Sunday’s front page presented two very different stories about families dealing with drug addiction here in Pennsylvania.
In one, Wilkes-Barre Pastor Vince O’Boyle talked about his journey from addiction to sobriety, and how members of his family, including his namesake son, have fought the same battle — not always successfully. The son’s first wife died of an overdose, as did O’Boyle’s 33-year-old nephew.
The son became homeless for a time when O’Boyle said he could not live with him if he continued to use drugs. He took his son to a rehab center, and the younger O’Boyle has been clean for the past few years.
In the second story, we heard from Harry Hamilton. The former Greater Nanticoke Area, Penn State and NFL star defensive back is accused of punching his son and throwing a second person to the ground when Hamilton went to his son’s State College home to check on the welfare of the teen, who is not in his custody, and the youth’s mother.
Inside, Hamilton says, he smelled marijuana coming from an upstairs room as his son was coming downstairs. He says he tried to lead the youth outside — gently at first, then with a tackling motion.
Hamilton denies striking anyone. Rather, Hamilton says he felt a hard blow to the head, and when he turned to look he was facing a 6-foot-6 individual who had his hands in his pants. In fear that the individual had a weapon, Hamilton admits pushing his son out of the residence.
“I grabbed him instantly — there was no way he was getting out of my grasp — and threw him outside,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton, an attorney, is facing felony counts of burglary and criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor count of simple assault and two summary offenses of harassment in connection with the March 3 incident.
“They should be thanking me for exposing a major drug operation,” he told the Times Leader.
We weren’t in that State College residence. Did Hamilton punch anyone? Did he break a locked door to enter, as police allege and he denies? We don’t know, and all that will be for the courts to determine.
These tales of two fathers, two cases of tough love, underscore how many families are touched by drug use, and how feelings of fear and helplessness can drive family members to take desperate action in order to save loved ones from addiction.
For O’Boyle, his personal battle involved multiple rehabilitation programs and a deepening of his faith. He looks to impart moral support to those who are dealing with substance abuse, including prayer, sharing his story and encouraging them to attend rehab.
There are no easy answers. Rehab is likely the best, although it can take multiple tours of duty, and O’Boyle is living proof.
If rehab and moral support don’t work, one very wrenching option remains: Call the police. We acknowledge that could have far-reaching consequences, but it may be the only way to save a life in some cases.
Punching someone — whether it be your relative or a drug dealer — is generally not the answer, as justified and satisfying as it might feel at the time.
— Wilkes-Barre Times Leader