Parents Left Behind
Silence filled the room and tears flowed as three parents spoke at Northampton Community College’s panel, “Parents Left Behind,” Feb. 26. Tina Ralls, Chuck Deprill and Donna Jacobson told their stories about living with addicted children. For Ralls and Deprill, their children lost their long-fought battles with opioid abuse. For Jacobson, her daughter is still here and in recovery after a long and difficult journey with addiction.
Ralls, an attorney from Emmaus, lost her son James from smoking heroin. She described James as a very bright kid who, unfortunately, had a serious addiction problem.
“This is a disease,” Ralls said while describing the journey her family experienced on for years. “The only way to confront it is the way we confront medical diseases.”
Aside from his disease, James loved writing music. Ralls read bits of songs and rap verses that James had written while recovering, many of which described his thought process while struggling and working toward beating his demons. James wanted to get better and worked tirelessly to get there.
Ralls went on to explain that it is important to get addicts help right away.
“You don’t need to wait for someone to bottom out,” she said. Ralls explained that it often times takes more than 30 days for addicts to get sober, especially those who are the more serious addicts, like James. Ralls continues to speak to individuals all over about James, to make sure his story gets told and addicts continue getting the attention and the help they need.
Deprill, a volunteer EMT for almost 50 years, shared the story of his son Corey, who lost his struggle with an opioid addiction. Corey loved cars and hanging with “motor heads” on days when he wasn’t being a volunteer firefighter. Unfortunately, Corey suffered an injury which led him to pain medication, which ultimately resulted in drug abuse.
Deprill shared the ups and downs of his son’s addiction and said he felt that being in the EMT world should have helped him read the signs of Corey’s abuse.
“When it’s your child, you miss all this,” Deprill explained. “We trust our children.”
Deprill recalled blaming himself and how lost he felt during and after Corey’s struggle. Six month’s before Corey was found dead, he had saved a girl’s life with Narcan, and explained to her family the importance of getting her out of the negative environment she was in. Corey had a big heart, which was evident when 1,200 people attended his viewing and 800 were at his funeral.
Corey was a functioning member of society, which goes to show that drug addiction can happen to anyone.
A motorcycle run in memory of Corey is being held April 20 at the Alburtis Fire Company from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“I offer to those of you that are here, the other side; hope,” started Donna Jacobson, mother of Lindsay, who has struggled with drug addiction and has been in recovery for years.
Lindsay’s addiction took a toll on family members who did everything they could to help her.
“It was a very long and hard journey for us,” Jacobson said. Lindsay was always an overachiever in school. She suffered from anxiety and was prescribed Xanax by a family doctor.
“I didn’t know enough about that medication and how highly addictive it was,” Jacobson said. As time progressed, so did Lindsay’s addiction. She began to abuse the Xanax but recognized her own issue early on.
“It was my decision,” Lindsay would say to her parents.
Jacobson mentioned how fortunate she is that Lindsay reached out for help after only a short time of abusing drugs and alcohol.
“Because we are their parents and love them, we believe them,” Jacobson said as she recalled the times Lindsay would lie about her using. Luckily, Lindsay overcame her addiction and remains in recovery today.
“She is no longer the child that left her family behind,” Jacobson said.
Jacobson urged everyone to attend “Rally in the Valley” at Steelstacks May 19. This event is working toward bringing together recovery communities, mental health communities, music and more.
Ralls, Deprill and Jacobson all said they will continue to share the stories of their children with the hope of helping as many individuals as they can.
“If one person walks out of here with just a little more education than they walked in with, then we’ve done our job,” Jacobson said.