Tag Archives: Manchester NH

My Turn: A successful journey through the minefield of addiction

Screen shot 2014-10-15 at 6.59.06 AMMy son, at 23, is lucky to be alive.

Statistically, he is a member of a generation decimated by an opiate drug epidemic so far-reaching that in 2010 – the year he graduated high school – New Hampshire reported having a higher percentage of people abusing pain medication than any other state, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The largest demographic was young people age 17-25.

And it continues even now, an epidemic that has led directly to the resurgence of heroin, a drug that is a much cheaper and far more deadly alternative to painkillers.

I guess it should be a given at this phase of my life, but I am frankly overjoyed that my son is a senior at UNH, and that he’s managing his life, his money, his studies and his future so deftly. I slip him gas money when he visits and he takes it, reluctantly. He is acutely aware that his childhood is defunct, and that standing on his own two feet is the only way to move forward in this life.

I say he is lucky because, in the same way I’ve heard veterans of war wrestle with survivor’s guilt, I can’t quite understand how my son found his way out of enemy territory, mostly unscathed.

As a mother, I’ve been over it a hundred times or more, and still, there are no good or logical answers.

I only know that five years ago, I didn’t see much hope in his heart for the future. He was trapped in a high school where his big brain was overshadowed by his apathy for the rat race. He underachieved because he was mostly invisible to the educators who were there to help him find himself, obscured by his long hair and the space between academia and its relevance to his world.

Looking back now, I realize there was a sub-narrative to the plot I couldn’t see because it was written in the secret language of teenagers. Now I understand that my son’s apathetic Wonder Years coincided with the pharmaceutical phenomenon we are now recognizing as the pathway to opiate addiction.

Many of his peers – smart kids, dumb kids, athletic kids, kids from good families and fractured ones – dabbled with pot and alcohol, moving on to illicit encounters with cough syrup, LSD and the premier ADHD drug Adderall – which they learned quickly would help anyone focus enough to cram for a test and excel. It was easy enough to score from someone whose brother was diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder.

Better living through chemistry led many of these kids to discover oxycodone, another easily acquired pill dished out like candy to anyone with pain. Like Adderall, it was a magic pill that quickly boosted their adolescent spirits, or dulled the pain of their perceived losses – dads that were MIA., parents who didn’t engage, romances that didn’t materialize or economic realities that didn’t support brand-name fashions or top-of-the-line technology.

My son is one of the lucky ones because some primal lobe in his big brain lit up enough to guide the rest of him out of the darkness of dabbling that has swallowed too many of his peers whole.

If you’re reading this and judging these kids, or these families, who struggle every day with opiate addiction, you don’t know the half of it. You don’t know how many of your neighbors and co-workers continue to dance this exhausting tango with a diabolical partner that won’t let go, spiraling into the twirling, clutching drain of fatal desperation that robs them of their finances, their hopes and dreams, and, sometimes, their children.

New Hampshire lags far behind in addiction treatment. Ask anyone involved in the bureaucracy. They will confirm that it’s a problem we can’t solve through law enforcement. If you’re lucky enough to find your way to a treatment bed, five days of detox and 12 steps at a time for 28 days is a futile dance that does not add up to long-term recovery.

It only leads back to a revolving door of the most powerfully relentless addictive substance on earth, which is claiming those who otherwise may not have been prone to the disease of addiction.

Join the HOPE for Recovery Rally at NH Statehouse, Oct. 18, 2014, 11a.m. -2 p.m.

According to the state medical examiner’s office, although prescription drug-related deaths dropped between 2012 and 2013, from 88 to 72, heroin-related deaths have nearly doubled, from 37 in 2012 to 70 – and that’s just as of June.

This is more than unacceptable and should be at the top of our to-fix list, just as it was for Pete Shumlin, governor of Vermont, who scrapped the PowerPoint version of his 2014 State of the State speech to focus on just one topic: how to mount a counter-attack on the heroin and opiate addiction threatening his state.

My son and I don’t talk much about those we know who are still prisoners of this particular drug war, or those who died on the battlefield. He and his own two feet have moved on.

He has the right to judge them, I suppose. He has the right to despise the human weakness that prevails when someone gives up and gives in to an enemy that takes them over and delivers them into the belly of the beast.

