Losing loved ones to addiction

Drugs and alcohol have played a major role in my life.  I have lost many family members because of addiction.  As a young child, my father was killed in a drunk driving car accident.  He struggled with addiction throughout his teenage and adult life and that addiction inevitably led to his death in 1991.  My uncle was involved in a single-car drunk driving accident which caused severe brain damage.  He also struggled with addiction and several years later over-dosed on prescription medications and passed away.  My grandmother abused prescription medications for years and couldn’t live a “normal” life without them.  Her addiction to medications controlled her life and eventually she reached a point where she felt like she had nothing left to live for.

I have personally come to know addiction through these events.  I know what it feels like to think you could have done more.  I know the guilt you feel when someone passes away and you didn’t do anything to help them.  As a junior high student I began to get involved with youth organizations that focused on underage drinking and drug use.  I saw the importance of educating youth on these substances.  I felt like I was finally making a difference.  I felt like if I could stop one person from choosing drugs or alcohol I was potentially saving a life.

Red Ribbon week is an avenue for people to come together and say “NO”.  It is an opportunity for youth to know that they are not alone.  Making the choice to be drug/alcohol free is not always an easy one.  Many believe it is a lonely road, but as schools promote red ribbon week it allows youth to make a choice and stand together.  A simple red ribbon provides a common thread for youth and adults throughout the nation.  It is a uniting force that continues to spread each year.  As I see red ribbons in schools, malls, and grocery stores I am reminded that together we can make a difference.  One voice may get lost in a crowd but together we can be heard!

Emily Smith of Bennington, KS 

Emily Smith is a stay at home mom for two beautiful girls.  She graduated in 2010 from Kansas Wesleyan University.  She has been involved with Kansas Family Partnership since she was in middle school and most recently served as a board member.