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David Reed Duncan, 18 laughingly called himself The Beast because he had grown to be six foot five inches and over 200 pounds. He had a loving and playful spirit. Here, perhaps playing a bit of air guitar...
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The sun seemed to have disappeared on March 20, 2011, the first day of spring. It snowed all day, leaving heavy drifts and splitting trees in half from the snow load. Pinon forests were broken into pieces as limbs came down all over the mountain, often taking power lines with them.
By David and Lisa Duncan in an interview with Patric Hedlund
Note to our readers:
Toxicology reports in the death of David Reed Duncan, 18 have returned. Because his mourning parents had published a strikingly beautiful, loving and honest memorial statement about the death of their child, we called to discuss the results with them. They had a caring message to share with other parents.
First, let’s remember: The first day of spring, March 20, 2011, began with the most relentless and destructive blizzard the Mountain Communities had seen in 25 years. Snowloads were so heavy that trees split apart and power lines fell over. Telephones stopped working in many places. The snow did not stop all day
By the afternoon, teachers David and Lisa Duncan, who work at Valencia High School, needed to get to an accreditation meeting. The family lives in Frazier Park, above the rock houses, not far from Fire Station 57.
Their son David, six feet five and over 200 pounds, laughingly called himself "The Beast," because of his size. He tried to help them push their car out of the snow. It was impossible. But, in trying, the young athlete injured a shoulder on which he’d had surgery. He helped his parents carry their things through the snow to Frazier Mountain Park Road where they were able to borrow a four-wheel drive truck to get to the city.
At 7:30 p.m. young David and his brother called their parents. He said the pain in his shoulder was terrible. He asked if he could take something for the pain.
Because he was in a substance abuse recovery program, they asked his brother, 15 to count out the Vicodin in their prescription bottle. There were 22. He was allowed to take one, which he did. This is where the voice of his father, also named David, comes in:
"David had become extremely transparent. We had to search his room regularly and give him drug tests. We’d gone through a long process to get to where he was at the Action Substance Abuse Program. He’d gone through the advancement ceremony. Action is for teenagers with addicton problems, from obsessive cutting through alcohol.
"Our son’s problem was marijuana. We were doing testing for marijuana and nicotine-so he wouldn’t trade one addiction for another. He went to three Action meetings a week, plus Twelve Step meetings. He had completed Step 4: Recognize the harm you’ve done to others and make amends for it. We found his list of ‘bad things’ he had done and needed to make amends for. He had called a friend ‘fat’ and made her feel bad. That was the worst thing, along with hurting his mom and dad. He’d taken drugs and lied and said something to make his friend feel bad. He felt remorseful. It was a big deal to him….”
Lisa Duncan, David’s mother, recalls her experience: “You cannot turn a blind eye today to what is going on. I grew up in a very religious household with four sisters. I had no experience in this world of addiction and drug use. I work in a high school, I work with kids all day long. I can see it in other kids, but I couldn’t seee it in my own son until he was caught at school.
“My husband and I went through a year going to Action and rehab and parent outpatient groups. Drugs are just so out there right now. Kids can’t get away from it.
“David [who went to Valencia High School, where his parents teach] said, ‘Mom, they were at me from the moment I walked into school, and I finally said yes.’
“In Valencia there are kids with low supervision and money. That is a recipe for a drug problem. No one is free of it in schools. It is everywhere. It is coming at them so much that kids are probably going to try it.
“The marijuana of today is much stronger than the pot of an earlier generation. It is very strong, and very addictive. It is a gateway to everything else. David relapsed in November by takng six Vicodin, an hour apart, over six hours. There is a notion among parents that because it is a prescription drug, it is not an addiction, but it is a gateway like everything else. We considered it a relapse in November.
“For me, I didn’t come from that world. The parent support group was important to me. I had no idea how to parent for an addiction." Continued Next Week
This is part of the June 10, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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