Saturday, October 23, 2021

369 Days

Letter to the Editor

They call it Paradise, picture perfect! Beautiful weather, homes, people, sandy white beaches with warm water and balmy breezes. Marco Island paints an idyllic picture of an idyllic life. It’s too bad it’s hiding a little secret that nobody wants to talk about, it’s drug use and underage drinking…

You see, as I write this it’s been 369 days since my world was shattered and my heart was forever broken beyond repair. My beautiful, funny, big hearted son, my only child, died in a Marco Island hotel room from “partying” too much. The so called friends that he was with helped him get high, left him passed out and even texted me back when I asked him if “everything was okay” since my mother’s intuition was kicking in and telling me there was something wrong. He wasn’t okay as the text said, he was already gone. Gone too soon, gone from this world because people didn’t care that he was lying there taking his last breaths. Gone because he made a mistake in judgment, a mistake in drinking and taking the drug and trusting the people he was with.

I don’t understand, where was the hotel management when all this partying was going on? Apparently there were people constantly in and out, noise and underage drinking going on. Did they have to turn their heads away in order to make a profit? Is that what it’s all about?

I am writing this today with the hope of raising awareness to other parents who believe we are removed from this situation here on Marco, we are not. In a world of “Happy Hour,” “5 O’clock Somewhere” and “It’s only Pot” we need a wake up call to realize that it all leads to a problem we are not dealing with here. It amazes me that from what I hear from many who know that you can probably walk into any bar on this Island and know someone who can get or know someone else who can get any illegal substance you want. Why? Why is it so easy? I will keep my opinions to myself on this but maybe you can use this to start asking your own questions.

My son was not the only one to die or almost die from the epidemic of drug use here, but why aren’t those stories in our local papers? We see it in the national headlines, we know it’s out there, yet the stories are not being heard here. As a prominent Island doctor once said to me about our newspapers, “It’s all fluff,” so true. The papers are filled with real estate ads and feel good stories and battles over control within our local government. That’s it, nothing on this subject or if there was I guess I missed it not wanting to read another story. Don’t get me wrong, the Island comes together and is very generous for a good cause and it is a beautiful place to live but there is a big mask over it and it’s hurting a lot of people, young and the not so young.

The schools have the D.A.R.E. programs which are wonderful in all that they teach, but as parents, residents and leaders of the community you need to be aware and realize that there are a lot of drugs on this Island hitting the streets and aimed at our youth.

I am sorry if I’m offending anyone with my story, but please believe me when I say that my intention is to get your attention and to make sure as parents you know what’s going on here and to be aware of what can happen. If one life is saved from my speaking out then it is worth offending anyone who turns a blind eye to the reality of drug addiction in Paradise.

My only hope now is that you never have to walk in my shoes…

Broken Hearted in Paradise…

Cynthia Russo, Nick’s Mom
Marco Island

4 responses to “369 Days”

  1. Linda Deppen says:

    So very sorry for your loss Cynthia.

  2. Debbie says:

    Very sorry for your loss and grateful for your courage to write this. Marco has had this problem for decades. But unfortunately it seems to be all about the “perception” that the chamber chooses to present. A false sense of security and sticking your head in the sand. I relate to your anger

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh drug addiction is very present on this island. It is a epedimic all over the country. Many of our children have died here of drug overdose. Open your eyes Marco Island!!! There needs to be more help on this island about this issue. I’m walking in my shoes as a Mom of an addict.

  4. Linda M says:

    your words are so very true..Instead of turning a blind eye ..Parents néed to wake the he’ll up and open their eyes…I have fought and fought drove around till my tires we bald looking for my daughter…I will never quit…
    We are always trying to stop all this bullshit…I’m so sorry Cindy. You are not alone.

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