Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.

 

Marc Alberts: Our little brother

5/11/1989 ❤ 6/2/2015

A boy from my old neighborhood died this week. He was no longer a ‘boy’, he was 26, but to me he was still one of the kids. They ran around in the summer as a pack. You could tell where they were by looking for their pile of bikes. Scenes from those days of innocence keep flashing through my head – when they went from one house to another, rode their bikes to the playground or to the store- images of boyhood youth. Now he’s gone. Heroin stole him. My heart is breaking for his mother and siblings. They have already been through so much, having lost their husband and father to cancer four years ago. I’m sure Addiction has also stolen years of this family’s life. I know how Addiction takes over a home, because Addiction has been an unwelcome member of our family for the last ten years.

Addiction is stealthy. It hides in basements and bathrooms and bedrooms. It steals children and decimates families under a cloak of silence. The addicts themselves are embarrassed and guilty and are afraid to ask for help. Parents feel inadequate, trying to figure out where they went wrong, what could they have done better. I was a stay at home Mom for God’s sake, and my firstborn is a heroin addict. What does that say about me? Guilt, silence, embarrassment – these are Addiction’s wingmen, giving it the wind needed to kill our kids, gaining strength in whispers at book clubs and coffee shops, ‘he’s an addict you know’.

Continue reading “Heroin. Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.”

America, Take a Knee … with Liberty and Justice for All. 


America, take a knee for those who are being treated as less-than in the eyes of our present system, including:

  • People of color
  • Those experiencing homelessness
  • People who are denied healthcare
  • Those battling substance use disorder
  • People in need of mental health services
  • Citizens in Puerto Rico
  • Residents of Flint
  • The LGBTQ Community

America, we are being driven to our knees by the special interests and lobbies of those who will make millions:

  • Keeping our prisons full
  • Keeping our insurance rates sky-high while denying basic coverage
  • Keeping addictive American-manufactured poison flowing to our streets
  • Keeping us at war
  • Keeping us divided

America, we should bow our heads and ask ourselves:

  • Why groups of white men can march through the streets of Charlottesville armed to the teeth and spewing hate, but a single man of color who tells a police officer he is legally armed is shot dead in front of his family during a traffic stop.
  • Why anyone has a right to judge who we love or who we marry.
  • Why this land where people came so they could be free to practice their religion has become so intolerant.
  • Why so many in this country once referred to as a great melting pot no longer embrace that ideal.
  • Why the Bible is being used to take away rights from citizens.

America, take a knee and remember:

  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King Jr
  • When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Maya Angelou 
  • History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. Also Maya Angelou
  • No more hurting people. PEACE.  Martin Richard
  • Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another. Nelson Mandela
  • Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. Malala Yousafzai
  • Study the past if you would define the future. Confucious
  • It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt
  • Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. JFK
  •  We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Independence

America, take a knee, bow your head, and think about what has happened to us. If we are still the ideals we have for so long represented, if we still believe in the dream instilled in our hearts that so many have died defending, then we must:

  • Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight. Bob Marley

Very Important 60 Minutes Segment!


We have all heard parts of this story. We have read of pharmacies in small towns in  Kentucky, W Virginia and other states ordering millions of opioids. 60 Minutes puts the pieces together….. (link below)

Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress 85 BILL WHITAKER CBS NEWS

To inhale.

The author of this post recently lost her brother to the epidemic. Her description of Addiction  is a must-read. Anyone who ever wondered ‘why can’t they just stop?’ please read this article. 
Titled ‘to inhale’, the writing is so powerful I held my breath as I read. An incredible piece with an important message.  

To live under the inexplicably heavy cloak of addiction is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. While I’ve never experienced it first hand and won’t pretend that I ever have, I’ve fought along side of someone who has for many years. It is obvious that it is a battle, day in and day out. Every morning, every moment, is a fight as to whether or not you will supply your body with the very thing it has become dependent on to survive.

For you, heroin was air.

We don’t think twice about breathing. Our brains have deemed it necessary because it satisfies a need. Immediately following our entrance into this world our tiny bodies searched for an element we didn’t yet know existed. We stumbled upon our first breath of oxygen in an attempt to let out a scream, and noticed an instant, overwhelming attraction to this feeling of…

View original post 441 more words

To those who love someone struggling with addiction, please don’t abandon them.

Inkedgive love_LI

I am a 26-year-old female. I graduated from one of Boston’s best universities, received my Master’s Degree one year early, grew up with a wonderful family, had great friends and a boyfriend I loved. Is this your idea of someone who would become addicted to heroin? Do I fit with your description of heroin addict?

