Together we can make a difference

Review of DDAP’s Scare Tactics & 15 Families at a time approach to heroin epidemic.

Pike County, PA – volunteers have been educating families in Pike County through Reality Tour since 2012. Their most recent Reality Tour was held on on November 19, 2015. Tour Director, Jill Gamboni, later received an email from a parent who attended the program. We want to share this with the world to show that our program and volunteers truly make a difference, and in this case, Reality Tour had a positive impact on this family…

Dear Jill,

My son (age 12) and I attended The Reality Tour at Milford Bible Church about two weeks ago. My son is in Boy Scouts, and we went to the program with several other Boy Scouts and their parents. We were very impressed with the quality of the program and I thought it might be helpful for you to hear some feedback from our family.

As you know, our older son died at age 23 from an accidental heroin overdose. The last few years of his life were a kind of reality tour for all of us, as we struggled through suspicions, denials, car accidents and a general downward spiral that wasn’t even clear to us until after he died. We were too close to get a clear view of what was happening until it was too late. I cannot even begin to imagine the difficulties our son went through to try to keep up the appearances of a normal life.

The Reality Tour was hard for us to attend because of our loss, which still feels very new, but we felt it was important for our 12 year old son to have as much information as possible as he grows up in this scary world. I felt that I had been through it all, but was surprised at how much I learned about drug abuse at the program,­ ages of kids trying drugs, things that they try before actually getting into illegal drugs, and many preventative measures that families should take.

The program had a big impact on our son. I had offered to pull him out before a scene that I thought would be particularly hard for him, but he insisted on staying for all the scenes. When we left that night, he told me how much he wants to have a role in this program in the future. We don’t know if it’s possible since he doesn’t go to Delaware Valley, but I hope there might be a way to have him included in the portrayals.

The variety of speakers really enhanced the program, and I have stressed this in recommending it to others. I think it was very valuable to have real people, not just educators, speak about the consequences of drug abuse. From a school police officer to a man who gave a kidney to his brother, to two recovering addicts and two parents who had lost children through drug abuse, the stories they told were hard to hear, but REAL. I cannot give enough credit to the two parents and the two recovering addicts who spoke of their incredibly painful, but true experiences with addiction. I think it means a lot to kids to hear about how the two men’s lives started with occasional drinking and drug use when they were teens, and led to lives that were out of control and true nightmares. I think kids can relate to these stories much more than they can to hearing about drug abuse from their teacher in school or church, or even a parent. These weren’t warnings-they were lives that ignored the warnings and paid very dear prices.

I know of several young adults who are struggling with heroin addiction. They have gone through rehabs and/or jail time, sometimes several times, and this habit just won’t let them go. Once it gets it’s claws into someone, they often have the battle of a lifetime to get clean and stay clean. Prevention is crucial for our kids, especially with a drug that claims its victims so quickly and completely. We need to do ANYTHING that we can to stop this problem before it steals any more of our kids. Thank you and the other volunteers so much for putting on a very helpful, valuable program.

Carol Phillips

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