Addiction is a horrible affliction. There are many types. Mine is perhaps the only one that happens to a “positive” addiction. It is to fighting drugs—not taking them, not selling them and not accepting them!
My first exposure to the need to fight drugs occurred when my sons were five and nine years old. I was a stay-at-home mother and loved what I was doing. We had a wonderful, close family relationship.
Our introduction to illicit drug use came, not from within our family, but from our neighborhood. My husband, Ray, was the first to recognize that something was going wrong when he saw a teenager sitting in the front window of his house across from ours smoking a very small pipe. The boy saw my husband outside and held his head close to the window and blew smoke toward him.
The next morning he left a nasty note on our front steps with a one-finger salute drawn on it. My husband confronted the boy who, of course, denied he had left it. Denial and anger are an integral part of beginning drug use. Paul (fictional name) was leaning up against his car and my husband took hold of his denim jacket and lifted the kid onto the hood of the car. I was panicked and told my husband to take his hands off him. A crowd of neighbors had gathered and were quieting me, saying, “Joyce just let him be, Paul needs that discipline.” There was no confrontation except for “words” mainly.
My husband then went directly to the boy’s home and spoke to his mother, a widow, who was a single mother of two boys. Before my husband got out much more than “I’m sorry,” she wrapped her arms around him and said, “Thank you, I’m losing control over him. Maybe this will help.” My husband gave her our phone number. Paul graduated from a prestigious high school, got an engineering degree and married.
Paul later came to see me and said, “You were right Mrs. Nalepka. I’ve lost my short term memory and had to tape all my college classes to be able to remember what the professors were saying.” Paul died very young of cancer.
Another teen nearby was arrested for dealing marijuana and Quaaludes. He spent a lot of time fishing with us or playing in our front yard. When I heard of the arrest, I was heartbroken. I called him in and told him what I knew. He became very embarrassed and angry. I told him he had my phone and could call me any time and I would help him but he could not be with our boys.
In a few weeks, the call came. He had six tickets to a rock concert and no one to drive him. He would like to take our boys and me—if I’d drive. It took some convincing; however, my husband relented. Within 30 minutes, you could not see across the professional basketball arena. I demanded his money back and we left.
That evening sent me into parental shock. I knew I had to become active or my own kids and all their friends would be surrounded by this behavior at school, and everywhere they went.
I visited a nearby record store that had a huge display of drug paraphernalia. It was within walking distance of my home. I took another stay-at-home mom back to the store with me and we purchased two grocery bags of various types of paraphernalia. We showed it to the Montgomery County, Md. school board. We sent out a press release and the hearing room was packed. Soon, we were on all the local radio and TV shows and the drug culture came out of the woodwork.
Legalization advocates were getting money from the paraphernalia industry, and, according to several police officers, drugs were being dealt out the back door. They were not happy that we were closing down their source of income.
McDonald's Get's The Message
Former Maryland Senator Charles Mathias and current Vice President Joseph Biden held hearings in Baltimore on the drug paraphernalia industry. The Paraphernalia Trade Association, PTA, came asking that the industry be spared. “After all, they pleaded, you can get paraphernalia anywhere. “Look at this,” said one, holding up a McDonald’s coffee stirring spoon, “This is the best cocaine spoon in town and it’s free with every cup of coffee at McDonalds.”
The hearing ended before I got my turn to testify. As I was driving home, I was searching to think of some way to counteract their statement. Then, I had an “Aha!” moment. McDonald'swould never want to be associated with drug paraphernalia. I ran to the phone. I found the number and asked for the president, Ed Schmidt. His assistant was on vacation and the young woman replacing her didn’t realize, I guess, that he didn’t take everyone’s call and she put me through.
I started to tell him what was happening and he asked, “What do you want from me?” I said, “The drug paraphernalia industry says your tiny spoon-shaped coffee stirrer is being used as a cocaine spoon.” Again, he asked, “What do you want me to do?”