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The Power of Addiction:
An Interview with Kim & Marissa Manlove

Kim & Marissa Manlove
Kim & Marissa Manlove.

On Thursday, June 8, 2006 hundreds of people will come to DEA headquarters to take part in a candlelight vigil to remember those who have died from drugs. Two parents who will share their story will be Kim and Marissa Manlove. Kim and Marissa's son David died from inhalant abuse in 2001. His story and the details of the vigil can be viewed by clicking here.

DEA spoke with Kim and Marissa about life since the loss of their son and about what they are doing to help ensure other parents do not have to go through the pain they carry with them every day.

The following are excerpts from our conversation:

On the message they have been sharing with parents...

"We have always felt from the beginning that our story was about the power of addiction. When our son, David died, he was inhaling computer wasn't his drug of choice, but the drug of opportunity.

His death has absolutely changed our lives forever. When a young person dies like this it has such an impact on everyone who surrounded him. We never would have dreamed that this is what our life would look like today. We were just your normal family in a suburb of Indianapolis, which didn't fit the normal stereotype of the type of family who would be dealing with substance abuse.

Parents need to know that drugs do not discriminate."

David Manlove.
David Manlove.

Regarding a video they produced about their son, David...

"It is an 18-minute video which we had originally hoped would be used in high schools, middle schools, church's a video of not just Marissa and I, but our other son, Josh, David's girlfriend and six of his friends also appear in it. The way it turned out, we have been really pleased because it seems to relate on a number of levels, not just the parental, but the brother, friend and girlfriend level as well. We have used it over the last several years in a number of settings."


To view a clip from the video, "Just Your Normal High School Boy," click here.

On a counseling group they started just for parents...

"David died in June 2001. The following spring, Fairbanks, the treatment facility we had taken David to, invited us to talk to other families. Fairbanks was looking to create a program with a family focus. One thing led to another and now we lead a support group just for parents, no professional counselors are in the room, just survivors. We meet about once a week for one and a half hours for families whose kids are going through treatment, have gone through treatment, or need treatment.

It has been a tremendous source of support for us personally and it has given us a deeper understanding of the disease David had and the challenges he was facing. It was also an opportunity for us to share our experiences and what we have learned with other parents. There are hard decisions parents have to make when they are facing this disease with their kids. Some of the things we do as parents are in fact the absolute worse thing you can do which can lead to unintentionally enabling the disease to progress. It's important for parents to talk about drugs with their children and this forum gives them the opportunity to ask other parents about what questions to ask their kids."

A personal and now, a professional journey too...

Kim Manlove: "I left my job at a university where I spent 26 years to accept a position at Fairbanks. I am now working in the field of substance abuse education for young adults. This journey has brought me personally into a whole new field where I can devote more time to what has become a passion of mine."

Additionally, Kim writes a blog for Partners for a Drug Free America:

Marissa Manlove: "I have joined the board of a charter public school in Indianapolis - a school with a very special focus. It is going to be a recovery high school for students who are looking for a learning environment where they can get the kind of support they need in recovery. It is not meant to be a treatment program per say, it's for students who have gone through that and are now in recovery.

"One of the hardest things, and that is what we certainly experienced with David, is just how hard it is for kids to remain in recovery when they go back to whether it is their same old high school or a different one. The challenge is so great because statistics show that within the first day, sometimes within the first hours of returning to a high school setting, the student gets offered their drug of choice or a drug of some sort. It just poses a huge challenge for kids."

For more information about the school, Hope Academy at Fairbanks, click here.

On the Candlelight Vigil...

"The thing that resonated with us regarding the vigil is the idea of collateral damage substance abuse can have on families and friends. 1 in 4 families is affected by substance abuse and their lives like ours are changed forever. But because of the stigma and denial in our society about this disease, it's really not recognized at the level of other diseases. We want to elevate the level of awareness. It's tough to find a person who does not know someone in their lives who has been affected by drugs. But nobody talks about it because of the shame that comes with the stigma attached to substance abuse."


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