Before the age of 24 drugs were not on my radar. It would never have occurred to me – or anyone who knew me – that I would one day become a heroin addict. The past few years have taught me that heroin does not discriminate. I did a lot of things while using heroin that I would not dream of doing today. I destroyed relationships with family members and friends. I lost jobs and stole from people I loved. For a long time, I didn’t care about anything except how to find and buy heroin. Those actions were done by someone who was sick and addicted to something more powerful than you could imagine. Stigma implies I should feel shame…. but I do not. I am grateful and proud I made it out alive.

I am sober right now and in recovery. For the first time in three years I feel like myself again.

At the beginning of my recovery, my counselor suggested I make a list every day of simple things I would like to accomplish.

At first my list was incredibly short:

  1. Wake up and get out of bed.
  2. Brush teeth and wash face.
  3. Shower (maybe).
  4. Eat

I struggled to do the things most people do automatically.  I had to teach myself how to be a functional adult all over again. As my mind had become consumed by opiates I had forgotten how to simply live.

Before touching an opiate, I never thought about what made me happy. I went to class, I hung out with my friends, I went out — I didn’t have to search for ‘happy’. Now, as I am in recovery, I find myself thinking a lot about happiness. I see people walking down the street and I ask myself, “How are they just happy?”. I am not sad or depressed– but for the first time in my life, I must think hard about the meaning of joy and what I want out of this life. I fight the urge to use on a daily basis. I constantly remind myself that if I stay sober, eventually I’ll feel like ‘me’ again and be like those people I watch living life “normally” and feeling happiness naturally.

Had I known how powerful opiates were, I would have never tried that first Percocet. Had I known that small little pill would lead me to sniffing heroin so that I could function normally without being sick, my life would be completely different today.  I had no idea the power and control opiates would wield over my life. The life that I once loved became a living hell. Every part of my existence was completely controlled by the heroin. Even when I had it, I would obsess over how I’d get more. My life revolved around this insidious drug and trying to find ways to get it so I could go to work and not be sick – wondering how to stop without my parents knowing I didn’t ‘have the flu’ when I was withdrawing.

No matter how badly I wanted to stop, my mind was a prisoner to this drug. It was an obsession I could not control. Even when I fought the mental obsession, the physical effects were so awful I would give in and use to end the withdrawals– the runny nose, the sweating, the chills, the restless legs, the inability to sleep for weeks, the headaches, the lack of energy, hope and motivation. No matter how badly I wanted to end the addiction, the mental and physical obsession won every time.

I recently read an article, I stood by my brother while he battled heroin, that stood out from other articles flooding the internet about heroin and addiction. The author of the article had a brother who she knew was addicted to heroin, and yet she never gave up on him.  As an addict, I can say first-hand, people typically want nothing to do with you. You have no support. You have no one left to call who make you feel like someone still cares about you. Reading her article made me jealous of the support she gave her brother. I am in recovery and I still hear my mom talk to others about the shame and the embarrassment my addiction caused her. If I had someone in my life during my addiction who didn’t abandon and judge me, but who actually supported me, perhaps my recovery would have been easier ….  it very likely would have happened sooner…

I went through hell while battling addiction and I will never look down on those who are still struggling. A few weeks ago, I visited a friend in the ICU who had overdosed. I went straight home from the hospital and hugged my parents. I told them how sorry I was to have made them worry and wait for the phone call they feared – their daughter in the ICU or dead.  A few days ago I found out my friend had recovered and was released from the hospital…. and he was asking everyone he knew if they could help him get heroin. If being that close to death doesn’t make a person stop, I hope it makes people understand the power this drug has over those struggling with addiction.

Addicts need love and emotional support from their family and friends – this can be done with boundaries intact. Hope, motivation and encouragement can be offered without enabling. ‘I won’t help you kill yourself but I will help you save yourself’ is a sentence filled with love and support. Your loved one may not want to hear it when they are angry you are not giving them what they are asking for, but they will remember you said it. Please keep the door open, you never know when they will walk through it. Abandoning addicts doesn’t help like people assume it will. The awful feeling of being all alone and abandoned made me use even more…

Opiates have a power over people that is difficult to explain if you haven’t lived it. The drug controls every aspect of daily life. I was no longer ‘me’. My only focus was The Drug. We need to erase the stigma surrounding addiction. If more people supported those battling addiction, I have no doubt there would be more people in recovery. Those fighting for their lives need to feel support, love and the hope that they can escape their living hell.

I wish people would look at addiction with a different perspective. Most addicts, myself included, don’t want to be under the control of opiates. They are not choosing the life they are living-  a life with no ability to feel any happiness and the only time they don’t feel like they are living an everyday hell is that short amount of time they are completely numb from opiates.

