Despite the weather conditions, many people attended the “You Are Not Alone” Event at the YES Cinema in Columbus on Saturday.

I am proud to say that I was one of those people. After all, I had the three main speakers in fifth grade at Hope Elementary School: Chuck Fields, Michael Phelps, and Jacob Kessler. In addition, I had four of the five other important supporting program members in fifth grade:

  • Whitney Kessler Budd, organizer of the event
  • Bria Goode Scott, audiovisual director
  • Aaron Lentz, pastor
  • Avery Tallent, musician.

I did not have Chris Scott-lead musician, but have had the privilege of getting to know him.

While listening as their former teacher, I was thinking about how we had DARE, and how I also insisted on presenting health within our science curriculum even though health was never a focus of ISTEP+. I would like to think something was gained from all of these lessons; however, drug attraction is extremely strong often causing addiction and other problems. Lessons learned at the age of 10 can be forgotten in certain situations later in life.

One lesson was not within our health book. It was developed after watching a movie. I stressed how little monsters can become big monsters and presented a few examples with one being how not doing one assignment can lead to not doing several and then to not completing many which can lead to eventually dropping out of school, not getting a job and other problems. We discussed how once on the spiral down that it just becomes more and more difficult to pull out of it. Students were then asked to share examples, and I was always uplifted by their reflections.

One student, Sara Banta Galbraith, submerged herself in the assignment, and I still have a copy of her work. (Not surprisingly, Sara is now a teacher.)

Chuck, Michael, and Jacob all experienced how little monsters can become big monsters while sharing bits and pieces from their addiction stories. Fortunately, they have pulled out of their downward spirals with all of them extremely thankful, Michael in particular after his life was saved with several doses of Narcan. (As shared, some of their friends have died way too soon due to drug usage.)

Their stories were from their hearts and touched the emotions of all present. They each talked about how their addictions took its toll on them as well as their families, how they never would have turned their lives around without admitting they were in serious trouble and then getting help from an organization like Wheeler Mission as well as God.

Toward the end, they, as well as others, were approached by several in attendance asking them for a handshake, a hug, a Bible verse or a prayer. Undoubtedly, the event made a positive impact on the lives of many during that short span of time and will continue in the future. I am thankful to live in a community which there are many trying to be of assistance! Paraphrasing Whitney, we must find strategies to combat all the drug problems for the sake of our children which really hit me afterward while taking care of my young grandson.

Here on HSJ Online, you will find under the Community heading above some help numbers. One is United Way of Bartholomew County Help Center at 2-1-1.

As we all know, addiction is not just limited to chemical addiction. An article in an Indiana State University publication by Libby Roerig states, “There's been an uptick in research exploring our overuse of technology in its varying forms-social networking, cybersex, online pornography, TV and movie streaming, video gaming, online shopping.”

Indiana State psychology Professor Tom Johnson said, “Anything that causes us pleasure lights up the region of the brain that's involved in reward. Pretty much all drugs of abuse, …, activate that reward area and create a liability for addiction. You're particularly vulnerable if you don't have other ways of lighting up your dopamine system.”

It is my sincere hope that we all focus on healthy ways of rewarding our dopamine system in 2019!