LITTLE ROCK — In 2010, after years of addiction to prescription drugs and having relapsed following a fourth visit to rehab, 24-year-old Cameron Bradbury locked himself in his room at his parents' home and shot himself.
LITTLE ROCK — In 2010, after years of addiction to prescription drugs and having relapsed following a fourth visit to rehab, 24-year-old Cameron Bradbury locked himself in his room at his parents’ home and shot himself.
“The morning he died he sought relief from a lifetime cycle of relapse, rehab, relapse and rehab. He died in pain and despair, but he beat drugs,” Bradbury’s father, Curt Bradbury, said Monday.
Curt Bradbury, chief operating officer of investment banking firm Stephens Inc. of Little Rock, and Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane were honored Monday with the 2012 Marie Interfaith Civic Leadership Award for their efforts to combat prescription drug abuse by teenagers. The awards were presented in a ceremony at the Clinton presidential library.
Bradbury worked with Lane and others on legislation passed in 2011 to monitor prescription drugs. He also counsels parents who have problems with their children and has helped the Little Rock Police Department change its policies regarding sensitivity to parents at a crime scene.
Bradbury choked up briefly after accepting the award. He spoke of his son’s first use of marijuana at age 12, his later addiction to hydrocodone after finding the drug in his mother’s purse, his numerous attempts to get clean and ultimately his suicide, which happened the day after Curt Bradbury told him he had to go back to rehab once again.
“To those of you who have not experienced this kind of tragedy in your family, let me say that I cannot describe to you in words the sense of utter shock that you feel, the anguish, the despair, the guilt,” he said.
Out of that pain came a resolve to be open and honest about the circumstances that led to Cameron’s death in the hope of helping other people, Bradbury said. He said he believed Cameron would approve.
Bradbury cited a 2007 study by the Office of National Drug Policy that ranked Arkansas No. 1 in the nation in teen pain medication abuse. It is “unconscionably easy” for teens here to obtain prescription drugs, he said.
He urged parents not to give in to denial.
“The advice we give to parents is that if you suspect your kid is on drugs, if you have actually formed the thought by observation or behavior that has concerned you, that situation is worse than you think,” Bradbury said.
Lane was behind the creation in 2009 of Operation: Medicine Cabinet, a program in Benton that promoted awareness of the problem of prescription drug addiction among teens and encouraged the public to hand over expired or unwanted prescription drugs to law enforcement.
Since 2010, the state has participated each year in the annual National Drug Take-Back Initiative, which last month collected more than 5 tons of pills in Arkansas.
Lane said one in five teens in the U.S. has abused prescription drugs by the time he or she graduates from high school, and 70 percent of the drugs abused by teens comes from their homes.
He said the efforts he led in Benton were prompted by surveys of Benton teens who said that prescription drug abuse was as common among their peers as alcohol and marijuana abuse.
“I found out that the education law officers were getting was not what we needed, and we began to educate ourselves, which led to educating the community about prescription drugs and the hazard there was,” Lane said.
Solving the problem “starts with education, and it starts today,” he said.
The Marie Interfaith Civic Leadership Award was created in 2004 by Paul and Irving Spitzberg and named in honor of their mother. Marie Spitzberg died last June.