During my addiction, my family felt that distancing themselves from me would help me. Some of my cousins who I used to see daily won’t let me back into their lives.  Even though I am finally feeling good, I overhear my mother on the phone talking about how much shame and embarrassment I have caused her. I struggle with this still. I thank God that I am strong enough to not let this be an excuse for me to use. Would you abandon a sick relative and tell them that you would speak to them again only when they felt completely better? Addicts need to feel like there is hope. We need to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We need people to understand that we need them more than we want to admit and probably more than we even comprehend. Feeling abandoned and alone is very hard. Using, as an addict, and numbing that feeling of abandonment and loneliness sometimes feels like it is the only solution. If we can help take away that sense of loneliness, that urge to use may not be as strong.

To those who love someone struggling with addiction, please don’t abandon them. Tell them you still love them. Emotional support and love is not enabling. You may feel disappointment or shame, you may feel like they are choosing to use and because of their choice you shouldn’t help them. As much as you may want to distance yourself from someone you know is using, please don’t give up on them. Even one person’s support, love and kindness can be what someone needs to find their way out of the hell that is addiction. May your love light their way home.

 

 

np-1

 

Nicole Price has been in recovery for a year. She graduated from Boston University with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. She lives and works in Boston and is starting to love life again.

 

 

 

Adventures in Recovery: Equine Therapy

photo (2)

I snapped my helmet and put one foot in the stirrup.

I froze for a moment wondering how my legs were going to pull this one off.

After a quick breath, I gripped the saddle and threw my other leg around the horse.

I propped and shifted until I was semi-comfortable.

I had done it.

For the first time ever, I was on the back of a horse and about to ride.

But how did I get here?

[not literally, but figuratively]

How did I get here?

The adventures in recovery far outweigh the adventures in active addiction for me.

Though both tell a tale of wild rides, I find that the adventures in recovery have various ends…or as I like to think, various beginnings as one comes to an end.

New interests; self discovery.

Wholeness when you already felt just that.

A feeling quite hard to describe; but wonderful to experience.

Learning to love so many things; it’s just that easy.

I never knew how easy.

My active addiction adventures were far different.

Guilt, fear, terror, shame, loneliness, darkness, pain.

There was nothing unique about each time.

Different details, yes, but the ending was the same and all consuming.

Now I find myself at Equine Therapy.

Something I knew nothing about.

In fact, if I had been introduced prior, I would have told you that you were nuts.

There was nothing therapeutic about a smelly horse who could take me out with a swift kick.

[addicts + swift kicks? Maybe we’re on to something!]

Yet I find myself in a barn with other addicts.

Some of us are new to recovery; some not.

Some are listening to learn while others now train.

That’s how recovery typically goes.

I hear the stories of each horse.

Once broken, abandoned, abused, used, neglected; angry, irritable, hurt, withdrawn; loners.

My people in animal form.

I find myself nervous as I go into the process.

Large animals scare me; intimidated by the unknown, I guess.

But isn’t there beauty in the pushing of oneself? Leaving that comfort zone and experiencing the new?

Well, shit then, here I go….

As I follow the lead of the trainer, I can’t help but notice how calm and patient the horse is with me.

It is suggested that I get comfortable with Sailor; to put my hands on him and to balance, relax and take it all in.

He’s so attentive; his ears perk as I talk.

I look at his eyes and I start to think of how similar our journeys have been.

From darkness to light.

Tragedy to triumph.

I then connect.

When broken, we experience life in one way, but when rescued, live vastly different; determined to help the next one suffering.

Sailor is patient and aware of where I’m at each moment; pushing me a little bit at a time.

He pulls back just a little, as if to comfort, when the unknown gets the best of me.

He’s a strong leader who loves to heal.

At this point I see clearly how this experience mirrors recovery from drugs and alcohol for me.

One in recovery guiding another desiring just that.

Using their past to heal others by just being attentive, patient and willing to navigate.

Relating to the pain, even when the details aren’t the same.

Pushing to heal; comforting just enough when uneasy.

I’m confident that this recovery business isn’t just human to human.

Recovery is soul to soul.

It’s spiritual, deep and unbelievably healing.

And even with a smelly horse, it’s therapeutic as f**k!

About Jenn Stottlemire:

Hi from Columbus, Ohio! I’m Jenn and, along with my son Jackson and my husband David, we are quite the trio!

I am passionate about passing on my experience; to give hope to the ones suffering and rally behind the broken.

