Street Beat: Grieving Parents Seek Drug Treatment Law Reform

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(credit: Mark Garofoli)

(credit: Mark Garofoli)

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Mark and Carol Garofoli recently appeared on an emotional episode of Street Beat to talk about their son Mark, his dreams, his addiction and eventual suicide. They are gathering signatures for a bill to reform the laws regarding drug addiction treatment. They believe the change could save lives of people who need help, but are unable to stay in treatment due to their drug addiction.

This was Mark Garofoli’s second time on the show and Carol Garofoli’s first television or radio interview. The episode will be available online after the broadcast. Watch Street Beat on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on CW50.

Mark Garofoli sent the following message to WKBD-TV Public Affairs asking for help.

A year ago May 24th, our 22 year old son Mark got a razor blade from my toolbox in the garage, deeply cut his jugular vein and bled out in the closed dark garage. His mother who had been out, returned home, hit the garage door opener and found him lying in a huge pool of blood with his eyes half open.

Mark had been doing heroin for a undetermined amount of years. That morning, my wife begged him to go to the doctors, but he refused and asked to be taken to the clinic to get some Methadone. One of my sons friends ended up taking him, then dropping him off at our house. We can only speculate that he was tired, and didn’t want to go on.

The reason I am telling you this is, the current law in Michigan does not allow parents of adult children to force them to be evaluated for treatment. If the person is 18 years old or older, parents cannot do anything to help them. Doctors and clinics will not disclose any information either. Even though they know the person needs help, if the person says they are fine and want to leave, there is nothing they can do. We have examples of this.

We have been working hard with the Michigan State legislature on passing a law that would change that. Last week, a bill was formally submitted to the House to address this. It’s bill number 5689.

Substance abuse is taking our youth away from us in record numbers. Passing this bill into law will potentially save many lives for generations, but even if it only saves one life, it would have been worth it for us.

I would love to share this story with as many people as possible. Please feel free to contact me day or night. I will do every and anything I can to make this happen, in memory of my beautiful son Mark.

On Street Beat, Mark Garofoli Sr. explained the bill saying, “It will allow parents, guardians, medical practitioners, or three individual people that know first-hand knowledge that this person has a substance abuse problem — and they can petition it to the court for involuntary assessment and for future treatment.”

Mark and Carol Garofoli encourage members of the public to sign their petition. It can be found on change.org.

Mark Garofoli hid his addiction from his family by constantly asking for money to go out and eat. His addiction was financially draining and his parents eventually found out. They had tried taking him to several rehab facilities but he would always check himself out. They asked if there was anything they could sign to keep him in the program but they were helpless to do anything. He was over 18 and a legal adult and could leave anytime he wanted. He spent some time in jail, but was let out for good behavior. His last try at rehab was within weeks of his death. Mark said he was trying to wean himself down on methadone which his parents would give him money to buy because he was in so much pain.

On the day that Mark Garofoli killed himself his mother was taking him to the clinic to get methadone but then changed her mind and tried to take him to the doctor. He refused and threatened to jump out of the car. His mother pulled to the curb quickly, damaging her car. He left the scene with a friend. He called her later and left a garbled voice mail that told his parents that he was sorry. When she arrived home, she found him in the garage dead.

Mark may have been an addict but he still had dreams. He wanted to move to California to be a professional skateboarder and his friends would say he was the best of them all. He had sponsorships and had won several competitions. His parents haven’t moved his skateboards — they stay where he left them.

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CW50’s Emma Bowen intern Maria Benjamin contributed to this story.

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