Talk Soon “My daughter Olivia didn’t wake up one day desiring to be an alcoholic and addict and lose her life at 21. That came about from the friends and choices she made. Olivia took her first drink around age 13. Looking back, there were signs. Her friends changed in middle school; her diaries talk about how badly she wanted to fit in. I once dropped her off at a friend’s house and when I returned, she was so intoxicated with alcohol poisoning that we went straight to the emergency room. Drinking caused Olivia to lose her virginity just before the 8th grade to a high school senior. Then she was so ashamed she drank more and tried to take her own life. Counseling helped for a while, but if she took one drink, she just couldn’t stop. Olivia was a repeat offender, she got arrested, did drugs, wrecked a car, and became involved in an abusive relationship. Despite all the bad things, she still graduated early from high school with wonderful grades. When she wasn’t under the influence, she was sweet and charming and funny. At age 21, Olivia called and asked for help. We got her wait-listed at an in-patient treatment program; she was supposed to call daily to check for an opening. But Olivia stopped calling, thinking she could handle it herself. Three months later, she drove drunk, hit an embankment, and died the next day. Later I learned that the parents one of Olivia’s closest middle school friends allowed kids to drink at home as long as no one was driving. I had no idea, I trusted other parents and put my head in the sand, I never wanted to believe that my daughter had a drinking problem or was less than perfect. Losing Olivia changed our family forever. The simplest things you take for granted become a monumental event, like setting the kitchen table, just holding that extra plate in your hand. I share her story because if one person chooses not to go down that same path, then Olivia’s life and death have purpose. That gives me comfort.” Mother of daughter who died at 21


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