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Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts

Write a book about a topic, and instantly you’re an expert.  Or people think you are.

I often am asked questions that are better directed to those far more knowledgeable.  What is your opinion about legalizing marijuana?  How about programs that give addicts medication?  What about needle exchanges?

My answer is, typically, I am neither Policy-maker nor Expert.  I am one mom with one story.

Recently, I took part in a panel discussion on addiction where there were, indeed, experts.  Entitled “Not My Child,” the countywide program seeks to educate parents, students, teachers, nurses, doctors – everyone – about the opioid crisis and what they can do, mostly, to end it.

Panelists included police and fire personnel, the county prosecutor and health department staff.  All were passionate, eloquent and very pointed in their remarks.  Many are worth noting:

  • “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem.”
  • “Denial is deadly.”
  • “It’s never too early to talk to your kids.”

But what made this panel even more memorable was the expert seated beside me.

He was a police major and a regular with the group.   Awaiting my turn, I glanced down the row of speakers.  Everyone was far more experienced with addiction than I.  I have one experience.  They have hundreds, possibly thousands.

An odd, subtle movement caught my eye.  Next to me the police officer was leaning forward, elbows resting on the table.  The motion was coming from his hands.  Slowly, methodically, he was twisting his fingers over his palms, manipulating his thumbs in a slow massage, pausing, and then continuing to wring and twist.

Was he anxious about speaking?  Surely he’d addressed countless audiences.  An annoying habit?   Maybe he wrings his hands back at the barracks where his guys tease him.  Or maybe his wife stopped trying years ago to break this odd little habit.

I looked farther down the table.  The fire chief was doing the same.

There beside me sat two uniformed men, elegant and starched.  Sworn to protect and serve, they likely witness wrenching scenes of addiction’s cruel and tragic endings.

And there they sat, part of the panel of experts, their very presence projecting authority, confidence and calm….

…except for the wringing of their hands.

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