Prescription Addiction

My friend Katie has been writing frequently about the scourge of addiction to prescription drugs since her son died of an overdose and beating in May.  And now John and I have been witnessing this almost every day in our work.
Our practice is mostly appointed work–a conscious choice for several reasons, but that’s for another post.  We do a lot of work for parents who have been charged in dependence and neglect cases, and John also acts as Guardian ad Litem for the children in such cases.  Before you say, “Oh, how can you defend people who abuse their kids?” let me tell you that it’s not like what you imagine.  Almost every parent we represent has one major problem which leads to the removal of their children–they are addicted to pain medication.  These are people who love their children, who have never purposely hurt their children, who want to get their children back–which the system makes very difficult indeed.  Perhaps all the money spent on foster care and attorneys and DCS workers in these cases would be better spent on treating the problem and helping maintain the families instead of tearing them apart?  I don’t know, but I wonder.
Yesterday we got word that one of our clients, the father of four, died of an overdose.  His children had been taken away from him for the second time because of drugs.  I spoke with this man on the phone more than once.  He loved his kids and was trying to do what he needed to do to get them back.  Now he is gone.
One of the many dangers of these drugs is that they are so accessible.  If you’ve had surgery recently chances are you have a few in your cabinet right now.  My cat broke his leg this week, and the vet warned me to keep his painkillers in a safe place if anyone ever comes in my house who might have a prescription addiction problem.  Can you imagine being so desperate that you would try to get high on cat medicine?   I can’t, but growing numbers of people can–and it’s a problem that is not going away on its own.

Mary Elizabeth Higgins Carroll, 1918-2008

I was blessed with the obligation and opportunity to write Mima’s obituary, which follows.
Mary Elizabeth Higgins Carroll, age 89, died January 30 at her home. She was a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church for over 50 years. 
 Elizabeth was born to the union of Mary Becker Hagan of Mobile, Alabama and Walter Martin Higgins of Louisville, Kentucky on October 11, 1918. She was one of five children; her brothers, John Higgins, Brigadier General Walter Higgins, and Major James Higgins preceded her in death. Her sister, Patricia Higgins Harkins of Baton Rouge, Lousiana survives her. Family was everything to her. “Blood is thicker than water,” was one of her favorite sayings. She was very proud of her Irish and Southern heritage.
After attending the University of Chattanooga, Elizabeth married Jesse Willard Carroll on October 16, 1943 in Birmingham, Alabama. They settled in Knoxville and reared two daughters. After her children grew up, Elizabeth worked for the Social Security Administration for many years, retiring in 1980, shortly after the death of her husband.
In her retirement she traveled to France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the Holy Land. She was an excellent and passionate bridge player. She was a gardener who passed her love of growing things to her children and grandchildren.
Elizabeth’s first grandchild christened her “Mima,” and she came to be known as Mima to all her grandchildren’s friends. Generosity was the hallmark of her personality. She crocheted hundreds of afghans for her family, friends, nursing home patients, and newborn babies in need. She was an active member of the Ladies of Charity for many years. Even when two strokes left her in a wheelchair, she would save fruit and candy given to her so that she would have gifts to offer her great-grandchildren when they visited.
Her zest for life was an inspiration to everyone who knew her. She was a woman of strong convictions who always let people know just what she was thinking. Although her first stroke left her with aphasia, she continued to do her best to speak her mind. She acquired a love for seafood as a child spending summers on the Mobile Bay, and shrimp remained her favorite treat. She was confined to a wheelchair for her last four years, but she looked forward to a day when she might walk again. She was still following national politics, and she enjoyed a game of Bingo the night before she died.
She is survived by her daughters and son-in-law: Elizabeth (Beth) Carroll Hunley of Knoxville and Mary Leslie Carroll Dotson and David Dotson of Sevierville; her grandchildren and their husbands: Leslie Hunley Sholly and John Sholly of Knoxville, Melissa Simpson Weatherspoon of Knoxville; Marcia Simpson McCormack and Peter McCormack of Knoxville, Elizabeth (Betsy) Hunley Rueff and Andrew Rueff of Dallas, Jeffrey Simpson of Nashville, Anne Hunley Trisler of Knoxville, and Sarah Simpson Keiser and David Keiser of Nashville; and her great-grandchildren: Emily Sholly, Alexander Langston, John Sholly Jr., Richard Sholly, Zachary Trisler, William Sholly, Ella Trisler, Tristan Weatherspoon, Jadin Weatherspoon, Lorelei Sholly, and Nathan Weatherspoon.
She was a true Southern matriarch and her clan will miss her deeply.
The family will receive friends at Rose’s Mortuary Broadway Chapel Friday evening from 6-8, with a prayer service at 8 followed by the recitation of the Rosary. The Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church by Father Marcos Zamora, C.S.P. on Saturday at 10 a.m. Interment will be at Clark’s Grove Cemetery in Maryville immediately following the Mass. Pallbearers are David Dotson, Richard Hunley, David Keiser, Peter McCormack, Andrew Rueff, John Sholly, Jeffrey Simpson, and Eric Trisler.