Heroin took me on a wild ride straight to hell, but it wasn’t my only demon.

Through recovery, I have found the tools to tackle my hurts; build character and integrity.
Through God, I have found peace, forgiveness, serenity and strength; a foundation of faith unshakable at times.
And through both, I’m able to love the life I live.

I stood by my brother while he battled heroin, please don’t judge me as I wrestle grief, anxiety and PTSD.

lane life jackets

It has been a year since I woke up to my mother screaming Jeff was dead. A year since he did not show up to my birthday and I had a minute long blank voicemail at midnight. A year since a horrible fight that is forever ingrained in my mind as I saw him crying leaving the house. A year since my last laugh with him. He knew I was upset over something and came home to me planking on the ground and he blasted DMX at the computer and waited for me to look up at him so he could do that high pitched bird laugh and yell, “we fighting?!” The thing about Jeff was he just knew he could change your mood through laughter. I miss only being allowed to cry for 5 minutes. It has been a year and I never thought I would make it to this day.  You might have been through worse. You might think my problems are stupid or I am weak, but this is my story so please respect it.

I went through HELL with that boy. I wasn’t just there for the good times—I never turned my back or took shelter during the storm. Years of worrying. Phone calls at school or work. Hoping I wouldn’t get THAT call. Seeing someone so smart that he never even had to try, get wrapped up in all this. Someone with so much talent and passion. Seeing my life affected always trying to protect him or stand up for him. Sleeping in my own car, showering at work. It is no secret I lost a lot of my own life in these years. So after all those years when he finally got sober, it meant the world to us. We were so close because he knew I gave up so much for him and he was grateful for the people who didn’t give up on him. Even in shelters, he would always find his way to a phone so he could check in with me and make sure I was ok. ME?? The most selfless human being I ever knew. He was an amazing human. He knew I’d never enable him but he knew I’d always be there. He knew I would ride around to find him when he didn’t have a phone to give him a bag of food and new socks. He knew I’d pick him up somewhere at 2 am just because he needed someone to talk to. He went through HELL and saw and did things others could NEVER imagine. The same people who wanted to sit back and judge him and he still would give them the shirt off his back. When he did get sober we talked so much about all of this. It was painful for me because a side of me was resentful for what this did to our family, but I was never more proud of someone. His battle ahead to change his life was overwhelming, even for me to think about. The bills that racked up over the 9 years. The medical bills were so outrageous and when he did slip up and want help, it would just add to it. Seeing how much of his life he lost and how far everyone else moved on. Hanging with friends and drinking was once normal, but now it’s a gateway to other things. Things that are easily accessible. It’s like people who smoke when they drink and we are habitual creatures. His teeth needing work after the years of drugs and one surgery can set him back again. But keep judging. As he wrote, “each time I slip, the less you pity.” I saw the people slowly walking away again. I felt my burden getting bigger again.

Let me tell you this. That last time he was in rehab, the people who took the time to bring him cigarettes or write letter should know it meant the world to him just to know he was being thought of – that someone still cared. But I could see the depression worsen that this was all happening again to him. I would walk through his room to the laundry room and see him in the darkness alone in bed. He knew I was angry with him and didn’t want to go through this again. But he knew how much I still stood up for him and the person he was despite my anger and would get out of that bed and come up and sit with me and watch lifetime movies and eat cereal with me for dinner, knowing I wouldn’t turn him away. That I was still here. He barely left home. Our last breakfast out together we sat in the car for 3 hours waiting to get into The Farmers Daughter. We picked out all the concerts we wanted to go to that summer and he talked about how nice it was to be out and treated normal because he felt like he couldn’t without being judged with every move and it was better to stay in alone, away from the negativity and be sober than go out where things would set him back. I didn’t know at the time how much I would understand that a year later. I couldn’t stop the hurtful things people would say to him.

After this, when he did overdose the second time he spent 9 days in a mental hospital without anyone knowing, not even me. I ran right there when I found out and knew, I KNEW this would tear him apart. The first thing he said was who knows I am here. He was crying saying how depressed he was and everyone thought badly of him. Said how the judgments and accusations make him want to use. He kept asking me how much an ambulance costs. How much do I think this stay at the mental hospital would cost. I will just never forget saying lets come up with a plan and we can get through this. To try and not listen to what people say or call him. Saying I wouldn’t go home if he wasn’t going home. I kept saying the third time will be it and this is what happens to people who were sober for a while and what will happen to everyone. I went down the list one by one and predicted what would happen to everyone once he died, to try and scare him. I was selfish and kept saying what will happen to me and he PROMISED me it wasn’t going to happen. I cried the entire way home. We all know what happened after.

