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At a weekly Reader meet-up, at North Park’s Claire de Lune coffeehouse, I was prepared to hear typical neighborhood concerns from residents; too much graffiti, not enough police, errantly positioned stop signs, the usual type of concerns, all genuine and legitimate, but typical.

As I jotted them down, I noticed the lady to my right. Her eyes were cloudy and glassed over. She gripped a framed picture of a teenage girl. She appeared distracted and anxious, though, waited politely as the others spoke.

One Hillcrest resident complained about her car being vandalized and the subsequent inaction from the police. She interjected. “You have to remember that your problems are way down on the totem pole.”

“They might be way down for some people, but they are way up high for me,” the resident responded.

There was silence, and it signified it was time for the next speaker. She handed over the framed picture.

“This is my daughter, Kelsea.”

“How old is she?” I asked, unsure of a good way to respond.

“She was 17. She died in August of 2006.”

Again, there was silence. Kelsea’s mom, Tracy Moe, went on to explain. How one night her daughter complained about a sore throat and stiff back to her friend’s mom, Laura Wion. She gave Kelsea a prescription bottle. There were twenty pills in all, a mixture of penicillin for the sore throat and methadone for her back. There was a handwritten note on the bottle that said take as needed.

The next morning Kelsea was found dead in her bedroom from an apparent overdose.

“Sentencing is this Friday of the woman who gave these pills to my daughter, at the El Cajon court and I want the courtroom to be packed. I want everyone to know, so that it doesn’t happen again. This has ruined my life. I’ve lost everything and I want to make something positive out of this,” she said in between tears and lengthy stares up at the ceiling.

Wion, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and child abuse, will face anywhere from four to six years in prison at Friday’s sentencing.

Moe wants more to be done. She wants a law, Kelsea’s Law, which requires warnings to be on prescription bottles about the dangers of giving prescribed pills to minors. “I don’t want anyone else to have go through this.” Instead, she wants set consequences for those who give minors pills and, more importantly, she wants awareness.

I gave my condolences. Moe left. Again, the table was silent.

“I see why she thought my problems were low down on the totem pole,” said the Hillcrest resident.

I agreed.

Sentencing for Laura Wion is at 1:30pm on Friday, July 25th at the El Cajon Courthouse.



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miteymo39 July 24, 2008 @ 1:25 p.m.

thank you for honoring my daughter.....


dkloo July 24, 2008 @ 1:46 p.m.


I am sorry for you loss and I hope that this story and that Law will push for more stringent prescription writing and also more accountability for the people that are giving them to kids and also the people writing the prescriptions. I can not believe that the person that gave her these pills is only getting 4-6 years. The only reason why that girl passed away was because she was given methadone... They use that for heroin addicts trying to kick the habit. How did that person get them in the first place and why would she have so much " left over". This was unnecessary and I believe that this person should be made an example of. I know many people that have either bought or sold prescription pills. I do not think that people realize how often this kind of OD or abuse happens. I hope that people will wake up and realize the problem and address what needs to be changed. I am really sorry for your loss, I lost 2 people close to me this year, one to cancer and the other to suicide. I hope others can both learn from your loss and hopefully prevent this unnecessary tragedy from ever happening again.



Melis11577 July 24, 2008 @ 6:22 p.m.

I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. Thank you for sharing the story of your daughter, I too lost a loved one to Methadone.

In 2005 Methadone is indicated in over 4600 deaths nationwide and this number is underestimated due to an error in ICD10 coding and non uniform procedures in reporting and determining causes of death. Methadone is killing more people than any other prescription drug, killing 2 people for every 100 exposed.

Methadone is now the #2 Killer Drug in the U.S. Methadone is more addictive then any other pain medication including heroin and because of it’s extremely long half life, cardio toxic risks, numerous fatal drug interactions, dosages based on tolerance, and small margin of error.

Every day 10.9 people die from Methadone (according to 2004 stats, not
including car accident deaths caused by drivers under the influence of Methadone)

We (the families of methadone victims) are requesting new laws surrounding who can prescribe Methadone, clinic rules and regulations as well as stiffer penalties for those caught selling their take home doses. The whole methadone maintenance system needs an overhauling. We cannot continue to allow a legal medication to be killing more people then the illegal drugs. Our government cannot be allowed to use tax dollars to fund their legal drug dealing operations.

We are asking government agencies to enact stricter guidelines in prescribing methadone for any reason. It must be mandatory that all doctors be certified and trained in the pharmacology of methadone; inpatient stays must be required during induction to methadone; all staff be extensively trained in monitoring methadone patients for symptoms of toxicity. Clinic patients should be tested weekly for legal and illegal drugs that are taken with methadone to get “ high” or experience “euphoria” such as benzodiazepines, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana etc… and face severe consequences or mandatory detoxification from the methadone program after 3 dirty urines. Selling of take home doses must result in termination from methadone program permanently throughout the U.S. When presenting inebriated at clinic, clinic should also document such activity as well as prevent client from driving.

Diversion of methadone is a serious problem because it lands this most deadly drug on streets. Statistics also state that methadone is contributing to more deaths nationwide then heroin and only second to cocaine deaths.

The potential of abuse, diversion, and overdose to new patients being prescribed methadone is overwhelming. The unique properties of methadone, it's long half life, and it's negative interaction with numerous drugs make it an optimal choice as a last result treatment for chronic pain and addiction.


Melissa Zuppardi Helping America Reduce Methadone Deaths www.HARMD.org

Please sign the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/472711451


MAMAorg July 25, 2008 @ 1:35 a.m.

