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Father tells tragic tale of son's death from drugs

  1. BitterSweet
    Mark Rudolph's son Ryan started with prescription drugs.

    That evolved into heroin use, leading to a phone call received by Ryan's mother.

    “This is not a joke. We're sorry. There was nothing we could do. Your boy is dead and you can find his body between St. Jean and Conner, East Warren and Mack,” the voice said. The Rudolphs received that phone call Oct. 20, 2007.

    Ryan had been released from jail a day early due to overcrowding and was scheduled to attend a court-ordered rehabilitation for 14 months, but wanted to do heroin one more time, Mark Rudolph said of his son.

    “We don't know what was going on in his mind,” Rudolph said.

    Rudolph discussed his son's death with parents and attendees at “What You Don't Know Can Hurt You: An Update on Synthetic Drugs” Monday night at North Farmington High School. This free parent and student forum was co-hosted by North Farmington High School PTSA, Dunckel Middle School PTSA, Farmington High School PTSA and Harrison High School PTSA.


    Rudolph said many kids start using prescription drugs stolen from a relative, like Ryan did, then progress into the harder drugs, like heroin. Rudolph has created an organization and is executive director of Families Against Narcotics and established a website at promise2ryan.com, dedicated to the memory of his son and aimed at families to educate them about drug use in children.

    Law enforcement officials said that K2 and Spice synthetic drug use has calmed down since legislation was approved earlier this year. Robert Schulz, director of public safety for Farmington, said prescription drugs are the “biggest issue” in terms of drug use among young people. Farmington Hills Police Chief Chuck Nebus cited the horrific impacts of synthetic drugs in the murder of Robert Cipriano. An attorney for Tucker Cipriano, accused of killing his father, said Tucker was under the influence of synthetic drugs.

    Nebus said that incidents involving synthetic drugs, which were up in May or June, “fell off” for police when the synthetic drugs were banned and removed from store shelves. But manufacturers still can spray a different chemical on the synthetic drugs and market it.

    Nebus believes that Internet information often gives the impression that marijuana use is harmless.

    “If you are a parent and you are Googling ‘marijuana,' you will find out a lot of information that says marijuana is OK,” he said. Many groups are pushing for the legalization of marijuana. “They all want you to sign up for information and to send them money.” Nebus said the 63 percent of Michigan voters who approved medical marijuana use two years ago found that “it didn't turn out like they thought it would.”

    Prescription drug use

    Nebus said more people die from prescription drugs than from heroin and cocaine in the United States. “Prescription drug fatalities doubled between 2000 and 2008,” he said.

    But Nebus also sees some good things in the war on drugs. High school students are half as likely to use marijuana as they did in 1978 and overall drug use is down 24 percent in the last decade. “Ninety-one percent of society doesn't use drugs,” he said.

    Dr. Sanford Vieder, chairman and medical director of the Emergency Trauma Center at Botsford Hospital, said prescription drug use occurs at “bowl parties” where kids take a prescription drug from their home, bring it and place it in bowl with other pills brought by other kids. Combine heart pressure pills, cardio or painkillers with alcohol, and the dangers increase, Vieder said. And doctors are left in a quandary on how to treat patients in an emergency room when they don't know what they've ingested, he said.

    “You rarely ever know what has been taken,” Vieder said. “Often it's guesswork on what has been taken.”

    What is called synthetic marijuana is not marijuana at all, Vieder said. “This stuff makes people psychotic; it makes them crazy,” he said.

    Vieder also told parents to stay connected through verbal and face-to-face conversations. “We do so much in our lives that we think we are connected,” he said, citing iPhones and text messages as a means of communication between parents and children. “Talk to them, talk to them, talk to them and don't stop talking to them. It can't be by text messages and email.”

    John Cotter, a psychologist, said parents can learn the signs of drug use. They should look for declining grades, secrecy of possessions, shutting down accessibility and whispers in conversations with friends. “There is nobody who knows your kids like you do,” he said. “You have to trust your judgment and pay attention.

    When things don't seem right, “trust your judgment and investigate,” Cotter said.

    Rudolph also brought a 23-year-old woman identified as “Sara.” She spoke to the audience of a best friend who died of a drug overdose. She spoke of her younger sister, who was asked by the older brother of a friend when she was only 12 years old if she wanted to shoot up. Seeing people die of drug overdoses made her change her thought processes.

    She encouraged a close friend to go to rehab. “She slowly cut off all the contact we had, but I wanted to help her, open my arms and give her unconditional love,” Sara said. “I was there for her. I was very fortunate because I believe I helped her. I learned not to judge anyone and it helped me make better decisions.”

    Narcotics Anonymous can help addicts, she said.

    Students told to ‘tell someone'

    Panelists spent several minutes answering questions from the audience. Rudolph responded to a student's question about how to help a drug user. “If you know someone you trust, tell someone,” Rudolph said. “Tell someone you trust and try to hand it off.”

    Schulz said their are excellent social workers at the high schools.

