I spent months researching for this article in Diablo Magazine on the rise of prescription drug abuse amongst suburban teens. I interviewed mothers whose honor roll/athlete sons and daughters became slaves to their addictions. I interviewed teens who gave up their dreams of college and professional careers to live “one day at a time.” I was awed by their courage and willingness to speak out. They do not want any one else to go through what they have. And if you think it is “there,” think again. It is here, wherever your here is. Please read it, share it, and talk with others about it. Thank you.
You might recognize Ann Le Veille of Danville because so many of us are like her. She is a devoted mom who has focused almost all of her time on her family. She volunteered in her children’s schools, chauffeured her kids to their many activities, and was active in her church. Still in love with the man she’d married decades before, she thought she had the perfect life. And then her teenage daughter got hooked on prescription pain medications, and Le Veille realized nothing would ever be the same.
“Chelsea was a happy, social girl in elementary and middle school. Then she hit high school, and soon things began to change. The pressure to get top grades, to be popular, to be on the fast track for admission to a top college was overwhelming,” Le Veille says. So, she took her daughter to a doctor who prescribed Klonopin for Chelsea’s anxiety. Little did Le Veille know that would be the gateway drug to addiction.
The antianxiety medicine worked. Chelsea felt better, and things seemed to calm down. What Le Veille didn’t realize was that Chelsea liked the feeling of relief so much, she moved on to other pills, including Vicodin, Xanax, and finally, OxyContin. Soon, Chelsea’s grades were slipping, and she started hanging out with a new group of kids. “I knew something was wrong; I just didn’t understand what,” Le Veille says.
Within about six months, Le Veille’s daughter became so addicted, she would do anything for the next high. Chelsea stole pills from friends’ parents’ medicine cabinets and from anyone who had a prescription, and when those sources dried up, she turned to dealers to keep her buzzing. She got caught stealing jewelry from a store to pay for her habit. After many unsuccessful attempts to get Chelsea off pills, Le Veille and her husband felt forced to throw her out of the house. Their beloved daughter ended up on the streets.
“The drugs won,” says Le Veille. “The only way we could survive was if we went on without her. One of the worst days of my life was when I saw my ragged, barefoot daughter at a local gas station. She was living in the car of a friend, eating candy and potato chips to stay alive. I felt like I was in this movie of someone else’s life. I never dreamed it could happen to me.” Read more…