Clark’s Story (VIDEO)

first_img November 15, 2016 By: Liz Roderick, Advocate   SHARE  TWEET Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf Clark’s Story (VIDEO) Substance Use Disorder,  The Blog,  Videos On November 2, 2016, Governor Wolf signed legislation to battle Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic. This legislation will strengthen the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, restrict the number of pills that can be prescribed to minors or in emergency rooms, establish education curriculum on safe prescribing, and create more locations for the drop-off of prescription drugs. During this press conference, we heard from Liz Roderick who shared her personal story.As we discuss the opioid epidemic, two words we hear constantly now, an epidemic that is taking almost 100 Americans a day, it’s easy to think of it in abstract terms and as something that happens to other people and other families. It is easy to think “that’s horrible” and change the channel or click to another article. No one thinks it’ll happen to their family. Until it does. You’re then thrown into a club you never wanted to join, with hundreds of thousands of other families who are equally shocked, angry and heartbroken.My name is Liz Roderick and I’m here with my father, David, and daughter Penny to personalize this public health emergency and put a face on the important work that we celebrate today. I am honored to be standing here this afternoon, albeit for sad circumstances, and thank the Governor and his staff again for the chance to share this story. Clark Roderick was my brother. This is his picture. The opioid epidemic happened to Clark.Clark was a true Pennsylvania boy. Grew up in Radnor. Went to Valley Forge Military Academy. Went to the University of Pittsburgh. Clark loved and I mean LOVED the Steelers. He was a friend to so many. He loved animals, had an incredible sense of humor and a contagious chuckle that pulled you in. He stood up for the bullied. He loved drinking tea and building fires. His 6’2 build and loving demeanor made him a real gentle giant.When Clark was 25 he was in an accident that severely hurt his back. And so begins a tale that represents the vast majority of these tragedies. He was prescribed powerful painkillers, got hooked and was never the same. The next 6 years was an endless chase for more drugs and higher highs. He was a heroin addict in less than 18 months. Our family rallied together, we attended family counseling sessions on how to best support him, my parents sent him to rehab three times. The periods of sobriety were heaven for everyone and always gave us hope that he’d pull through and that he’d beat his demons. We let him know at every opportunity that we loved him. We did everything we could to help him with the information we had.Ten months ago, on December 16th, my brother texted me late that night asking me to please call him at 6am the next morning so he wouldn’t miss his shuttle to the airport. He was happy and excited to be coming home for Christmas. He was discussing what movies he was going to watch on his layover and what the schedule would be for the holidays.On December 17th my father drove to the Philly airport to get him and he wasn’t on his flight. The nightmare started then and within hours we all got “the call”. I’d always imagined where I’d be when I got it and had prepared for it for six years. I don’t really remember exactly what was said but his landlord had been able to break the door down with the help of the police and they found my brother on the floor of his bedroom with a tourniquet around his arm. There was melted ice-cream on his nightstand. That detail always stands out to me. He died a few hours after sending me that text message and taking a lethal amount of Xanax and Heroin. My 31-year-old baby brother. Dead.How did we get here? How does a child from a loving home with endless resources and love at his fingertips turn to heroin? This drug and this epidemic and this disease (and it IS a disease) does not discriminate. I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t been personally affected by this plague then you will be if we don’t all fight back. If it can happen to Clark it can happen to anyone. He got sick and lost his way and we as a society ultimately failed him because so much is still left unknown about how to best address these thousands and thousands of cases. No one is safe. We need to improve our policies, our laws and our systems and what we’ve seen here today is a step in the right direction. Please continue to support leaders and programs like the ones celebrated today.The statistic is that this takes 100 Americans a day. These are not junkies. These are not bad people. These are the sick friends and family members of all of us who need our help. My parents lost their son. A pain I cannot even begin to fathom. I lost my brother. He did not deserve to die nor did he want to die.My daughter was born 6 weeks after Clark died and she’ll never know her uncle. I brought her here today to be part of this fight so she can begin to know the dangers of addiction and opioids. It makes me sad that she’ll grow up in a world that he’s not in. I’ll take her to his grave and tell her stories. He’s buried in his Steelers jersey at St. Vincent’s, a cemetery that overlooks where the Steelers hold their training camp. There’s a Terrible Towel on his headstone. I know he’d love that.Clark is your neighbor, your parent, your teacher, your son, your daughter, your friend. His lost battle represents so many others who followed almost identical paths. Let us learn from their lives and let their deaths mean something to the generations that follow. 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