Chicago Tribune

Buffalo Grove parents get reality check at drug confab

By Jennifer Peltz
Tribune Staff Writer

Connie Wayman, 42, the mother of a high school sophomore, remembers students using drugs in her own school days. She was not naive about drugs, or so she thought. But Tuesday, much to her surprise, she found herself at Buffalo Grove High School, sitting with other parents, talking about drug abuse in the aftermath of the death of senior Ryan Fried from a suspected heroin overdose. As parent Stacey Ennes put it, When you think about all the drug awareness, supposedly, it’s amazing that kids would even try this…You feel maybe you’ve missed something. The two were talking at one of three meetings at the school Tuesday for students and parents to try to make sense of Fried’s death and other drug-related incidents in the suburbs over the last few months. A student in Arlington Heights died a few days after Fried of a suspected overdose of an opiate similar to heroin. Earlier in the summer, two teenagers in McHenry and Dupage Counties died within a week of each other of overdoses of paramethoxyamphetamine, or PMA, a powerful stimulant they apparently mistook for the better drug Ecstasy. Then, a 20-year-old DuPage County man died after he apparently ingested PMA, cocaine and heroin. The deaths prompted state lawmakers to propose increasing penalties for dealers of Ecstasy and other club drugs. The meetings involved all 2,100 students, who heard Lynn Kesselman, 61, a Florida drug counselor and recovering alcoholic.

While students have had drug education sessions since grammar school, Principal Carter Burns thought Kesselman brought a new approach. Sometimes you have presenters that try to scare them. And then you have the presenters that talk about their own personal experiences. Burns said. We were trying, through the presentation today, to talk a little bit about how to be reflective … and what you can do in terms of seeking out help.Kesselman, a business-suit-with-black-T-shirt guy who describes himself as a ‚Äúspirituality-wellness trainer, runs a rehabilitation program in Ft. Lauderdale and wants to open a clinic in the Chicago area. He believes in attacking drug abuse at its psychological root, he said.

Addictions and other compulsions are all driven by anxieties–feelings that we can’t be what, somehow, we believed we needed to be, he told the students. Don’t do what some people do, which is try to engineer your feelings with the use of drugs. One of two Kesselman clients who spoke put it in simpler terms. I remember not feeling loved enough, feeling left out…and drinking seemed to make it feel better, for a while, said Charles Knight, 30, of Chicago. I urge you to talk about your problems and your feelings, and to be there for someone else.

Read more about Lynn Kesselman and the remarable work he has done over the period of time