Personal stories of drug addiction, treatment, and recovery come to WJ
May 11, 2018
Ralph Bloom, a recovering alcohol and drug addict, admitted, “I did not imagine I would be standing in front of this class today.” Ralph, who graduated from Hudson High School, along with his wife, Amanda, a WJ alum and also a recovering addict, came to Walsh Jesuit on April 19 to speak to four health and anatomy classes about overcoming addiction.
Health and anatomy teacher Mrs. Candace Larlham, became close friends with Ralph and Amanda through their church and asked them to speak to her classes. She stated that “hearing what they went through because of their addictions made me realize what a powerful message they had to share with our current students.” She thought it would be a great way to influence students and their decision-making during their impressionable adolescent years.
Ralph and Amanda Bloom have experienced the short and long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse. As he was sharing his story, Ralph repeatedly said, “I was just a kid when I started.”
Amanda Bloom also started with drugs at a young age. She shared, “I started at the age of five snorting a line of my dad’s cocaine, and that moment I remember crystal clear.”
By the time Amanda was 15, she had already been using drugs for 10 years. She used any opportunity she could to “bump,” or use a tiny amount of drugs. She would bump between class periods or any other time throughout the day in school.
Feeling ashamed of her addiction, Amanda kept this secret even from her best friends and found herself lonely and depressed. Of this isolating period in her life, Amanda commented, “I have little to no recollection of my senior year.”
When Amanda was 19, her father died, which meant she lost her drug supply. She turned to “joining a gang, stealing, and selling [her] body for drugs.” She stated that her friends could not trust her because she would lie constantly to hide what she was really doing. She went to extremes to ensure her needs were met. Before turning the floor over to Ralph, Amanda left the audience with a final statement: “It takes one time to be an addict, and it will change your life forever.”
Ralph had a completely different experience when he got tangled up with drugs. Ralph was a high school jock at Hudson and did not care about academics. He devoted his heart and mind to sports such as football and baseball. Ralph would get extremely down on himself if the team lost a game. This would lead to his buddies and him drinking after the games. As a result, Ralph felt like he was “a coward and full of fear.”
Ralph declared himself a “daily drinker” by the age of 19. At 25, he turned to using opiates such as heroin, meth, and cocaine. The drugs became a necessity, he declared, due to not feeling “comfortable in my own skin. . . which led to hating how I acted and felt when I was sober.”
After hitting rock bottom, Amanda and Ralph each decided to join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which started in Akron in 1946. They have been clean and sober since March of 2013 and continue to live happy, family-centered lives.
In addition to desiring to create a new life, Ralph and Amanda’s dramatic recovery also comes from their faith in Jesus Christ. Ralph mentioned that “Christ has entered our lives and changed it permanently.” Amanda nodded her head in agreement, adding that Christ also brought them together.
After five years, they both must visit a counselor for the rest of their lives, and they will have to work constantly to move on from their pasts together. Amanda mentioned, “I still have self-doubt because I have to reteach my brain to function.”
Reflecting on the stories of Ralph and Amanda Bloom, senior Connor Coughlin said he realized that “drugs are a severe problem and hearing their story brought it to life.”
Senior Izzy Horning observed, “Having speakers come into classrooms is an effective way to get the message across that drugs and alcohol are not the answer.”
Mackenzie Lewis, also a senior, was asked how she felt afterwards. She stated that “it is great that Walsh has the Wellness Program because it teaches kids to say no against peer pressure.”
Ralph ended his talk with these encouraging words: “Be courageous and never feel like you have to go down a certain path because your peers do.”