Tracy, I am so very sorry for your loss and had heard of this story several weeks ago. This is what is happening to so many innocent lives with this deadly poison. Methadone is currently the #1 killer of a prescription narcotic in this country and these deaths come from clinics, pain management and the diversion from both sources. Stories like this are happening everyday with no relief in sight as the numbers continue to grow. Thousands are dying yearly yet many are taking a blind eye to this epidemic. I too lost a child to this drug after a doctor gave it to him for pain, he was 24 years old. They go to sleep and never wake up which is the devastation this drug leaves behind. This needs to be taken off the market for pain management and minimally dosed in a monitored closed setting for addiction, nothing else is acceptable. This would make stories like this almost impossible to read and the deaths from this drug could be stopped. Many of us have joined together to bring awareness to the public of the dangers that are lurking with Methadone. We do meet resistance as their are the pro-methadone advocates that will say and do anything to keep this drug out there as they feed their cravings with it's use every day, legally. Please it is too late for some of us but not for others. Let everyone you know how lethal Methadone is and lives that are being lost.

Mothers Againt Medical Abuse. Org http://mothersagainstmedicalabuse.org/default.aspx

Help Stop Rx, Methadone Deaths and Abuse http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/RxMethadoneDeaths/


brenoneal July 25, 2008 @ 6:33 a.m.



Kathy July 25, 2008 @ 7:13 a.m.

What a tragic loss, my sincere condolences. In addition to label warnings, parents teach children to never EVER take medication prescribed to other people. Also, random taking of antibiotics has created resistant strains of bacteria. We as a society take medication now as a matter of course. Such a terrible loss saddens me. Perhaps this reminder will be a reminder for the future.


dkloo July 25, 2008 @ 12:27 p.m.


I cannot believe this is such a problem and I had no idea. After reading this article I went online and did some research. I believe that this has to be the worst "unknown" drug there is. I have never heard of anyone dying until yesterday from an OD of Methadone. I am 25 years old and I don't know a single person that even had a clue about the effects and death rate of this horrible drug. i must have called 20 people and this only shows me that there needs to be some kind of petition or add campaign letting kids know about this drug. Also I believe that both Doctors and People that knowingly gave methadone to a minor or someone who it was not prescribed to, should be tried under 2nd degree murder or at least 1st degree manslaughter. I couldn't find much about cases where doctors or anyone for that matter has been convicted of much more than a slap on the wrist. I will continue to "get the word" out, but anything I can do, Let me know [email protected]



darcysmom07 July 25, 2008 @ 2:24 p.m.

Hello I am so very sorry for your loss. My name is Brandy. I am now 23 years old and a widow due to the fact of methadone. My husband died on june 9th 2007. only six days from his 21st birthday. My husband died of an overdose because he took 10 miligrams of methodone and his perscription of Zoloft. Its hard and i think of it all the time. My husband has not only left me and our family behind he left our daughter who was only 2 months and 4days old. The person who gave him the methadone only got 20 days in jail because the judge said he had to go by Oregon state guide lines. So now my mother inlaw and i are working on getting a law called Brandons Law passed. If it passes any person giving out there medications will be given a minimum of 1 year in prison. and if they make the person die they will get a minimum of 3 years in prison. Its still not going to bring my husband or my daughters dad back but maybe it will help save other lives. I am truely sorry for your loss. Brandy [email protected]


GingerGrl86 July 27, 2008 @ 12:47 a.m.

Hi, I am so sorry for your loss. I am now 22 yrs old, but when I was 15 I first found out what Methadone was....my doctor prescribed me Methadone for pain for a chronic nerve disease I have. After the Vikodin and Morphine and Oxycontin and Lydocaine patches had stopped working for my pain, my doctor prescribed me Methadone. Before that, I had no clue what it was...and I was in foster care, so I didn't even have a caring gaurdian fighting for me in my corner to help me realize that I shouldn't have been taking the methadone. I was on Methadone for about 2 months in high school (like I said, precribed by my doc) and was SO completely out of it from the medicine...I don't remember those two months...at all! I do remember one day I was so sick of not being aware of my surroundings from the Methadone that I had refused to take it...I couldn't get a doctors appt for another 3 weeks so I decided I would take myself off the Methadone alone since my doctor seemed not to care either way....Let me tell you, although the Methadone didn't kill me (fortunately), the withdrawls from that almost did!!! I ended up in the ER because for a whole 7-10 days after stopping the medicine I was throwing up--couldn't even keep water down--had begun to experience terrible trembles and shakes throughout my body, couldn't sleep, could barely function and would be in and out of my mind at times.....I was scared to DEATH!!! The hospital had no clue what to do for me except hydrate me and catheterize me and observe.

More recently, I did an internship at a Methadone clinic and the nurses and doctors were ASTONISHED about my story of me being on Methadone at 15....I mean, this clinic I worked at dispensed Methadone from the clinic--didn't even let ppl take them home unless strict requirements were met.

I STRONGLY feel that NO CHILD should be given (prescribed or not) Methadone under ANY circumstances.....When I was taking Methadone in high school, I would sit in class and not even know what was going on around me or even in my own head....teachers later told me that other kids in my class would sit behind me and throw pencils and erasers and stuff at my head--like it was a game--and I didn't even move!!! No child or person should be subjected to this--ever! Methadone should NOT be given to someone for PAIN and especially NOT to children/minors.

This woman who did this to your child should have to face a LOT more time for her crime....people need to know that giving ANY prescription/non-perscription medicine to a minor without proper directions is NOT OKAY! The laws need to be changed and Kelsea's Law is definitely one that I will full-heartedly support!

Thank you for sharing your story with all of us--your daughter will live on and her purpose is here, now! I am praying for you and your family and that this law gets passed! Take care, and I am deeply sorry for your loss!



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