Well now I know what will happen to me after he dies. And it is even worse than I thought because he is not here to make it better for once. I now know partly how he felt in the end. How it is impossible to not let the judgments and things said eat away at you when it is coming from every aspect of your life. I am just one person’s life that was affected after his death, so you can only imagine the others. But I can only speak for myself with this.

For anyone else struggling with depression, this is for you. You are not alone. It has been HELL. Living with the memory of that last night and how upset Jeff was has been HELL. Trying to plan his funeral and party in that much pain was HELL. Seeing him DEAD? HELL. I touched him which was cool and creepy and just what he would want me to be doing, but it was still HELL. But when it was all said and done and everyone goes back to their normal lives, I had to go live in HELL. That’s when the real fun starts. I was left by someone at my worst a week after he died. I was not getting texts from Jeff anymore. I was not getting told to bring back wine or he would lock my ass out. I wasn’t getting told to hurry up and get home so we can cook on the grill or go out to watch a game. No one was coming in recording me doing the Insanity workouts and laughing at how dumb I looked. Or getting pissed when they are sleeping on the couch and I turn the treadmill on right behind them. I am not yelling at anyone to get the hell out of the bathroom and stop using my shampoo to shave themselves. I am not helping anyone pick out outfits or ordering stupid stuff together offline. No one to meet in the kitchen every 10 minutes for another bowl of Reeses puffs after mom just bought the box. The food store? FORGET IT. I have anxiety going to it because the joy has been taken out of it. It sounds stupid to others but we always had each other when no one else was around and simple everyday things like eating meals with someone or watching movies was now something I did alone. Music was no longer playing. The everyday songs I wish he would stop playing were no longer playing. I can’t text him and tell him to shut up with the Johnny Cash depressing shit and then hear him blast that song “Torn” by Natalie something and ask me if that’s better. The joy was taken out of most things this year. Holidays with that empty chair. No longer shopping together. No longer riding to events together. Not picking out mom’s Easter flowers together. The happy memories of past holidays aren’t enough to take away the pain of the new ones.

But I still somehow got up. I tried my best. I tried to keep going even though some days were worse than others. But the judgments? Over the past year I’ve realized people have a lot to say. People who miss the past 20 days you were happy, but see a breakdown and feel the need to judge just that. People who do not have to come home to his room. See his toothbrush standing. His guitar waiting to be played and his hats lined up waiting to be put on. Who is going to go through everything? Where does it go? Do you throw it out? Who is worthy of getting things? What things do you want to let go of? Who is going to the RMV to claim him dead? Who is paying the bills now? Who is left with all that debt? Who is going to get rid of his car and see it towed off the driveway? All of the firsts were HELL. Every day is a constant reminder that he is not here anymore. People are not there for that but still feel the need to judge. Tell you what you should be doing. How you should be feeling. What ever happened to just listening? It is a lot, but imagine being that person. You tell them not to let it affect you, but when it’s coming from all angles it eats away at you. Off the top of my head these are just a FEW common things said:

-Get over it (my favorite)
-Move on
-It’s been months
-You looked so good what happened
-Jesus you look awful go see someone
-You shouldn’t be having a breakdown anymore
-I wish you were who you used to be
-You aren’t sleeping? Just sleep and stop thinking about it
-You are sleeping too much
-You aren’t eating enough
-You are eating too much
-You shouldn’t be drinking. Should she be drinking??
-You should be drinking
-You aren’t drinking because you don’t want to have fun
-You aren’t dancing? You feel guilty having fun. What if I just don’t want to!??!
-You are working out too much. You are working out too little. -You don’t run anymore? Must be because of Jeff
-Did you do drugs with Jeff too? She must have
-You should be out with people
-You should be home
-Go see someone again
-You are handling this bad
-Be positive- NO SHIT
-Be grateful of what you do have.
-You should be at work
-You shouldn’t be at work
-If I am upset, it HAS to be about Jeff.
-I’m sick of hearing it
-She posts on his wall too much. If it makes me happy, why do you care????
-People preaching afterlife on me
-Drunk people’s sober thoughts
-I wish you would see the other side in this! Just let me vent and I will one day.
-I don’t want to tell you about my problems because I feel bad
they don’t seem as bad
-I wish you were dead instead of Jeff
-You are a poor substitute for your brother
-She is history repeating itself
-Live your own life
-Stop doing stuff for Jeff. Time to move on now. WHAT!? This is my life. If me fighting for others in his name is a problem, unfollow me. DON’T go to anything. Some talk about helping and I’m doing it. Sue me. Who else is planning anything? But everyone wants to say things about it.

