Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am terrified that my son, who is now in yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel, has fallen prey to some bad friends. I don’t know much of the details other than what he tells me, but that is not very much and I don’t want to rush into rash actions or accusations that may be baseless and get him thrown out of yeshiva along with others I suspect who have caused this problem.

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A little over a year ago, just before he graduated high school, my son, an active sports fan, broke his arm playing football with his friends. We rushed him to the hospital where he had to have surgery to set the bone, broken in two places, and had a metal rod inserted to set the bones together. During this time, when he was in severe pain, the doctors prescribed a few tablets for the pain and cautioned him to take them only when he was in the worst pain.

All seemed to be going smoothly, with the broken bone finally healed and the rod removed. *Shaya finished school, went to sleep away camp as a JC, taking great care to be careful and avoid any sport that could hurt the healing arm or cause physical harm as he was due to leave in late August for yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel. Seemingly, all went well and, as planned, we saw him off on his flight for his year of study in yeshiva. We had no reason to worry at that point.

At the beginning, he called us every erev Shabbos and he sounded fine, but not too long after, Shaya asked us to get in touch with his doctor to see if we could get a prescription for more of his pain medication. This seemed odd to us as he had done so well all this time without it. We did make the call to his surgeon, who refused the request saying that over the counter medication should be all he needed to give him relief from any discomfort at this point. When we relayed the message to him and said we were sending him Tylenol and Motrin with friends who were going to Israel, Shaya exploded in anger, hanging up on us. We didn’t hear from him for two weeks.

Upon their return to the States, our friends who had so kindly brought him the medication, said that he looked terrible and that he was in great pain most of the time. They suspected he was on drugs far stronger than what we sent with them.

A week after our friends came back with this news, Shaya’s friend called us and told us that Shaya had fallen in with three boys who were ‘bad news’ and they were supplying him with drugs. He also told us that Shaya had stolen money from him to get the pills and he was no longer on good terms with Shaya but felt we should know.

He also said that if we didn’t get Shaya help, the yeshiva would soon be calling us that Shaya had been caught with drugs or stealing, and were sending him home. Mrs. Bluth, what are we to do? Who should we believe? Is it possible that our son has been hiding this from us and that he really has a drug problem?

 

 

Dear Friend,

I think Shaya has passed the ‘drug problem’ stage and has graduated to full dependency on drugs. He has become addicted and has managed to seek out those who can supply the need, even in Israel, and even at the cost of losing his good friend by stealing from him in order to procure those drugs.

You need to get Shaya home so that you can get him into treatment for his drug addiction. You must also get in touch with the yeshiva and make them aware that some of their staff and talmidim are involved in drug trafficking and sale of drugs within their walls. I am sad to say that this is not the first time I have heard of other families who have experienced what you are going through because some yeshivos abroad turn a blind eye to such goings on.

Your quest to save your son is time-sensitive so don’t waste another moment grasping at false hope that this is just a passing phase.

It only takes one or two pills to get someone young and impressionable to become dependent. Caught early enough and with strong and diligent support from the family, to pursue any avenue of help towards the goal of remission and rehabilitation, success and good quality of life can be achieved. But you must act quickly. Your goal and your focus must be to first extricate your son from the source of his ‘need to feed’ environment and into a therapeutic and health-orientated society who can help him wean off his addiction and relearn good health habits. You must find the strength to withstand this painful and costly journey if you have any hope of seeing your son return to good health.

As for the blind eye of the yeshiva, sad to say, it is no different than yeshivos in the states or anywhere else, that have become a business other than concentrating on the chinuch and physical/spiritual education of our children, giving the weakest kids the accessibility to fall prey to the drug dealers and suppliers of death and destruction. I hope you will be able to achieve your goal of saving your son and seeing him return fully healed and happy once he has been through the system of recovery. There are many organizations today available to help the recovering addict and their family. May you watch Shaya return to good health and walk him to the chuppah in the best of health.

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