Saturday, July 23 , 2016, 8:36 pm | Fair with Haze 67º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
 
 
 
 

Rich Detty Bears Burden of Not Knowing Extent of Dead Son’s Drug Use

46-year-old Cliff Detty had been diagnosed with mental illness but father wonders whether drugs also played a fateful role

[Noozhawk’s note: This article is part of Day 3 in Noozhawk’s 12-day, six-week special investigative series, Prescription for Abuse. Related links are below.]

Name: Rich Detty

Location: Santa Maria

Role: Father

Looking back, Rich Detty can’t say for sure whether his son, Cliff, was addicted to prescription medications. He’ll never have the chance to ask; Cliff Detty died in April 2010 while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.

For Detty, the drug abuse question and the true condition of his son’s mental illness still haunt him.

Cliff Detty, 46, of Santa Maria, had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic by county psychiatrists, but that diagnosis was not revealed to his father until shortly before his death.

                                Prescription for Abuse  |  Complete Series Index  |

A decade before, Cliff Detty had undergone two knee surgeries after an injury on the golf course where he worked. After the last operation, he was to stay overnight at the hospital where he was being treated. But that changed when a nurse told Detty and his wife that they would have to take their son home because he was out of control.

“A nurse came out of the waiting room and said ‘We’ve got him on enough drugs to knock out a horse, and he’s still yelling for more. You’ve got to take him home; we can’t handle him,’” Detty recalled.

“He had an incredible tolerance,” Detty said of his son.

A physician sent the Dettys home with a powerful painkiller for their son. Detty doesn’t remember what the drug was, but says it was enough medication for seven days.

“Within two days it was gone,” he said.

After a second refill quickly disappeared, the doctor refused to reauthorize another prescription. When Cliff Detty showed up at the doctor’s office to demand one, “he started yelling ‘Give me that damn prescription,’” Detty said.

Because Cliff Detty only lived sporadically at home and was out on the streets much of the time, it’s difficult to tell how large a role drug abuse played in his life. The younger Detty had been arrested before for marijuana possession, and had spent five months in jail. At the time of his death at the county Pychiatric Health Facility in Santa Barbara, Cliff Detty has a significant amount of methamphetamine in his system.

Detty still has a dozen or so bottles of medication he found in his son’s car. Some of them are still full with prescription medicines like Naproxen that Detty knows his son didn’t take. Others are stronger. Two of the bottles contained hydrocodone pills, and are empty.

Detty said his son never took any of the Vicodin that Detty had in his medicine cabinet. Before her death from cancer, Detty’s wife, Mary, also had painkillers in the house, but those were never taken either.

“I think about that and wonder if we all misjudged him and he was truly just a victim of mental illness, and the drugs had little or nothing to do with his condition,” Detty said. “I guess I will never know for sure.”

                                Prescription for Abuse  |  Complete Series Index  |

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >