Long Beach Mother Hits Airwaves To Fight Drugs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/06/05

Long Beach Mother Hits Airwaves To Fight Drugs

Many television viewers have seen the commercial and heard a mother say "Looking back, I did everything I could. I discussed drugs and alcohol with my son".

The touching testimony came from Angie Johnson, who is still mourning over the loss of her 19-year old son.

Johnson said "On August 22, 2003, my son Derek Johnson died of an overdose".

Johnson shared her heart breaking story in new television ads by the Long Beach Substance Abuse Task Force.

Angie Johnson said "The reason I wanted to get involved was there is a message. There are too many children, there doesn't need to be any children dying".

There was no script -- just thoughts from the heart. It was Johnson's idea to include a picture of Derek in a casket.

Johnson said "The casket is the last view they'll have of their friend, their brother, their cousin. I think really the shock factor is what people need to see".

Another ad includes Derek's younger sister and brothers, as well as long time friend, Laith Ghunmeyeen.

He said "Just anytime bringing back his name, it brings back all the memories that we had together. It was hard. I don't think anybody should go through it. Nobody should. It's the worst feeling ever".

Talking about Derek was not easy.

Johnson said "It feels good and it's sad, all the same emotions".

But those who love him hope their powerful message will show that drugs hurt and can kill.

Johnson said "I'm hoping Derek's death does get the message across to people. The message in the commercials. The message in our hearts. Just please don't do drugs".

The ads began airing in February and will continue through the end of May. The director of the Long Beach Substance Abuse Task Force says the commercials are working, because she's been getting a lot of response from the public.

Carolyn Anderson said "I've had several people call about adults and they're like, we have a 45 year old, I have a 45 year old brother, or I have a cousin, or it's my niece, and they're looking for interventions".

The commercials cost about $8,000. They were funded by a federal grant.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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