Life after drugs

CHAMPION – One mother talked about losing touch with her daughter because of drugs.

Another described the death of one son and watching another’s fight to recover.

A young father and mother explained that their road to recovery from drug and alcohol addictions began the day their newborn son was taken from them.

A local law enforcement official announced a new outlook on the war on drugs.

It was all part of the Hope for Recovery from Addiction: From Problems to Recovery program held Saturday at Trumbull Career and Technical Center.

Bonnie Wilson told the crowd of more than 100 people about learning 16 years ago that her then-20-year-old daughter had become addicted to heroin.

Both her daughter’s and her family’s lives began a long downward spiral of deception, constant crisis and, often, too-brief moments of redemption.

“This was a journey to hell,” Wilson said. “Her addiction affected the entire household.”

Wilson described hiding jewelry, car keys, credit cards, checks, and anything of value from her daughter. She explained awkward moments of listening to friends talk about their children’s accomplishments, wanting to share how many days her daughter had been sober.

She told of how it became her job to negotiate with credit card companies about fraudulent charges and with insurance companies about accidents.

“I was trying to fix her problems,” Wilson described. “She was depending on me to fix her problems.”

It was only in recent years that Wilson learned the only one she could change was herself. It will be her daughter’s decision to fix herself.

In the meantime, Wilson has taken in, and recently adopted, her grandson.

“There is hope,” Wilson said.

Marilyn Burns talked the pain of losing a son, Christopher, to heroin. She is now supporting another son, Jason, with his addiction.

“My sons are my heroes,” Burns said. “I could not imagine waking up every day and going through what they went through.”

Burns described knowing in April 2007 when she received a phone call from her oldest son, Jason, that she was losing Christopher. He had just moved to California five weeks earlier to be with his brother and a girl he had met.

He was found dead in a motel room.

“When you have someone who is addicted, in the back of your mind, you believe you’re going to get that call,” Burns said. “When my secretary came in and told me Jason was on the phone, I knew.”

Christopher described his addiction as the devil.

“When my children were growing up, I prayed that everything would be OK,” she said. “I’ve had to adjust what OK meant.”

James and Brandi Bobco talked about their individual descents into drug addiction and their continued use as a couple.

They said it went on until Feb. 23, 2012, when their newborn son was taken away by Trumbull County Children Services.

Each decided they had to turn around decades of drug abuse for the sake of their 3-and-a-half-pound baby.

Both announced that they have been clean ever since.

Jeff Orr of the Trumbull-Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force, said law enforcement agencies in the last 20 years have learned they cannot win the war on drugs only by arresting people.

“We need to change the way we are doing business by developing new strategies, new partnerships, providing better education and mentorship programs for at-risk kids,” he said. “We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Orr described marijuana as a gateway drug.

“Marijuana is always the first drug that leads to others,” he said. “We have to have a community that stops saying it’s not my problem, it doesn’t affect me.”