Last December, I was contacted by Whitefish Bay resident June Rubner. She had a story to tell about her own son's battle with drugs and his eventual incarceration, and I published her story on this blog.
At one point in our conversation, we discussed the possibility that June's son would also write something for publication, as it could help with his recovery, and perhaps help others in the community. In a tragic moment of serendipty, he finished his story for this blog the same week that Whitefish Bay's Maddie Keifer died of a drug overdose.
Currently Justin is in jail at the Franklin House of Correction. The article below is jointly written by June and her son.
LIFE ON DRUGS as told by a drug user . . .
"I know that I've always had trouble following the rules, but the truth is that I've always been one to learn the hard way. I've definitely learned a damn good lesson in life due to this experience in jail, and due to my good friend Ben Paliafito's death as well. All this seemed to come at me so fast and it's just overwhelming when I think about Ben. It's definitely been an eye-opener to me, but I'd rather not try and talk about Ben because it just makes me wish that he was still with us way too much." -- Those words were written to me by my son Justin as he was sitting in the Franklin House of Correction on his 162nd day of his sentence (which my husband Stu keeps track of each day in his journal writing).
AND YET . . . we have one more drug-related death here in Whitefish Bay . . . Maddie Kiefer, 15 years old and a freshman at WFB High School. PARENTS OF WHITEFISH BAY . . . PLEASE WAKE UP TO WHAT IS HAPPENING AROUND YOU BEFORE IT BECOMES ONE OF YOUR OWN CHILDREN! Please, read on and you may recognize some of these signs in your own child.
Justin continues to write: "I've barely talked to you (my parents) about myself or my addictions and have not been completely truthful to you, or even to myself, so now while I have time; I thought I'd paint you a picture of what my addiction had become in my life. I've always been a self-centered person, shy, withdrawn and never seemed to fit in with what seemed to be 'normal.' "
"I always had an underlying sense of weakness while I was growing up, looking for something to help me fill the void I felt, something to help me feel more secure, satisfied with myself and how I viewed myself as a person. I had always been curious about drugs since the middle school health class when we talked about how drugs can make you feel. I smoked "weed" for the first time in 7th grade and it made me feel high as hell. Drugs made me feel good about myself, took away all my worries and voided my troubles in life, like I had nothing to worry about at all."
"I continued smoking weed off and on, but it wasn't until my sophomore year that I bought my own bag for the first time, along with a glass pipe. It was kind of cool, yet scary at the same time, sneaking around, hoping not to get caught since I was doing something illegal and could get in trouble. Senior year I began seeing some major changes in myself and my habits as I began smoking weed at least once a week, sometimes even by myself. "
"Before I knew it I was 18, legally responsible for my own actions, and smoking weed at least once a day at that point. I had developed a change in my personality that just made me stop caring what other people thought of me anymore – it was only important to me to feel good about myself, and the way I made that happen on a regular basis was to get high on drugs."
Justin had a job that was paying for his habit. He found that once the "high" from weed wasn't enough, he moved on to experiment with opiates: Xanex, Ecstasy, Speed, LSD, Vicodin and Percocets. Soon he discovered Oxycontin, a much better high for him. But when that high wasn't high enough for him anymore, he moved on to heroin at the suggestion of his dealer.
His dealer told him "it's better than Oxycontin" and at that point heroin became his new drug of choice. At first he only snorted heroin because he was "afraid of the needle" he says in his letter, that "he didn't want to go that deep." But once again, not being able to reason and because his dealer told him, "you can shoot up half the amount for a better high," was when Justin decided to pick up the needle. What Justin really wanted at that point was to get as high, if not higher than he ever had been before. He was "playing with the devil at that point" and he sold himself to the needle for that "better rush of euphoria."
All of this obviously took a toll on Justin's life: he got fired from his job because he could never show up on time or sometimes he went out on his break and never went back; his family and friends were seriously worried about him; and he started a whole new way of getting money for his drugs by breaking into businesses and cars. He was selling stolen merchandise for money and had lost his soul to drugs. It didn't take much time before Justin was arrested while breaking into a car early one morning.
Justin will be spending one and a half years in jail, "his life lesson" as he now calls it and I still worry about what will happen when he gets released.
During our visits he tells me that "he is honestly and totally done with drugs of any kind." But once back out on the streets you have to really "remove yourself" from any past associations or temptations to drugs.
"Stay Strong" is what I say to Justin before I leave following each of our weekly visits. Staying strong and staying tough is what we, as parents, have to do as well if we want to keep our kids safe in today's society.
Peer pressure is more today than it's ever been for our kids. Just "trying to fit in and be popular" sometimes means not listening to reason. It's not an easy path to take when you have your own child arrested, but one can only hope that it is a "life lesson" that starts their life moving in a better direction.
As told by Justin and June Rubner.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
Powerful stuff. I wish to thank June and Justin for their candor, writing about something that is incredibly personal and embarrassing.
June has suggested a Part 3 to this story, which centers around her desire to help the community in more formal ways, like forming a drug awareness group.
NOTE: I will be writing about this story throughout
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Make sure you read other items:
- Drug death - Day 3
- Searching for answers..
- Another Sad WFB Overdose
- Are you in the WFB Crime Zone?
- The Real Property Tax Report
- WFB Police Annual Report
- WFB Crime Alert & Kaehler
- Fargoans .. way tougher
- WFB Election Update III
- Buckley for WFB Trustee?
- Help out WFB - Shop Here!
- Here's an idea: WFB Wi-Fi
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