True anguish is waking up at 3 a.m. to check on your teenager and finding out that he or she has slipped out during the night. It is searching the streets in the dark, knowing that your child is out doing God knows what, and that you are powerless to stop it. It is having that same child look you straight in the eye, smile beguilingly, and swear convincingly that she only went for a 4 1/2 hour walk because she couldn't sleep.It is having to carry your purse around with you in your own home and having to ask your guests to let you lock their purses in the closet, all the while trying not to let them know that you must take this precaution against your own child. Anguish is also being unable to leave home for an evening because you can't face what your teen may do to your home or to himself while you are away. It is sleeping with a deadbolt on your bedroom door to keep out your own child. But above all, it is the abject terror, the pain, and the utter helplessness that engulfs you as you sit by your daughter's bed in the intensive-care ward after another suicide attempt, knowing that your precious baby, the child of your body, is a blight on society and a danger to himself. Only those of us who have lived this kind of life, the life of a parent with a chemically dependent child, can ever hope to understand what we parents of children in KIDS of El -Paso have gone through. All of us have tried various kinds of counseling, hospitals and other treatment programs, wasting piles of money most of us could ill-afford to lose, only to find that our children returned to us more cunning and adept at fooling the adult world, more verbally skilled at chanting the litany of their civil rights when we tried to curtail their destructive activities - activities that, ironically enough, trampled the rights of everyone else. Having lived through this nightmare myself, I rejoice to report that the very child whom I was both afraid for and afraid of, is now a happy, productive, responsible 18-year-old who makes good grades, cares about her family and works hard to make restitution to society. She now has goals for herself and a bright future, something I had stopped even hoping for. I give full credit to KIDS of El Paso for turning my daughter's life around. During her two years of treatment there she had changed from a self-centered child who wanted to die to a young woman who comes home each evening with glowing eyes talking excitedly about how proud she is over her day's accomplishments. I want to go on record as decrying those who talk about being warriors in the battle against drugs, yet who are foremost in the hue and cry against a treatment program in this town that successfully treats teenage drug addicts. The KIDS program is very difficult, but it most certainly is not abusive. A child who graduates from KIDS can be proud, not only of overcoming a base past and learning to live with a compulsion but of having achieved a strong character gained by surmounting tough obstacles. El Paso needs KIDS of El Paso. We have a drug problem here, like it or not, and we owe it to ourselves and our straight children to keep this facility open at all costs.
*** is a parent whose daughter is in the KIDS program. *** believes her daughter's life was saved by KIDS.