'Miracle' spurs parents to help others fight drug abuse in Westmoreland County
When Chris Maxim's 16-year-old son Joey got into a car driven by an intoxicated friend who had been arrested for drunken driving four days earlier, his life changed forever.
After they left a party, the car was involved in a crash.
“I got the call my son was nonresponsive and was being flown to Allegheny General Hospital,” Maxim said.
Doctors said Joey had little chance of survival. He was taken off life support, yet he lived.
“He was a miracle,” Maxim said. “I believe God has a plan for him.”
Maxim and her husband, Joseph, of Murrysville founded Young Overcomers United to educate teens and parents about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
In response to the surge in drug overdose deaths caused by prescription drugs and heroin in Westmoreland County, the Maxims are sponsoring a drug forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Cornerstone Ministries on Route 22 in Murrysville.
The forum is aimed at parents and teenagers who attend Franklin Regional, Penn-Trafford and Kiski Area schools.
More than 1,200 people attended a drug summit Thursday at Hempfield Area High School with David Mineta, deputy secretary of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The summit was sponsored by the Hempfield Area school board, which has been wrestling with drug problems.
The Maxims created Young Overcomers United and began working with young addicts in their home.
The program has evolved into a 10-step recovery program.
Although the forum coincides with the release of a coroner's office report this month that shows drug overdose deaths are on pace to set a new record in the county, Maxim said the timing is coincidental.
“I even had rose-colored glasses on,” she said. “As a parent, you want to think the best of your kids. We want parents to take the blinders off and let them know if your child is using drugs. Even though there is trouble, there is hope.”
The White House drug office reports that a major cause of addiction and drug overdoses is prescription drugs.
Some teens raid their parents' medicine cabinets, gathering drugs such as Ritalin, Tylenol with codeine, Xanax, Vicodin, Adderall and Valium and holding a “Skittles Party.”
The multicolored pills are placed in a bag, and party-goers take turns reaching into the bag and swallowing whatever pill they select without considering the ramifications.
The path to heroin starts with prescription drugs, Mineta said.
The National Survey on Drug Use & Abuse found that one-third of all 12-year-olds who used drugs for the first time used prescription medications.
“It's been a problem for years,” Mineta said. “People are not realizing how bad it is.”
Many parents refuse to believe there is serious drug abuse in their children's schools, Maxim said.
Coroner Ken Bacha said last week his office investigated 78 drug overdose deaths in 2012. Twenty were linked to prescription pain medications, he said. The office has investigated 17 overdose deaths so far this year.
Greensburg-based Excela Health reported treating another 400 drug overdose cases in its emergency rooms last year.
The Cornerstone forum will feature teenage addicts in recovery speaking to their peers rather than government or elected officials, she said.
“We wanted to bring real-life stories,” Maxim added. “People see addiction as shameful. In every family, someone is either a drug addict or an alcoholic.”
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Route 119 ramp to Route 819 to be closed in July
- Fire extinguished at Smithton commercial building
- Hempfield dentist-turned-missionary-turned-author offers advice for youths
- Former Mt. Pleasant sex offender to stay behind bars while wife hunts for home
- Westmoreland County Community College loses technology center architect
- Vehicle break-ins reported in Derry, Ligonier townships
- Judge approves $1.7 million sale of former Ligonier Valley school
- Confederate flags likely to get tough to find as manufacturers stop production
- Last barrier to Monsour Medical Center demolition about to fall
- North Huntingdon man, 76, pleads guilty to assault on student
- Greater Latrobe grad dies in wreck on winding road