
recognized him. He was mentally, emotionally and physically lost
to himself and to me."
· Has he been arrested as a juvenile or as an adult?
On what charges?
"As a juvenile, in the 'he'll-get-over-it, boys-will-be-boys'
phase, he was cited twice for marijuana possession. As an adult
over 18, the charges have increased in severity to include possession
of meth paraphernalia, burglary, battery, and under the influence."
· How much of his problem is due to the influence
of friends? Is there any other influence that you feel might
have been a contributing factor?
"The most contributing influence may have been availability
of drugs. The influence of friends falls to choice of friends.
I wish I could blame his girlfriend, his buddies, and that is
tempting. In fact, I wish I knew where to point my finger."
· Then whom do you blame for his actions?
"I wish I knew the answer, if for no other reason than I
could share it with others. I don't care about getting myself
off the hook, about casting blame, or finding the source. I care
about stopping the mayhem."
· Is there hope on the horizon?
"If there is no hope, then our community has a huge problem.
We have the tools to deal with this problem, whether now for
my child, or later for others. We have the pastoral setting,
clinical infrastructure, caring community, government resources
and the financial support. If I cannot be hopeful, no one can."
"When my kids were young, I always knew where to go,
who to call, and always had a friend to talk to," she added.
"With drugs in Ojai, there is a code of silence between
parents, which has created a deadly information gap. If I can
call a mom to say my kid has the measles, why can't I call her
when my kid is an addict in jail? And who do I call when there
is an epidemic? I am still looking for the answer.
"Do I have any regrets? Just this; my son supported his
drug habit with money I unwittingly gave him. Money for books,
music, clothing, sports, whatever, all went to drugs. Parents
may be the ones who need to just say no."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley
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