Finding the Courage To Speak After Losing A Son

“My son Ian died of a drug overdose. If this can happen
to him, it could happen to anyone.”

Ginger Katz

The night before Ginger Katz had to face the grim reality of burying her 20-year-old son, Ian, she had a vision. She saw herself setting out on a life-long mission to speak out against the lurking danger that took her son at such an early age – drug abuse and the code of silence that surrounds it.

Ian was a typical American teenager. Young, vibrant and full of life, he was well-liked among his many friends. He was an outgoing, popular student with a bright future. Ian was also very athletic, had a black belt in karate and was a star sports player. He was an integral part of a closeknit family that gave him love and support.

But none of it was enough to keep Ian safe from the lure of drugs. He first experimented in high school with alcohol and marijuana. By his sophomore year in college, his drug use had escalated and Ian was snorting heroin. Most attempts to get Ian into recovery for his heroin addiction ended in failure as Ian continued using drugs and deceiving his family. From stints in treatment centers, to family counseling, even to asking Ian to leave her home in an attempt to force him to save his own life, none of Ginger’s attempts kept her son from using drugs.

Finally realizing that his drug use was a grave mistake and that the responsibility for it was his, Ian came to Ginger in tears asking her for help. He desperately wanted to see a doctor the next morning to finally break free from the hold heroin had on his life. Ginger hoped that all of the time she spent educating herself about drug abuse in an effort to reach out to Ian would finally pay off. The next morning came and brought with it a parent’s worst nightmare:

Ginger found her son lying lifeless in his bed. Ian had died in his sleep just hours before he planned to enter a drug treatment facility. “Mom, I want to go see the doctor in the morning,” were her son’s poignant last words. Shortly after Ian’s funeral in September 1996, Ginger and her husband Larry, Ian’s stepfather, embarked on their newfound mission.

They established The Courage To Speak Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives by stressing the crucial importance of parent-child communication as a means to keep kids drug free. Through her presentations, Ginger reaches teens and their parents as few others can, touching them deeply with the compelling story of her family’s tragic loss into which she weaves up-to-date prevention information. Ginger first appeared before teens with her message in 1997 during an assembly at Ian’s former high school in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Since then, Ginger and her husband have given more than 400 presentations in schools, parent groups, churches and civic organizations across the country and to national conventions of major prevention organizations. “I pass around pictures of Ian and talk about his life,” said Ginger, “bringing them to the moment when I discovered that Ian had died in his sleep. Then, the silence in the room is deafening. After teens hear what it feels like to be a mother losing her child, they take it to heart.”

Ginger’s message to parents is to start talking to their children early and often about the difference between good medicines and harmful drugs before a drug dealer does. She emphasizes the importance of parents arming themselves with information about all the substances their children are exposed to and the challenges they face at school and in social circumstances. “The worst situation you can have,” Ginger said, “is an unsuspecting child and a naive parent who doesn’t think drug addiction will ever happen to their child.” She encourages parents and children to have the courage to speak to one another –about fears, drugs, or any other issue. When they do, they create an opportunity for honesty and healing.

By sharing with teens a very personal portrait of her son’s life, Ginger wants Ian’s story to illuminate their path when they are faced with the decision to use drugs. She wants them to remember the pain associated with drug abuse and how it took her son’s life because he did not understand what could really happen to him if he used drugs.

Today, Ginger continues sharing Ian’s story with those who need to hear it most – parents and teens. She has recently developed Courage To Speak Drug Prevention Curriculum for Middle Schools now being implemented in the seventh grade health classes of many local schools. The organization is adapting the program for elementary and high schools for implementation in the coming school year. In addition, Ginger’s organization provides a support group for parents who have lost children to drugs and receives calls from all over the country. The Courage To Speak also offers a service referral line and an informative Web site for parents and children. Ginger finds personal strength in her passions, such as writing in her journal. A lifelong athlete, she encourages children to find their own healthy passion as she participates and organizes local basketball and other sporting events in Connecticut. She says she never thought she would find the will to continue living after losing her beloved Ian, but she has found strength in these cherished passions in her life. She will continue to bring her “courage to speak” message to children and parents as long as they are willing to listen.

Ginger Katz will serve as a Partnership parent partner, reaching out to other parents through the Partnership’s Web site, along with a group of about a dozen other parents who have also lost children to substance abuse.To find out more about the Courage To Speak Foundation, contact Ginger Katz at or (877) 431-3295.

The article below comes from the USA – it is a shocking example of the way the ‘entertainment’ media is reaching children and young people.If you are a parent you should know that there is an increasing number of websites easily accessed by
young people which promote porn, glamourise drug dealing and have a subliminal influence on youth.Check out the British watchdog for such content on television by visiting

Source: Partnership for a Drug-Free America

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