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Death of A Child from Drug Addiction Drove Father to Get Treatment

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Nothing can quite equate to the pain and sorrow felt after the death of a child.  Kim and his wife Marissa Manlove lost their son, David, as a result of his battle with drug addiction 14 years ago, in the summer of 2001. The tragedy has driven the family to raise awareness about addiction, and Kim even sought help for his own addiction as a result.

Death of A Child: David’s Addiction

During the summer of 2001, David headed to a rehabilitation facility called Fairbanks in his home state of Indiana.  His mother, Marissa, explained what happened right before he went to treatment, saying, “He was still just 15 then…it was a combination of marijuana and alcohol…he was just out of his head.”  Kim interrupted briefly, “His reality was altered.”  Marissa continued, “I didn’t know what all he had taken that night.  The very next day was when we went to Fairbanks for an evaluation and were shocked at what they said the extent of his drug use and alcohol use was.”

David was in treatment for 6 months receiving therapy sessions, attending 12-step fellowship meetings, and coming to accept his drug addiction.  By June, he had found a job and was working on rebuilding trust with his parents and his older brother, Josh.  Josh reflected on when his brother was drinking and using drugs, recalling, “I saw it…I’d be at home…he’d tell me and he’d beg me not to tell them and of course I didn’t, wanting to be ‘the cool older brother.’”

On the outside looking in, it seemed like David was doing great.  However, addiction is a cunning, baffling, and powerful disease.  David was still getting high off computer duster, but this was unable to be traced in his urine when he was tested for drugs.  Dave and some friends heard that huffing the duster while underwater could get them even higher, so on June 9, 2001, they decided put it to the test.

The group went to one of the friend’s pools in the back of their home and David went underwater several times – until he didn’t return to the surface for air the last time.  Dave had died.  The coroner’s report read the young boy’s death was from drowning due to sudden sniffing death syndrome.  SSDS is when the heart stops working due to overactivity from inhalant abuse of household products like computer duster, nail polish, paint thinner, gas, glue, spray paint, and other toxins.

How it Affects Family and Friends

An unnamed friend suggested peer pressure played a role in Dave’s drug use. “All of us can say, ‘David, don’t do that…don’t do that,’ but then there’s that other group that says, ‘Come on, man…do it with us.’  There’s another group that he was hanging with that were doing that stuff, he said.

“I desperately wanted to cling to every aspect of [Dave’s] being,” Kim reflected on what the death of a child is like.  “I was so blinded by my grief that I was incapable of being able to see beyond the sudden and seemingly irrevocable absence of his physical presence.”  Kim took his son’s death hard.  He began drinking tequila and abusing Xanax just a couple years after his death.

When Kim realized he was going to several doctors for prescriptions, it was apparent he had a problem.  He knew he had to go to Fairbanks, so he did.  Kim claims he had two uncles suffer from alcoholism.  Addiction is a family disease, and when there are relatives in the family that have had substance use problems, there is greater likelihood for other family members to struggle if they drink and/or drug as well.

Marissa was sure to clarify as a warning to others who know someone struggling with addiction, “The disease of addiction is so powerful that [death] is not an unrealistic consequence.”  Later she clarified, “What we learned [about addiction] is that the use of alcohol or marijuana or the chemical or the substance of choice… if it interferes with your daily life, if you spend lots of time planning when you’re gonna use it, how you’re gonna use it, who you’re using with, what it’s going to take in order to get it to use… those are some of the things that tell you that its become a disease.”

Learn more about Kim and Marissa’s foundation, The 24 Group.

Are you suffering from an alcohol and/or drug addiction?  Build up the courage to pick up the phone and call The Addiction Recovery Center today because it could save your life.  Contact for help now.  You are worth a life of recovery.

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