Public Forum

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From the editor: This section is dedicated to the Public Forum, where we publish opinions on public and social issues that affect the Malibu community and our readers at large.

Disease of addiction cuts wide swath

Our son, Alex, died last Saturday, April 5. Our unrelenting grief is tempered by our clear knowledge that he enjoyed, even at the time of his death, an abundance of love from family and friends, an appreciation of life’s precious gifts, pride and engagement in his scholarship, and a future packed with plans and possibilities.

At age 18, he was in the middle of his freshman year at Reed College in Portland. His knowledge of history informed his politics and his passion for social justice. Compassion, and a deep empathy and sensitivity for the human condition affected his opinions.

Alex valued integrity. In that spirit, we are not hesitant to disclose the cause of death. When we went to Reed to pick up the precious pieces of our young son’s life, it became clear that if any good could come of this, we needed to be very open about what happened to Alex. We know from extensive personal and familial experience that the disease of addiction cuts a wide swath. As a typical teenager, with typical friends in a typical high school, Alex experimented with alcohol and pot. In one unholy encounter he was introduced to heroin. He didn’t do much of it and he didn’t do it for long. With our active support, Alex was fighting this brief but powerful addiction. He underestimated his foe.

We feel strongly that Alex’s death from an accidental heroin overdose should serve as a wake up call. We truly hope Alex’s death will spark change that will save others and that it will inspire all of us who are complicit in either ignorance or denial or hopelessness to take a stand, to stare addiction in the face and seek help. Be it in Malibu or Reed College or any of the countless communities where drug and alcohol use among young adults is considered a rite of passage, we need to take a stand. It is not normal; it is deadly. In spite of our knowledge of this disease, all the steps we took with him to heal himself, our infinite and unconditional love for this gentle soul, Alex still died of an accidental overdose at the age of 18. Please, on Alex’s behalf, bring the topic to the table. Talk to your sons and daughters; take on your friends and don’t let them get away with it; seek help for those who need it. Addiction cannot be fought alone. The foe, as Alex discovered, is too strong.

As parents, our sense of loss is unimaginable. Devastated by the unexpected, we nonetheless marvel at our son’s character and accomplishments in such a brief life. We are so very proud of him. From the deep abyss of sorrow in which we find ourselves, we are grateful for the love and support from our community of friends here and abroad. We thank you for your unconditional love and understanding. We thank you for cherishing Alejandro’s life.

-Carlos Lluch and Louisa Callery