The program tells the story of my son Henry's life, struggle with addiction and his death from drugs on May 31, 2010. Henry was only 18 years old.via Henry's Mom, JusticeForHenry.com
The WBIR special features interviews with many of the people who loved and knew Henry best, although obviously, it wasn't possible to interview every single person who was important in Henry's life. There are lots of people - grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, teachers, friends and counselors who don't actually appear in the show, but who loved Henry a lot and who were loved a lot in return.
I have watched the special in advance of its premiere tonight, and I think it's beautifully done. One point it manages to make very well is that for Henry, particularly by the last 18 months of his life (9 months of which were spent in inpatient addiction treatment), there was nothing "fun" or happy about his drug abuse. It was no longer a situation where a teenage boy was partying with his friends or just looking to have some fun in a dangerous way.
By the last year or two of his short life - after Henry became involved with the prescription drugs that eventually killed him - Henry was physically and mentally addicted. Every day for him became a painful, depressing, terrible struggle to find a way to procure enough of the chemicals that day that would keep him from becoming very sick with withdrawal. He told me that once he started using the pills, he woke up every morning determined not to use that day, but went to sleep every night feeling like a complete failure.
I hope that viewers come away from watching Henry's Story tonight understanding that drug addiction - real drug addiction like that which tormented my teenage son - is not a "lifestyle choice" that ANYONE would make. No teenage boy with a loving family, a good education and all the opportunity in the world ahead of him is CHOOSING to hang around outside of homeless shelters in the afternoons, trying to score a fix from other homeless people because that's a fun thing to do. That "lifestyle" is not some sort of careless teenage partying (which is where his addiction started).
No, in fact Henry's life as a drug addict was - for him - depressing, dangerous, humiliating, painful and ultimately, fatal. My teenager's addiction pulled him away from everything he had known - loving parents and siblings, a comfortable home, good schools, family travel, music and community - and launched him into a frightening underworld of dangerous, cruel people and places who were able to prey on my child because he was both naive and desperate. He was sick. That's all there was to it; Henry was very, very sick.
Now, almost two years later, the hope of someone being taken off the streets for dealing to minors may be in jeopardy:
Yesterday, local citizens, including our family, learned for the first time via a newspaper article that Laurie Pelot Gooch has now struck a plea deal related to her arrest and indictment last September on three separate drug dealing charges.Continue to read story here: Time To Speak Out.
In this newspaper article, which in every way minimized the seriousness of Ms. Pelot Gooch’s history and and criminal acts, we also learned that the Hon. Judge Steven Sword has until June 15 to decide whether Ms. Pelot Gooch – the daughter of an affluent and prominent local family with powerful political ties – will serve serve any jail time whatsoever for her crimes.
Ms. Pelot Gooch’s arrest came as a direct result of me approaching the Knoxville Police Department in the spring of 2011 with specific information I had regarding her active, longtime drug trafficking activity in this community, including her dealing to my own son. KCSO simply wouldn’t listen to me (or even take my calls or return my emails), so I requested a meeting with KPD officials, who DID listen to the information I provided.
After hearing my information, KPD then launched their own, independent, thorough and professional investigation of Ms. Pelot Gooch’s activities, resulting in her arrest and indictment on drug dealing charges only 3.5 months later.
Since Ms. Pelot Gooch’s arrest in September of 2011, I have contacted the Office of Knox County DA Randy Nichols several times by phone and email, attempting to let the prosecutor assigned to Ms. Pelot Gooch’s case understand the larger context in which this person had been arrested. I explained that I could put him in touch with other local moms who would tell him in specific detail how Ms. Pelot Gooch dealt their high school age kids drugs and provided alcohol out of her West Hills home for years prior to her arrest. One of these mothers even spoke on the record to KPD during their investigation, but before they arrested Pelot Gooch in a sting on tape.
As a parent, please read about the struggles of the family and his death. Something doesn't seem right about the whole thing and, knowing how bad the drugs are in our area just north of where this happened, I wouldn't be surprised if the police aren't doing their jobs to the fullest ability.
I don't like the idea of someone being out there to target minors, teenagers, someone's child. I have personal reasons why I do not believe in doing drugs, but I know that not everyone does.
Maybe this one story will be able to help someone out there in their own personal battle understand that it is more than just a personal battle, it's a deep and emotional battle with everyone you love and, especially, for everyone that loves you.