Battling addiction is on all of us

October 20, 2017

Cliffvon Howell spoke at the funeral for Tom Frederick this week. Cliffvon grew up with Tom in downtown Lewes. They played ball together as boys, graduated together from Cape - where Tom quarterbacked the football team - and crossed paths later in life at reunions. They were friends.

Most recently, Cliffvon knew Tom as a man battling persistent addiction and mental health issues. He used his knowledge and connections through his work with Delaware Health and Social Services to find treatment and support options for Tom. That's what friends do. That's what state services are there for.

With help from his family and people like Cliffvon, Tom made it through his 20s and 30s. Though it was a struggle and he, like most people in his circumstances, lived in a tormented inner world, he nonetheless held on until he was 40. Then, despite the efforts of family and people like Cliffvon, Tom died in a crash on Route 1. Police investigators say the crash came while Tom was driving impaired. As we read so often in police reports and in obituaries, his addiction proved his undoing.

We mourn the loss of Tom Frederick as we mourn the loss of all who die too young because of diseases that leave us with a sense of futility over our inability to stop them. There have been so many recently. Our community is reeling.

Delaware legislators this year passed laws to overcome barriers to treatment imposed by insurance company decisions. The laws also include measures to stem overprescribing of opioids that can lead to addiction. Families suffering from loss of loved ones to addiction prompted the legislation. One legislator said nearly 100,000 Delawareans are affected by addiction.

It all starts at the personal level. We can be aware of those in our communities who need help and, like Tom's family and friends, render assistance and support. As this and so many other instances painfully illustrate, such efforts don't always succeed. But doing nothing helps neither ourselves nor those suffering from addiction.


  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Laura Ritter, news editor, and Dennis Forney, publisher, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.