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Letters to the Editor - May 9, 2019

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By The Staff

After two decades of my son fighting his demons, he’s finally at peace

“Hi. My name is Chad, and I am an alcoholic.” The first time I heard my son say those words was nine years and three months ago. He had just entered the first stage of the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program that would result in his being sober for nine years. During the early months I sat proudly in AA meetings in various parts of the Greater Louisville area and listened to him and others tell their stories. Yes, I said and I meant “proudly.” Both his older sister and brother had graduated with honors from college and went on to pursue successful careers in the business world. Chased by his personal demons, Chad finally found his niche in the hospitality staffing industry where he was highly successful in the placement of hundreds of men and women in all positions of that industry. The pride I felt in the accomplishments by his siblings was exceeded by the feelings of pride I had for him in battling and, for a time, overcoming those demons.

Many of the people he hired were like him, recovering alcoholics, and they were profoundly grateful someone would give them a second chance at a productive future. If Chad felt they were sincere in staying sober, he would hire them at his company or help place them at another local firm. His position was a perfect fit. He had worked as a chef in restaurants in Louisville and in Columbus, Ohio. He knew the business just as he knew the type of people who could be trusted and who had the type of work ethic that would make their employers successful.

At some point in the past eight to 10 months, in spite of his years of sobriety, Chad took a turn down the path into the world of drugs. We will never know what happened to put him on that path, but we, and almost all of his friends, were unaware of where he was headed. Some of his closest friends realized several weeks ago he was once again struggling, but nobody understood those “powerful and baffling” demons had come back with a vengeance. On Saturday, April 20, Chad tragically died of an accidental drug overdose – alone and in his apartment. We have concluded that the cause of death was a mixture of Oxycontin and crystal meth, a deadly cocktail. We also believe his death came suddenly as he stood in the kitchen, probably so suddenly that his life was snuffed out before his body even hit the floor. It was more than 24 hours before his mother found him.

At the moment I am heart-broken, as are his mother and siblings. I will always miss him and his beautiful smile, but I cannot grieve for him. After more than two decades of fighting his demons every day and every night, he is finally at peace where they cannot touch him ever again. Knowing that fact, I am also at peace knowing his pain and his struggles have ended. There will be no more late night phone calls to me from hospitals or jail, no more car wrecks, no more financial loans to help him resolve repeating crises. Most importantly, he is free from everything that caused so much worry and stress in his life. For most of his life, in spite of that smile, he was in a type of personal hell that we cannot imagine – every day and every night.

If you or someone you love is trapped by drug or alcohol addiction, please seek out and find professional help. There is no cure or silver bullet for addiction, but others who have been on that journey can help you just as others have helped them. If you or your friends are even thinking about drugs or alcohol, please do not even try either just once. The use of them, even casually, will never lead to a positive outcome.

We will never know how many people were helped by Chad, but we heard from many of them at his funeral how meaningful his presence in their lives had been. If you have lost a loved one to addiction, you are welcome to contact me. Sometimes just talking about that loss will result in closure, and I will always make time for a frank conservation. There is now a hole inside my soul that I can fill only by helping others as Chad did.

-Albert Harrison, La Grange

In response to OC Schools plan to address mental illness

I read with sadness the May 2 article on mental illness among our students. It is extremely disturbing to think that in such a land of freedom and opportunity a wave of despair would be sweeping across the next generation.

Interesting as well was the answer our educators intend to provide. The focus throughout the piece was merely upon mechanisms by which students would be able to cope with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, etc. without including a root-cause answer that would bring true and lasting hope.

Although the causes of mental illness vary, mental illness is just that, illness of the mind. One’s mind has accepted ideas about life, which do not match truth and reality; hence the pathological condition is created.

While cultural influences should not be discounted, helpful questions educators ought to be asking is, “What ideas are these students believing which are causing their minds to be filled with hopelessness?” Obviously what they are absorbing is filling them with despair.

Since we entrust educators with shaping the mind, and since those being taught have illness of the mind, maybe we ought to examine what is being taught. This seems to be the plea of parents who wrote letters to the editor in the last two editions of The Oldham Era.

Over 100 years ago, educators began accepting and implementing the educational philosophy of the so-called “Father of Modern Education,” John Dewey. Maybe it is time to re-evaluate those ideas and where they have taken us. His answers to the big questions of life--Who am I? Why am I here? What is the good life? What does the good state look like? Is there a God? What is my destiny? --are so different from those of our nation’s Founding Fathers. But due to the change, our children are now reaping the depressing consequences of Mr. Dewey’s bad ideas.

It is true: ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have victims.

Such an ideological examination and return to the educational philosophy of our Founders just might yield some real hope to the next generation drowning in nihilistic despair. That kind of change would allow us to help students not only cope but would perform the mental surgery necessary to provide real and lasting hope to the next generation.

-David Meredith, Crestwood

In support of Rocky Adkins for governor

It’s not often you meet a politician who you can connect with and who understands and actually cares about Kentucky. But the moment I met Rocky Adkins, Democratic candidate for governor, I knew he was different.

Rocky grew up on the left-hand fork of Middle Fork in rural Elliott County, the son of a school teacher and a grocery clerk at the local IGA. He learned the value of hard work growing up on his family farm and has been working for Kentucky families in the state legislator for many years.

Rocky has fought for public education and teachers. He has worked to protect our public pension system. And he has advocated for affordable health care for all Kentuckians. He is a cancer survivor and understands that access to healthcare can be the difference between life and death.

Rocky is the only candidate who will work to unite our communities and our state. Over these last few years, it seems we’ve lost our way. All of a sudden it has become more important to some to care more about whether or not your neighbor is a Democrat or a Republican. We cannot afford those labels. We must work together to build a stronger tomorrow for Kentucky.

Rocky has common sense - something that is missing from a lot of our leaders today. He is the only candidate that can go head-to-head with Matt Bevin in November and restore dignity and respect to the governor’s office.

The primary for Kentucky’s governor is May 21. It is imperative that we all get out and vote for the only candidate who can beat Matt Bevin in November. And that person is Rocky Adkins.

- Seth Hall, La Grange