Our daughter, Manda Marie Spitler, died at age 20 in our home in March of 2002 from a lethal, self-administered dose of heroin. My wife, Phyllis, was away when this occurred. I was home and had just been talking with Manda minutes before I found her unconscious and submerged in our bathtub filled deep with water.
Since December 2002, I have spoken to every school, drug treatment facility, community service organization, church youth group and prison that has invited me. I have felt compelled to do so for many reasons. But, the most obvious reason was to give some purpose and meaning to Manda's senseless and tragic death. I felt that her story could give some insight, empowerment or inspiration to some of those who heard it. In so doing, it could affect some change in them from a course of self-destruction to a safe, long, rewarding and productive life. The feedback I have received from parents, teachers, school principals and teenagers themselves has verified the power of "Manda's Story."
So, the purpose of "Manda's Story" and of this web site in its purest and most
simplistic form is change. The first change I hope to accomplish by telling her story is from unawareness and ignorance of drug addiction to awareness and understanding of drug addiction. I once had a vague, intellectual appreciation of drug use in our area as Manda grew up, but discounted its danger to her. I viewed it as I had during my college days--a small subculture that had little to no effect on my family. I witnessed none of it, as it was well concealed in our community. Drug experimentation and addiction seemed foreign and distant to me. It took my daughter's death for me to begin to change my perception of what was and is an epidemic of drug use and addiction here in Porter County.
"Manda's Story" jumpstarts this change to awareness by detailing her transition from a happy, well-adjusted child to a girl experimenting with drugs and eventually becoming a young woman enslaved by heroin. This ugly metamorphosis of innocent child to heroin addict has made parents and their children realize that we live in an ocean of drugs that can lure anyone into its depths. Parents are beginning to appreciate that they cannot just suspect their child may be experimenting with drugs; they must assume that their child has, is or will experiment with them. This realization is the first step to an understanding of the Beast of Drug Addiction. If we do not understand what gives this beast its power and endurance, then we cannot hope to wound and weaken it. We must change our view of the world and protect our children with every resource available.
It starts with awareness. The students I speak to learn to face the fact that, yes, I can die from drug use. Manda becomes very real to them and, after hearing her story, are shocked into reality. Read their comments included on this site and you will appreciate the impact that it has had on them. Indeed, one story can initiate such change. It is "Manda's Story".