I have found myself in my room alone most days because of the fear of getting more hurt by people after the year I have had. The combination of things said and done on top of Jeff dying has torn me apart to a level which I did not want to live and had moments I have tried to end it. I have had a therapist mortified by some of the hurtful things. Maybe the people around me should see someone also. I’ve had people continue to use similar drugs around me and be mad at my reaction. I did not have a CHOICE in how this all affected my body. My heart was broken by various things so much this past year that it took a toll on my body. The amount of hair I have lost. Going WEEKS without sleep at times over the year to the point where I would hear things or even fear driving home from work. Months of no sleep affected my body to the point where there were many times I had to receive fluids to get strength. My skin hurt to touch and the amount of times I have thrown up, I’m surprised I can still speak. My eyes are constantly swollen from crying and I swear I’ve aged so much in a year. I denied medications for obvious reasons. That opens up another can of worms. Let me be sad and feel feelings. I will know when I am getting happy again. When I finally did go out, the things I wrote above would be said bringing me back down, no matter how good I felt that day. Someone would comment on how bad I am doing when it’s the first day I didn’t think about ending my life. THAT is what would tear me apart.

Again, call me weak but until you have been there, maybe people should think about the power of listening. Even though you don’t understand. Even though you think you would handle it differently if it was you. Even if you are exhausted by it. To the FEW that have listened and have been there for me this year, you will forever be in my life. You listened to what does help me or may help others and built me back up. You supported me at my worst. You didn’t choose fun or happier people over me, you chose to get me through this so I could be that person again. I know the pain is not and will never be over, but I have made it through this year of firsts. I have gotten up and done my best. Despite all of that pain I still tried to actively fight for others in the name of my brother because I have a fire inside telling me to do so. I hope my story helps anyone who feels alone in their depression. To everyone–Be kind. Listen. You may be the one person who helps someone through. RIP Jeff. You will always be the most amazing person I have ever known and I hope to always make you proud and will keep going for you. You always said I did too much for people and to not change that about myself and maybe it is what will help someone else in this life. I hope you are drinking a beer and laughing at how long this is. I’m having one now for you too ♥ Love you always

 

Tara fundraiser (2)Tara Lane recently put together a team in Jeff’s name and spoke at Teen Challenge’s Run to End Addiction 5K which was held on May 6. Jeff’s team came in first with 86 members raising almost $6,000. The race money helped in funding an additional 46 (!!) beds recently opened at the Teen Challenge Men’s Treatment Center in Brockton, MA and will go towards helping fund an additional treatment center being built in Brockton. Tara was invited to attend the Additional Beds Ceremony at Teen Challenge and was asked to be on their fundraiser/event committee to help with an upcoming event. It was a bittersweet goal for Tara to be such a large part of adding treatment beds as she remembers so clearly how difficult it was to find an open bed when Jeff   was in need of one.

Tara is living the words of her brother Jeff, ‘Don’t talk about it, be about it‘.



HELPless

JPL color dock version

Life’s on the line, each time’s a risk,
Yesterday we lost Lance Fiske.
I’ll say my peace and shed a light
To a disease which many fight.
I won’t expect you to connect,
Please just listen, & show respect.

Summers ago we played baseball,
Seen him in the halls each fall.
Sacred Heart, East Junior High
Amiable, our last goodbye.
Although his life came to an end,
I’m glad to say he was my friend.
Unless you have been to this dance
You’ve got no idea what took our Lance.
A life of suffering, a life of pain
He’s in the sun, out of the rain.
R.I.P. Lance Fiske (9/23/86 – 8/23/09)

How long can I carry this burden?
Life’s full of triggers, relapse is certain.
The music, the T.V., the friends & the town,
The guilt & depression start bringing me down.
Each time I slip, the less you pity,
I find my answers downtown in the city.

I need your love now, much more than you know
But I have no strength, to tell you ALL so.
All it will take, to end this long war,
Is one lost fight, & you’ll see me no more.
I wish this pain, would go away
I hope that things, will end ok.

(But)
Truth be told, my body’s cold
This disease of mine is getting old.
(and)
I’m Helpless, without friends & fam
Struggling, to hold on to, who I am.

I don’t know why, I don’t know how
I’m supposed to deal, with all this now.
So time will tell my story now
I’ve lost the strength to help myself.
I’m Helpless.
I’m Helpless.
I beg to have, a normal life
Friends & fam, one day a wife.
Yet I am plagued, by sins & lies
It’s my own friends who now despise
The man I am, what I’ve become
No faith in me, to overcome.
A broken bond, a choice all theirs,
Friends who had, justified fears,
I understand, No right to judge
It’s me who sinks inside the sludge.

