February 14, 2018

Norwalk mother gives families the ‘Courage to Speak’ about drug abuse and prevention

Parenting during the opioid epidemic: a Norwalk mother is traveling the state, with a plea for prevention.

By Sarah Cody, News 8 Anchor / Reporter

NORWALK, Conn. (WTNH) — Parenting during the opioid epidemic: a Norwalk mother is traveling the state, with a plea for prevention.

“I’m in a club that nobody wants to join – nobody signs up for this,” said Ginger Katz who lost her son Ian to a heroin overdose in 1996.  “I got up for my morning run and I found him at 6am. My cries for help were heard two blocks away.”

For years, he’d struggled to overcome his problem.

“Doctors told us to tell people he died of an aneurysm or a heart attack and I couldn’t bury my son with a lie he was a good kid,” she said with emotion.  “He made an unhealthy decision to take drugs and I was not ashamed of him and I decided to speak out.”

Katz formed The Courage to Speak Foundation to end the silence about drug abuse:  “Sometimes people say it’s like I have PHD in addiction.”

She embarked on her life’s mission telling Ian’s story in 87 Connecticut towns and counting.  She’s conducted 1000 presentations nationwide.

She also wrote a book – Sunny’s Story – sharing the tragedy from the family dog’s perspective.

She developed curriculum for all ages including “Courageous Parenting 101.”

“I wanted this so much because i thought i could’ve used this,” she said.  “The number one form of prevention is a parent talking to a child.”

Katz advises parents to start the conversation with kids when they’re young, be firm, don’t be an enabler and set boundaries.  Also, watch out for risky behaviors.

“It’s really important for parents to go with their gut instincts,” she said, adding – know what your child is exposed to from peers.

She is fueled by her passion to make a difference while honoring Ian each and every day.

“I’ve heard feedback: ‘I called you and I got my son help because of you – now he’s married with a child and a good job,” said Katz with tears in her eyes. “To me, the that’s the legacy, that’s the legacy.”

Katz is presenting “Parenting Through the Opioid Crisis and Beyond” on February 15th at the Rogers Park Middle School Auditorium in Danbury.

She will also be at the Parker Memorial Community Center on Main Street in Hartford on Thursday, February 22.

As well as, the 14th Annual Courage to Speak Empowering Youth to be Drug-Free Family Night is taking place March 13th at Roton Middle School in Norwalk.