Pubdate: Sun, 09 Jan 2005
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2005 The Eagle-Tribune
Author: Gabrielle Bradley
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


On Oct. 22 of last year, Officer Lori Cameron had the hideous  assignment of
coming to our house and notifying us that our son, our darling  Robert, was
dead. In Malden. Drug overdose was the suspected cause of death.  Three
months later the medical examiner's office reported to us that the autopsy
revealed high levels of morphine in his system.

Morphine? Isn't that what they  give to cancer patients in the end
stages of their terrible and painful disease? Morphine? Who willingly
takes morphine?

Why would anyone take morphine? When Mrs. Hurwitz asked us to speak
tonight, I was pretty sure I couldn't do it. Couldn't stand here and
face you with my sadness, my guilt, and my catastrophic sense of failure.

The failure of a mother to keep her son alive.  What can I possibly
tell you about raising teenagers?

Clearly the Bradleys are not a model to follow.

But perhaps by just standing up here and being honest with you,
something will be gained.

I don't know.

Robert's friend, Brad McLaughlin, had the courage to come to see us a
few months after Robert died and asked the most straightforward
question, "Mrs. Bradley, what the hell happened?" I spend my days and
a few nights trying to answer that excruciating question by going over
every painful decision and choice we made. What should we have done
differently? What errors did we make  that put Robert on a course of
deceit, drugs and death?

In my forensic journey through Robert's last 18 months of life, I have
learned some things that I would like to share with you tonight.

Agree or disagree, the choice is yours.

What is the most dangerous drug out there for the teenage mind?
Oxycontin? Crystal meth? Heroin? Larry Robinson (Robert's counselor)
thinks it is marijuana and this is his reasoning: Adolescence is a
time of great confusion and a fragile mind trying to sort out issues
of  separation, individuation, abstract thought, construction of
identity, intense  self-focus, peers, drugs, sex and alcohol.

The psychiatrist Ronald Dahl tells us  that "adolescents are a
tinderbox of emotions actively looking for experiences  to create
intense feelings ... the brain regions that put the brakes on risky,
impulsive behavior are still under construction."

Now add to that the psychoactive drug THC (found in marijuana). Quite
a mix. For some teenagers, THC allows for a false distancing from
these complex feelings. For others it creates intense paranoia.

It numbs the mind and impairs thinking. The B.C. bud that is coming
into the U.S. from Canada contains 25 percent more added THC than the
marijuana of the '60s. Its affect taken with alcohol is like taking 15
Valiums. Society doesn't perceive marijuana to be a problem drug. It's
acceptable. It's a rite of passage. Where there is marijuana at a
party there are often other drugs.

Derek Moore from The Center for Addictive Behavior (CAB) tells me these
facts of current drugs available in Marblehead:

Oxycontin: $40 to $80 a tablet. Crushed to remove time-release coating, then

Heroin: $3 to $4 a bag. Pure enough to be inhaled, not necessarily injected.

Ecstasy: $15 to $20 a roll (meaning a single dose).

Crystal meth: $10 to $20 a hit. Smoked or snorted.

These are things to know. Al Qaida would be thrilled with the destruction
these drugs are inflicting on Americans.

Ian Taggart shared this thought with me. "At any party where these drugs are
available, there will be kids that will only smoke dope and drink booze.

There will, however, be other kids that will be  ready to try the hard
drugs." Do you know which kid you are? Do you know which  kid you
have? I didn't. When Robert told me last July that he had tried all
these hard drugs, I could barely breathe.

But then he told me that he had  decided to give them up. I believed
him, "Of course, you have stopped using hard  drugs.

Who would continue to risk their life using drugs?" What I failed to
understand is that addiction trumps free will. Should Bob and I have
had Robert arrested by the Marblehead Police? Should we have hired
Vic, the 220-pound child transporter, to come into Robert's room at
night and take him off to a rural drug treatment program for three
months? No  contact.

Should we have put him into an involuntary detox facility to be held
against his will? What about a Section 12 three-day psych evaluation
at Salem  Hospital? All these things were considered. In the end we
felt that Robert  needed to participate in changing his life and
altering his course through the  clashing rocks.

We never saw death coming, even though the wolf was in the

I will leave you tonight with some observations. I used to say to
Robert that raising a teenager feels like a football game: He was the
offense and we were  the defense.

Part of his offensive play book was deceit.

How could he look at us  right in the eye and lie to us? Sarah Evans
shared this with me: "Well, Mrs.  Bradley, it is when we are looking
you right in the eye that we are lying to you  because we are trying
to sell you on whatever it is we are lying about." When did parents
become the enemy?

We perceive it is our job to get you through the turmoil that is
adolescence so you can go on to have a life. Tiffany Foss made a
remark to me that was both naked and hard to hear: "When are you
parents going to get it? You can't keep us safe!"

So who will keep you safe? You believe that it is your life and it is,
but your decisions affect others.

Robert risked taking drugs that had the very real potential to kill
him. They did kill him. When he died Oct. 21, we died, too. We  died
of sadness.

We died because a life without him is just too ... hard. I feel  that
we failed Robert. I feel that his friends failed Robert. I feel that
Robert  failed Robert.

Please make good decisions.

Have a life. Remember those in whose love you live. Thank you for your
time tonight.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin