Mt. Wolf, Pennsylvania
My story begins as a little girl, when my father’s addiction to alcohol became apparent to the entire family. As my dad spiraled down and his blackouts increased, we all lived in the trauma and turmoil that families go through in this circumstance. The fights--my sitting at the window waiting for my daddy to come home as he went on binges for days. Finally when I was hospitalized with a stomach ulcer from all the stress of living in such traumatizing circumstances, the Doctor told my father that if he didn’t quit drinking, the family stress would kill me. He finally sought treatment at AA, recovered and stayed sober for the rest of his life. Because of what I endured as a child, I made the decision as a little girl to never touch alcohol or drugs and to this day, I remain drug and alcohol-free.
I married and had four children. There was a history of addiction on my side of the family and alcohol and drug addiction on their father’s side. The gene pool was loaded on both ends, so I began educating my children about drugs and alcohol and the impact that addiction had on me when I young, thinking that my story would be enough of a “protective” factor, but I was dead wrong.
As young teens, my children began experimenting with tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol. I sought help and found a tough-love group, but little did I know that drug and alcohol experimentation would escalate and begin to fracture my family. My husband decided to take the boys on a fishing trip to Canada. While helping to pack up, I found alcohol hidden in the tool carrier in back of the truck. I begged him not to take it. He refused and left with the alcohol and our teenage boys; I found out later he had also taken and smoked marijuana in order to “party” with our boys. When I found out I was furious. The tension in our family intensified and we moved closer to a breakdown. In 1997, my daughter came to me and admitted she was using heroin. I was uneducated about this drug and thought, “Angie, if you love me you can quit.” I had no concept of the power of the drug we were dealing with. My daughter said, “Mom, I need this drug like I need air to breathe”. After a few months, an overdose, and much begging on my part, Angie agreed she needed help and signed herself into a treatment facility. She stayed there for a few weeks, but the call of heroin was too great--she left treatment and returned to the drug. She called me a few days later and said she was, “in a black hole she could not get out of.” I begged her to go back to treatment. Angie said she would call me the next day so we could get together and talk. Her phone beeped and said she had to go. Not knowing that this would be the last time we would ever speak, we said our usual, “I love you’s” and signed off. Having had a few weeks clean, Angie’s system could not tolerate the amount of heroin she had been using before treatment. On February 10th my daughter’s body was found near a muddy creek after having been thrown down an embankment by her dealer. My baby girl was gone and I was devastated.
He had left her unconscious on his floor from Monday night until Tuesday night while she struggled to breathe. When the drug dealer got home from a party on Tuesday night, Angie was dead. He didn’t want to be implicated in the death, so he and a friend loaded her into his car and dumped the body. The drug dealer was eventually found and prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter, seven drug violations including three felonies, and abuse of a corpse. He could have gotten fourteen and a half years in state prison. I begged the judge for the maximum sentence for what he did to my daughter, but the judge gave him 1-2 years minus a day to keep him out of state prison. The drug dealer was out on good behavior less than eleven months later. To this day, he is still out there, in and out of jail, using and dealing drugs. I left my job as a dental assistant after my daughter’s death and became a parent/family advocate for treatment and recovery.
Angie was a beautiful girl with a heart of gold, and a smile that would light up a room. She loved to sing around the house and with me at church. She loved dressing up, she loved dressing in jeans and she loved wrestling in the dirt with her brothers. Because of Angie's character, compassion and listening ear, troubled children her age were attracted to her, and she became the go-to person for help. She loved writing and kept journals about what she wanted her life to look like when she grew up. Angie was focused on a career as a journalist. Telling stories was an art for my baby girl and I heard a lot of the stories she would create to get out of trouble! Her one weakness of wanting friends to like her ended up being her downfall. Angie was a follower, and before she knew it, she followed the wrong friends into a life of addiction.