Your backs are turned, you’re eyes are closed
It’s all my fault, this life I chose.
The blame is cast, I’ve been shut out
for my mistakes, my different route.
No sins forgave, no lies ignored
They split from me, on their accord.

I never chose to cross my friends,
but they’re still gone, & now I fend,
All by myself, try not to cry
I carry on, but rather die.

Inside I shout, inside I scream,
You do not know the hell I’ve seen
No one to share my sorrows with,
No one to split this Henny fifth.

I don’t know how I’ve come this far
Restless nights, under the stars.
I’ve slept some nights out on the street,
I’ve sometimes slept up on my feet.
The things I’ve seen, the things I’ve done
Not much to boast, life on the run,
When sunlight shines, I want to stay
under my sheets and fade away.
I want to quit, I really do.
But everyday I have the flu.
Each day alive, worse than before
All muscles ache, whole body’s sore.
I get on up & get the cure.
I guess tomorrow, I’ll stop for sure.

My life comes first, before my feelings
Self-medication for instant healing
This is my life, but hope I’m wrong
A bad nightmare which last too long
I hope I wake, make an escape
I do not know if I can take
Another day full of this shit.
I’m really sick, & sick of it.
An imploding body, my head might explode
If the cycle don’t end, then death I forebode.
I wish this pain, would go away
I hope that things, will end ok.

(But)
Truth be told, my body’s cold
This disease of mine is getting old.
(and)
I’m Helpless, without friends & fam
Struggling, to hold on to, who I am.

I don’t know why, I don’t know how
I’m supposed to deal, with all this now.
So time will tell my story now
I’ve lost the strength to help myself.
I’m Helpless.
I’m Helpless.
8/24/09

——————————————————————————–

– Written by Jeffrey P. Lane (2/20/85 – 4/29/16)
– For Lance Fiske (9/23/86 – 8/23/09)

——————————————————————————–

About Jeff Lane (written by his sister Tara Lane)

To say Jeff loved music is an understatement. His passion for the art was insatiable. He was such a naturally smart, unique soul and this shined through anything he did. Jeff understood the power of using music to bring joy to others lives or as a way to speak to them in a way like no other. I have always been blown away by his vast knowledge of every genre and his ability to know exactly what someone wanted to hear or what song they were talking about.  Using that power, he learned to DJ at a young age and it was no surprise he then later taught himself how to read music and to play the guitar. He was always writing in his books, whether it was song lyrics or actual melodies.  He could never learn enough about music, whether it was how to write it, how to create it, the meanings behind songs or even just about the artists or bands themselves. So much of our time spent together consisted of him having me listen to something or watch something on an artist or band he loved. Prince and Slash are the reason he wanted to pick up a guitar in the first place and I cannot tell you enough how many times I saw the movie Purple Rain or was made to watch a video of Slash. Jeff was so passionate about things that it was infectious. It was impossible to not gain the same love for music. I’ll never forget the day we drove somewhere together and I went from current hits, to 50’s oldies, to EDM, to Rap and probably threw in some rock and he looked at me when we parked and said, “I’ve taught you well my young disciple.”  We laughed so hard. He made you want to listen to anything he was interested in. He was known for putting a song on and staring at you until you realized what he did-whether it was an inside joke or he wanted you out of the mood you were in-or just making fun of the mood you were in. He could turn moods like I’ve never seen! I will never forget that stare 😊

After an off and on battle of almost 10 years, Jeff lost his life to his addiction in 2016. Coming across pieces like this that Jeff wrote is such an amazing gift. He had such a way with words to have something so real and painful turn into something so beautiful. That is true talent. Writing this back in 2009 when he was at his worst, overdose rates were not nearly as high as they are today.  The stigma on addicts was so tough that there was not as much interest in reading something like this or in helping make changes. Now in 2017, addiction touches almost every household in America in some way.  Now people WANT to read something as real as this that sheds light on a disease that is killing so many.  Now people WANT help in understanding this epidemic. There is barely any room in programs for people who do want help, and if there is, many are turned away because they cannot afford it. For those who do get help, it is a life long battle to stay sober and this is where many struggle. There are many who do understand the depth of this daemon now, but there is a long way to go until real changes are made in the way we treat addiction. 

If there is one thing that Jeff always knew, it was that music speaks to people. I know he would be so happy if even one person was affected by something he wrote. Whether it was to better understand or to help someone not feel so alone. People do not realize how much it might mean to someone to read something so true to what they are dealing with, showing them they are not in this by themselves. This gives them something to live for and for some that is all they need.  ~Tara

 Here is a link to the tribute to Tara wrote for Jeff written shortly after he died.