I was happy to hear he was planning to stop by with his girlfriend after a birthday dinner for two out on the town. I decided to bake cupcakes, the chocolate-peanut butter ones I used to send to school with him for classroom celebrations of his youth – and not because I thought it would remind him that childhood is only lost to us if we choose to forget the dreams we dream and lessons we learn while we dwell there.

But because his life is my gift, his experience has been my teacher, his losses have left permanent scars on my heart – the heart of a mother who celebrates another year of hopes and dreams for a son who, for no reason I can put my finger on, didn’t get caught in the vice-grip death trap that is our opiate drug addiction epidemic.

And because I get to celebrate another year with my amazing son and light a birthday candle for all those mothers who can’t, and who never will again.

As published in the Concord Monitor, Oct. 10, 2014

(Carol Robidoux is a freelance writer who lives in Manchester.)

Ding-Dong: Stark Beer Baron Calling

Bill, the Stark Beer Baron. He delivers.

So there I was in a Google+ hangout, conducting business via my computer. I was trying to block out the lawnmower rumble coming  from across the street and focus on the virtual face in front of me when I heard the unmistakable vroooom of a motorcycle, which came to an abrupt halt as it crescendoed outside my house.

“That’s weird,” I thought to myself, without taking my eyes off the computer. “Wonder who it might be?”

My first thought was my friend Cindy, who has stopped by on her motorcycle before. My second thought was the police, because, well, because that’s just how my brain works.

A minute later, there was a knock at the door. I excused myself and went to see who was knocking.

There, backlit by the morning sun, was a divine alcohol angel descended to earth to make my day. He was holding a cold, sweaty beer.

“Hello?” I said, tentatively.

The man, who I later learned was not an angel but rather a beer baron named Bill Seney, politely informed me that my son had entered – and won – a promotion by Stark Brewing Company (formerly Milly’s Tavern) for a free beer for the man of the house.

“He’s at work right now, but I’ll happily intercept, er, accept it on his behalf,” I said, reaching for the cold Mt. U Cream Ale in his outstretched hand.

Fortunately I came to my senses in time to tell him I wanted to take his picture, and he said he wanted to do the same, so we mugged for mutual promotional celly snaps, and then he said goodbye.

He had more beer to deliver.

About an hour later, my son Bill – not to be confused with the Beer Baron Bill – called to ask if a motorcycle delivery man had been to the house recently.

And that’s how I found out the rest of the story, that my son had to earn the beer by posting via the NH reddit page, and that Stark’s motorcycle craft beer promotion also happens to coincide with NH’s own annual Laconia Bike Week.

“I wasn’t sure if it was legit,” my son said. “He said he was a beer baron.”

Oh, he was legit, all right!

BTW, here’s what my son posted:

“My truck broke down on Friday and I wasn’t able to travel down from school to see my dad for Father’s Day — even after I took time off from work. It would absolutely make his day to receive a free craft beer by motorcycle. He might even share a cigar with you!”

So Happy Belated Father’s Day to my husband, who will love this story. Big thanks to my son, Bill, for going the extra mile even when his truck failed him.

And to Bill the Beer Baron, if you’re reading this, feel free to stop back later for a cigar.

You can visit the NH reddit thread here.

Call out to beer lovers on reddit.

No Keno in New Hampshire

Screen shot 2014-05-01 at 1.53.15 PM
Just having a little fun at the expense of twin antiquarians Leigh and Leslie Keno, who I interviewed once for a story about a local auction in NH.

*New Hampshire legislators killed a bill that would have allowed Keno in local establishments that serve alcohol. This has nothing at all to do with the Keno twins, Leigh and Leslie – known for their high-end auction item expertise –  or whether they will be allowed to drink in New Hampshire.

It is about the game of Keno, a lottery style casino game, and the push for a bill to bring it to NH, co-sponsored by Keith and Kelleigh Murphy, co-owners of Murphy’s Taproom here in Manchester – where alcohol is definitely served, and Liberty lovers have been known to raise a glass to such crowd pleasers as Ron Paul and Open Carry nights.

No word as to whether the Keno twins have actually ever tried to get served at local bars when in New Hampshire on the hunt for Granite State related “Buried Treasure.”

Anyway, every now and again I get such a strong visual from word play that I can’t resist, so I created the above meme, just for fun. Oh, and you can read the text of NH HB 485 here.

*Subtext: OMG – NH Senate Killed Keno! (for the South Park Fans)