    Karen Bonnano, a volunteer with Livonia Save Our Youth, suggested that parents host safe activities at home for their children and friends. On Friday nights after basketball games, the Bonnanos hosted their son's basketball team, parents and their children's friends for a spaghetti dinner at their home, which evolved into what was eventually tagged the “Spaghet-together.”

    Afterward, parents and students appreciated the messages brought that evening. “It was a good program, but there were not enough attendees,” said Tracey Allen of Farmington Hills. She brought her son, Brad Schwartz, an 11th-grader at North Farmington. Brad said the program was interesting, but what struck him was the story related by Rudolph and the phone message that his son was dead.

    “It's crazy to even hear that, to think that that would happen, that he was found dead in Detroit,” Brad said.

    James and Tiffany Weekley of Farmington Hills also attended. “I loved hearing the perspective of parents who are involved with their children and the questions of who, what and where,” James Weekley said. One panelist suggested parents ask who their children are with, what are they doing and where are they.

    Weekley said their children are active in sports. “We're firm believers that idle minds create the wrong kids of opportunities,” he said. “We try to keep them busy with their activities.”

    Read the article here.


  1. runnerupbeautyqueen

    I hear about this all the time but does anyone have any first or even second hand proof that these "bowl parties" have ever happened? It sounds like a scene from some show on the WB, like Gossip Girl or Degrassi or whatever the new trendy edgy show is for middle schoolers. High school kids aren't that stupid. Why would anyone take some xanax or oxy and throw them in a bowl to maybe pull out some asprin and antibiotics instead? And it's not hard to read a pill bottle and figure out that you can't get high off of amoxicillin, so why would you bring it to a party? When I was in high school my bible was The Complete Guide To Pills. Surely I'm not the only person who would be at one of these mythological "bowl parties" IDing the pills and taking the good ones.

    If a party like this has ever existed it was probably the first and last time it did. I can just imagine all the parents reading this article and thinking "oh dear" and then laying awake at night picturing their ten year old at a party, elbows deep in a bowl of pills. So they lock their kid up in the house which is where the pills for these "bowl parties" came from in the first place.

    I call bullshit.
  2. BitterSweet
    I know, such good points runnerup. I've never heard or seen one of these "bowl parties" and this is a classic example of how kids and teenagers are made to seem dumber than they actually are. I'd love to attend a party and trade someone an aspirin for a painkiller. If someone ends up in the ER having taken some unidentified prescription med, this is most likely not the precursor to not knowing or remembering what the pill was.

    It is not as easy as throwing a few good natured after-sports events to keep kids and teens clean. When I was a teenager, if my friends and I ever got stuck at some event like this, would be counting down the hours till we could leave and get drunk. Such cliche, run-of-the-mill tips for keeping kids off of drugs.
  3. Maxfrombx
    Listening to them and creating rapport is probably more important than "talk to them, talk to them"
  4. usually0
    This articles seems to be spreading some harmful information. I've never heard of these bowl parties, and I'm unsure of why anyone would willingly and knowingly participate in one. Frankly I don't think it actually occurs, but if anyone reading this goes home and tries it thinking other teens do it, it could be a problem. Heart medications and cardiovascular medications are not recreational drugs, and i do not know why anyone would treat them as such. But in any sense, it'd be dumb to mix together a whole bunch of medications, let alone recreational drugs. And dunno why anyone would throw their pills in a bowl only to share amongst friends, why wouldn't you just distribute them evenly and safely without mixing medications together, especially like opiates and alcohol, etc.
  5. Fohupe
    When I've read of the bowl parties my first thought was to comment on it as well - and it looks like others think the same thing.

    I have never heard of these. No one I knew was dumb enough to pop a bunch of pills they didn't know. Google is only a couple clicks away on most phones these days. Furthermore, who takes high blood pressure meds for kicks? You gotta be REALLY hurting to do that and probably partially retarded.

    While I am not for taking drugs as it CAN ruin lives if it goes un-managed, I also wish that the anti-drug propaganda would stop talking like they can fool people. The people that WOULd believe this crap probably don't use drugs anyway and those that probably need the most help are usually street smart enough to smell the BS....

    Just my 2 cents.
  6. SpatialReason
    Bowl parties exist: each person brings a bud and packs it in a bowl... That's my kind of bowl party. :)

    Jeez... what are people thinking? Even the best kids do drugs. Still until this day I love pulling this on people I trust and watching them just utter "but you were such a good kid." So drugs make you a super villain apparently? :|

    What they have to recognize is the wholesome activities that they speak of, the "protection of the kids," and all of that crap is just a hilarious cover-up for the one person in the group sitting there smiling knowing very well they just snorted bath salts in the bathroom at the "Spaghet-together" (LOL) that they mentioned in this article. I mean let's all be reasonable. You all know from experience this is a lot of the times the case. A person can choose to do drugs and be a good person (or look like a good person if that is the case), and it is still just a matter of how bad they let it get. Yes, drugs will kill you if you do it wrong. So can food.

    Any "concerned parent" that reads what I am saying: I am the realist. When you send your kids to college as you hope to do, they will enter the sanctuary of unabated narcotic fun. Will they try stuff? Probably so. Will they come out safe, healthy, and sound? That is up to them.
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