/ #drug abuse #drug addiction 

EDITORIAL: Break down the stigma of drug abuse

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When a parent shows the tremendous bravery of coming forward to speak openly about their child’s struggle with drug abuse, they should be congratulated and supported.

And for the most part, that’s exactly what happened to Sean O’Leary after he penned an open letter on his daughter Paige’s experience. He said he felt the need to speak out about a very real problem after the death of Kanata teen Chloe Kotval, 14, apparently from a drug overdose.

“I want people to start talking,” he told _ ** OttawaStart.com ** _ . “We’re just the tip of the iceberg.”

Indeed, people did start talking. He was inundated with e-mails and over 100 people turned out to a public meeting he arranged to talk about the problem.

This is the community, grassroots response he and other parents deserved.

The heartfelt response was visible online, too. Just hours after we published our story on Saturday night, we received dozens of comments, some from people with similar experiences. We collected the best ones in a separate post , but here are some examples:

“My heart goes out to you,” wrote Vicki, a succinct summary of the reaction.

“Thank you Sean O’Leary for having the courage to speak these words. You are braver than I have been,” wrote Candice M. Christmas.

“I feel strongly that it’s voices like yours that can bring this problem out in the open,” wrote Sylvie Haddad, with a moving proclamation: “The conversation must never end.”

We also received a small number of nasty and downright hurtful comments. In the interest of taste and decency, we are choosing not to publish them.

Don’t let this be a difficult conversation, and don’t let it be a short one. O’Leary broke down a lot of barriers last weekend, let’s keep it that way. _ ** – Devyn Barrie, editor. ** _