Some people learn ‘the hard way’ about the life of a meth addict.
David Parnell is one of those people.
Parnell is now a former meth addict who speaks publicly about the dangers of the drug.
Parnell takes his message all across the country. On Thursday, he spoke to students at Bremen High School.
“I had the guilt in my heart of selling dope in my community for 20-years,” said Parnell. “And I realized I had sold a lot of death and destruction.”
Parnell said that many of his drug customers were high school aged. “I felt like I owed it to the kids to tell the truth. Most of us drug addicts will tell them anything to get them to buy the dope from us just so we can use our drugs for free you know.”
Parnell’s presentation is shocking and includes some very graphic photos.
Some show injuries to children caused by home made meth operations. One shows extensive chemical burns to the hands of a manufacturer.
When it comes to the devastating scars that Parnell’s meth use left behind, you can literally see it ‘in his face.’
“I’ve had over 30 surgeries in the last seven years, trying to rebuild my face,” Parnell said. “They built my nose from my forehead and took bone out of my hips and ribs and put in my chin and in my nose.”
On February 21st, 2003, Parnell tried to commit suicide when he shot himself in the head with an SKS assault rifle.
“The bullet hit me here under my chin and come out between my eyes, and I’m going to show the kids some of those photos,” Parnell said.
According to Parnell, the average life expectancy of a heavy meth user is five to seven years, “And that’s usually dying from suicide or some kind of violence, or their organs shutting down,” he said.
Parnell called meth a “deceptive drug,” that makes the user feel better in the beginning. He claims the ‘high’ lasts a lot longer when compared to cocaine. “Seven years later, the depression and the anxiety was just overwhelming, the hopelessness, the guilt, to how I realized it was controlling me.”
Parnell was part of the drug problem for 23-years. He is realistic about the impact that he can now have as part of the solution.
“It’s not about winning the war on drugs, because it almost seems impossible at times, but to me its not about winning that war, its about winning as many individuals in those fights as we possibly can win. If we can save one person from not using or maybe something we can say or show them that's using that will go get treatment, well then, that is a domino effect.”
Parnell says he took his message to inmates at the Elkhart County Jail a few months ago. Next week, Parnell will speak to students at Plymouth High School.
Parnell will also take his message to Bethel College in Mishawaka at 7 p.m. on October 26th. The Bethel presentation is free and open to the public.