By Ginger Katz, Founder of Courage to Speak
On September 10, 1996, I lost my 20-year-old son, Ian, to a drug overdose just before he was going into a rehabilitation program the next day. Ian had used marijuana, tobacco and other drugs in high school. At one point he was picked up by an officer at a park with two other boys. He was scolded and told to go home. The officer said “If I ever find you in this town again with any drugs, I will arrest you. Now go home.”
Photo of Ian three days prior to his death. Courtesy, Ginger Katz
I insisted that Ian go into counseling at that point. I had such high hopes for Ian and I thought we had caught a possible addiction early. I thought it all went away, until I received the phone call from his biological dad stating Ian was snorting heroin in college. My breath was taken away. My life changed. My friends knew there was something different about me.
At first, I was ashamed of his problem. I didn’t want to tell anyone about his drug use when he came home from college. He was going to a day treatment program and we thought his problem was being fixed. He didn’t want me to tell his Norwalk friends or his sister who did not know. The ugly truth is, the problem wasn’t fixed. I found him in the morning just before I was going to meet my friend at six am for our morning run. My son, Ian died in his sleep. Neighbors told me my cries for help to 911 were heard two blocks away.
Addiction does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are, what race you are, how financially sound you are, if you’re homeless or if you have a family who loves you dearly. It can happen to anyone. Drug addiction not only destroys the person who is using – it also destroys the family. Addiction robs you of your money, it robs you of your spirit, and finally, when you have nothing else left to give, it robs you of your soul. My son Ian was a good kind person who suffered from a terrible disease and we miss him everyday of our lives.
Addiction Advice from Ginger Katz
Every child will be asked to smoke this with me, try this pill, this won’t hurt you. Even if you think your child will never do drugs, as a parent/caregiver you have to find out what they are going to be exposed to. Bring your children to our website. Read my book Sunny’s Story, attend or book a presentation in your town and read everything you can about what your child will be exposed to and most importantly, TALK. My presentations is open to parents, grandparents, children, school administration, law enforcement and community leaders.” Ginger Katz, Founder and CEO of the Courage to Speak Foundation and author of Sunny’s Story, a drug prevention book.
Ginger Katz, CEO and Founder of the Courage to Speak Foundation and author of Sunny’s Story established the Courage to Speak Foundation, a nonprofit drug prevention organization, after losing her son Ian to an accidental drug overdose over 18 years ago. The mission of the Foundation is Saving young lives by empowering youth to be drug free and encouraging parents to communicate effectively with their children about the dangers of drugs. The Courage to Speak Foundation – a prevention education organization established programs evaluated and designed to help parents understand the impact of drug abuse on youth and gives parents the knowledge to keep their children safe from drugs and other risky behaviors.
Watch her on YouTube: Ginger Katz talks about the Courage to Speak® Foundation – Courageous Parenting 101™