Goddard’s parents say drugs stole their son’s joy and life


GODDARD, Kan. (KSNW) – “He was a bright young man, very articulate, who spoke well, who just wandered off,” said Jennifer Douglas.

Jennifer Douglas and her husband Norman Douglas, parents of three, will never forget the September 2016 phone call that changed their family’s lives forever.

“We had gone to bed, got a phone call in the middle of the night asking if we knew Caleb, and I said, ‘He’s my son.’ They said he was brought to St. Francis and we needed to come to the hospital, ”Jennifer explained.

Caleb Douglas, 18, was taken by ambulance to the scene of a shooting and accident involving an officer.

“A surgeon comes in with a few chaplains, a few nurses, so we knew right away that was not good,” Jennifer said. “He said he was brought in with a gunshot wound to the back of his head and his heart stopped in the ambulance and they couldn’t resuscitate him.”

Grief struck the Douglas family. Jennifer and Norman were faced with a new reality.

Timeline of Caleb’s addiction, death

Jennifer and Norman said Caleb’s problems started in college. It was then that he tried marijuana for the first time.

“It started with weed, just your occasional marijuana, and then it degenerated into stamp“Jennifer said.

Dabs, collectively referred to as cannabis concentrates, can contain very high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana, according to drug addiction.gov.

Caleb Douglas (Courtesy of Jennifer Douglas)

“Then he moved on to different things, liquid Xanax and other things to try to get the same or be better,” said Norman Douglas.

Norman and Jennifer said they couldn’t have pain relievers or allergy medications readily available in their homes.

“It got to the point where we had to lock ourselves in, I mean we couldn’t have aspirin, Tylenol, we had nothing on hand. Everything was literally in safes in our house, ”explained Jennifer.

“It kind of swallowed up his personality. It kind of took over his personality, I should say because he was no longer happy and lucky, ”Norman said.

The parents concerned contacted their son’s school. They called counselors and their family doctor for help. They even contacted their insurance company to find out about a hospitalization program for Caleb.

“We found a few places if we hadn’t had health insurance or needed Medicaid that there would have been programs available to it, but because we had health insurance it was not eligible, which is how we started looking out of state, ”Jennifer said.

The couple eventually enrolled Caleb in Boys Town, a private school and group home for children in crisis, in Omaha, Nebraska. Caleb quickly rose to the top of his class.

“He was one of the fastest to win it all because he knew how to get what he wanted no matter what,” Norman explained.

“We always said he was smart. He just didn’t make a wise choice. It lacked that impulse control, ”Jennifer said.

Caleb completed his sophomore year and part of his freshman year of high school in Boys Town before returning to Goddard.

Jennifer and Caleb Douglas (courtesy Jennifer Douglas)

“We brought him home and it was the most glorious six months of all time. We took a family vacation, took our mom with us, spent the holidays together. It was just wonderful, ”Jennifer said.

Then Caleb went back to his old ways. Jennifer said Caleb never came home from a night out with a friend.

“The next morning Norman was looking for them. The two boys could barely walk. They were absolutely crazy about liquid Xanax, ”she said.

Parents had to make the difficult decision to tell their son that he couldn’t live with them anymore if he didn’t follow their rules.

“He literally packed his things in trash bags and left,” Jennifer said.

Caleb spent the next few days surfing on his couch before ending up in the juvenile detention center. He eventually got his own apartment and a job, but the good times didn’t last long. He was kicked out of his apartment and lost his job.

“It pays more to sell drugs, so that’s what it comes down to. Once he started dealing drugs to have money to buy the marijuana and tampons and pills he wanted, you make that kind of money, you won’t want to go back to work for pay minimum or a job for $ 10 an hour somewhere, ”Jennifer said.

Shortly thereafter, Caleb would lose his life. The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said Caleb pointed a gun at an assistant during a traffic stop. This deputy opened fire, but ballistic results revealed that was not what killed him.

“The last bullet was actually from his own gun so it was another shot,” Jennifer said.

Their message to others

Norman and Caleb Douglas (courtesy Jennifer Douglas)

Since Caleb’s passing, Jennifer and Norman have made it their mission to share what happened to their son in the hopes of helping other families or children in a similar situation.

“We had a lot of people who reached out and said they felt very lonely because they don’t match the norm of what you see on TV of children unable to function, they have the look unhealthy, they’re unclean, ”Jennifer explained. “Caleb was a very, very articulate, well-spoken, clean, good-looking, and all American child. It can happen to absolutely anyone. “

Jennifer said she would like to see some kind of change in the health system and its services, especially for young people.

“We took him for consultation. The counselors said, “He’s fine, he doesn’t seem to need to come here anymore.” We said, “We guarantee you he’s still having problems,” Jennifer explained.

Jennifer and Norman want families to know it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to keep asking for help when things aren’t going the way they originally planned or hoped for.

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