In Nov. 24 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
David Parnell wears the scars of battle from a war waged within himself when he invited methamphetamine into his life.
Recently, Parnell shared his story of addiction, horror, and hope at the Russell County High School Auditorium.
"I wanted to do better with the second half of my life," Parnell said. "I want to tell people the truth about drugs - its poison."
Like many young people, Parnell had big dreams for his future and had a great start at achieving those dreams until he made the choice to use drugs.
He said he had opportunities to go to college on basketball scholarships and dreamed of someday coaching basketball but he started using drugs and didn't care about anything except dope.
During the last seven years of his addiction, Parnell's drug of choice was methamphetamine but he started out drinking and smoking marijuana in high school.
He said out of 300 meth users he has met, two of them started using meth first and all the others began their drug use with marijuana and alcohol.
Methamphetamine is a wickedly addictive, illegal stimulant known by names like Crank, Glass, Ice, Tweak, Yaba and others.
No matter what it's called, Meth is made up of toxic chemicals that inflict permanent injury and many times death.
"I'd rather see someone in jail than out using drugs," said Parnell. "It may prolong their lives and give them a chance to stop."
He said many who use meth are hooked after their first try and once addicted, have an extremely difficult road to recovery.
Meth doesn't just affect the user, it also impacts the user's family and society as a whole.
Across America, this drug is destroying lives, families, and communities.
"Meth is a very powerful drug and you will do things you never dreamed you would do," said Parnell.
Destruction in the path of this drug can be irreversible damage to the body, jailed parents, abused children, and serious environmental damage from toxic chemicals where meth is made.
"Whatever you do, if you think you've found a meth lab, don't touch anything or open any bottles or jars," said Parnell.
He said the chemicals used to make meth are highly volatile and susceptible to explode or give off poisonous gases that kill.
Parnell illustrates these atrocities with crime scene photographs and other photos depicting graphic mutilation and death cause by meth.
"I don't feel that bad about showing you this gross program," said Parnell. "I put these pictures on here to show people how drugs can ruin your life."
He showed pictures from across the country of people who died in meth lab explosions and others who were maimed by chemical burns.
"The same chemicals that burn them on the outside, burn them from the inside," said Parnell. "This is a poison that slowly eats them up. It's a slow agonizing suicide."
Children victimized by the evils of addiction are also among the photographs in his presentation.
"So many times it isn't the adults that pay for their bad choices," Parnell said. "It's often the innocent children that suffer."
"Children are the true victims of any addiction."
He said meth addicted parents neglect, physically abuse, and put their children in grave danger of physical harm or death.
"I try to bring awareness to the child abuse," said Parnell. "Every child deserves to have a good chance in life. It's up to us to fight for those kids."
Parnell pleaded for people to report child abuse and possibly save the life of a youngster.
He admitted to neglecting his own children and abusing his wife and spoke of regrets for his actions.
Between the despair of drug induced paranoia and hallucinations, Parnell became depressed and suicidal.
He tried and failed once to hang himself.
When his wife decided to take their children and leave, Parnell shot himself under the chin with an SKS assault rifle ripping his face apart and permanently disfiguring his appearance.
"Killing yourself is never the answer," said Parnell. "You never know what God has for you around the corner."
He can say that because in his second attempt at suicide, he found hope through his faith in God and believing his life was spared for a purpose.
Parnell said he was hopeless and didn't believe there was any forgiveness for him but through his survival of attempted suicide, he learned of God's forgiveness.
"I knew God had given me another chance," said Parnell. "I asked God to come into my life and change me."
He urged everyone in attendance to believe there is hope for them also.
"No matter what you've done in your life, don't think there's no forgiveness," said Parnell. "God will forgive you."
He spoke frankly about his life and the choices he made that brought him through experiences he would like to have an opportunity to change.
Parnell hopes by sharing his story, he will help people make better decisions.
"It takes a wise person to learn from others' mistakes," Parnell said.
After 30 surgeries and 5 bone grafts, he makes no apologies for his meth ravaged appearance but sees it as a gift that he can use to share his story and possibly change lives.
"I'm not ashamed of the way I look," said Parnell. "If the way I look makes kids decide they don't want to do drugs because they don't want that to happen to them, then my looks are a blessing from God."
Across America, people are counting their blessings in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.
David Parnell is appreciative for everyday he is given to have a second chance at his life.
"I'm just thankful to God that I'm still here to be a husband and to be a father to my children," Parnell said.
For more information about David Parnell or to contact him, visit his website: www.facingthedragon.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 731-514-9292.
To get involved locally in drug abuse prevention, contact Russell County Partners in Prevention at 270-343-6247.