Despite the heart-wrenching, devastating loss of her 20-year-old daughter who died in a gas station bathroom after using heroin, a local mother showed extraordinary courage last week in reliving the story during a meeting sponsored by the Crescenta Valley Town Council.
Perhaps Hannah Spring Sheklow’s recount of the struggles her late daughter, Elannah Rose, will help save other parents from the same grief she endured. But while the meeting at the La Crescenta Library drew about 100 people of varying ages, word needs to be spread even further. There is no question that heroin, marijuana and alcohol are being abused by kids as young as late elementary school, on into high school and beyond. But the signs of substance abuse can sometimes be missed by parents and guardians until addiction takes hold. Even then, symptoms can all too easily be ascribed to some other ailment.
Elannah Rose Sheklow was a high-functioning addict in a family with strong values. Her parents saw to it that family dinners were held. They knew her friends, they monitored her schoolwork and talked to her about all the important things, including drugs. All seemed well until, at the age of 16, she admitted to having been smoking heroin and using other drugs for three years. Then the battle was on to save her, including rehab. All came to a crashing end that night in the service station bathroom.
As her mother’s anguished story makes clear, parents must remain ever vigilant. Read everything you can. A good place to find links to area resources is the website set up by the CV Alliance: cv-alliance.org. Know your kids and their friends well. Do not assume they are doing just fine, since many adolescent users, like the beautiful young Elannah, perform well in school and in other activities. Do what you can to keep your children from self-destruction and don’t be embarrassed to seek immediate help if substance abuse is suspected. You are not alone; many stand ready to help you.