Written by Shelly Mowrey on behalf of Kim Obert
It’s the last – and most feared – thing you expect to happen: a knock on your front door with a grim-faced police officer standing on the other side. Yet that’s where I found myself the evening of September 22, 2003 as I listened to the officer tell me that my son, Kent, had died from a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs.My heart dropped as I heard the words that my son – my handsome, sensitive, funny, talented, smart son – died from an accidental prescription drug overdose.
The night before had started like so many others: a get together between Kent and several friends at someone’s house. They drank beers, though not in excess, and one friend had brought prescription medication. All the boys took the medication and went to sleep that night with the potentially lethal combination of alcohol and meds in their systems. Kent was the only one who didn’t wake up.
Blindsided by my son's death, I felt a strong desire to help others avoid the path that I was traveling on so I began volunteering with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Az Affiliate. As part of 3Moms, I told Kent’s story with the hope that by sharing what I was going through, I might be able to help others prevent this from happening in their family.
3Moms is a group of mothers whose lives have been affected by their children’s drug use. The goal of 3Moms is for parents who hear the Partnership’s message to pass it on to three more parents or caregivers, eventually creating a network of support across the state.
After volunteering with the Partnership for three years, I decided to leave my corporate marketing and communications position to join the organization as a full-time employee.
My first official day of work with the Partnership coincided with the launch of our new program, AZ Parents Connect. AZ Parents Connect is a research-based community education program, developed by the Partnership, to raise awareness of teen alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug abuse in Arizona by targeting parents, health care professionals and military families. The program focuses on the three important steps of “prevention, intervention, treatment” through parent workshops, in-person and online community trainings.
I now coordinate and participate in our 12-week parent workshops, which cover a variety of topics such as substance abuse risk factors, stages of addiction, communicating with your teen and bringing fun back to the family after a loved one’s addiction.
It's been seven years since my son's death and moving on is still not easy, but I find joy and accomplishment in being able to bring my message to thousands of parents and caregivers throughout our great state – I hope sharing my story will help parents find ways to avoid the heartache I had to endure.
Please share this blog with other parents and encourage anyone your know who has a child to check out our weekly discussion groups.