About Lance Fiske 
Lance, a 2005 graduate of Brockton High School, loved playing baseball and basketball in high school. He attended the former Sacred Heart School and East Junior High School. To read more about Lance please check out the links below.

—————————–

“What if your child becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol?”

child artwork

Oh no! – The question.

Silence – The answer.

“Not MY kid!”

“I won’t let this happen to MY kid!”

“MY kid is too well behaved for drugs!”

“MY kid won’t hang out with THOSE kids!”

“OUR family is different than THOSE families.”

“MY kid goes to a great school…he gets good grades.”

Though those answers weren’t on my list of responses when asked the dreaded “what if” question, I had my own naive thoughts.

I sat silent for a while.

Ok, a long while.

Ok, I still haven’t shared my thoughts.

That is, until now.

Those thoughts went something like this…..

“Nooooo! He will play with Legos, get excited over finding nickels in the couch, eat yogurt tubes, suck juice boxes dry, sleep with “wolfie” at night and laugh at Sponge Bob for the rest of his life!!!”

That folks, is what I came up with.

Naive mom brain, if you will.

Reality check.

My 8 yr old will grow up and, in today’s society, fast!

Addiction is real. I know all too well.

So, what is my answer. “What if…”  Hello? Are you there? Jenn?

**deep breath**

Reality is harder than projecting on the ‘what if’s’, but through my own addiction, here are my thoughts……here it goes…

If my child is an addict….

I will love him no less.

Worry more.

Pray harder.

Reach out farther.

Talk to others.

Talk to him.

Not miss an opportunity to hold his hand.

Give him hope. Encourage him.

Plant the seed.

Hug him tight.

Answer his calls.

Say “no” a lot….a whole lot.

Tell him my story.

Tell him many stories.

Be strong in front of him.

Fall to pieces behind him.

Kiss his forehead.

Count his freckles.

Daydream of better days.

Cry  for him.

Cry for me.

Cry for my heart.

Cry for his heart.

Hate addiction all over again.

And one thing is for sure, without a doubt, I will have faith. As hard as it is to trust anyone with my child, my faith will have to be strong. As an addict, one thing I know for sure is addiction is too big for any parent…mom or dad; sibling; spouse; best friend; child. You can love them with all you are…all your being…but you can’t love them sober. If so, ALL addicts would be just that: sober.

I was asked the dreaded question: “What if my child is an addict?”

So in response, all I can do today is this.

Love him with all my being.

Hold him.

Count his freckles, watch him sleep, lay out his clothes.

Cut the crust off his sandwich and play the part of Santa, the tooth fairy and Easter bunny.

Today I can giggle with him. Help him cope with a bad day in 2nd grade.

Make memories.

Beautiful, innocent memories.

Today is all I have….the only time I have to teach him what I know about life, which isn’t really anything more than you. I’m just a mom who wonders what other parents wonder: how to protect my child.

Yet in the world of addiction, I wonder a bit more. Will he be?

Then again….maybe he won’t…

Originally posted on the Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation’s Facebook page.

Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation is a non-profit foundation that helps addicts, alcoholics and their families find support and treatment.

About Jenn Stottlemire:

Hi from Columbus, Ohio! I’m Jenn and, along with my son Jackson and my husband David, we are quite the trio!

I am passionate about passing on my experience; to give hope to the ones suffering and rally behind the broken.

Heroin took me on a wild ride straight to hell, but it wasn’t my only demon.

Through recovery, I have found the tools to tackle my hurts; build character and integrity.
Through God, I have found peace, forgiveness, serenity and strength; a foundation of faith unshakable at times.
And through both, I’m able to love the life I live.

 

I loved you to death and I love you beyond it. – Newest post on The Heroin Diaries

To the boy I spent years trying to save but couldn’t & for anyone who has ever lost an addict, I loved you too much for my own good. I spent nights awake staring at my phone with heavy eyes, praying the reason you hadn’t come home or called in days was for any other […]

via I loved you to death and I love you beyond it  — The Heroin Diaries

Motorcycles and Heroin: shattered ankle, shattered lives

img_7697

 

As I write this, tears are welling up in my eyes. I still can’t believe my son is gone. The months after his death were a fog filled with heartache, guilt and unbearable pain. I will never lay my eyes on my son again, I will never hug him or have my heart filled with joy at the sound of his laugh. The ache in my heart is a physical weight I carry with me every second of every day.  Everything I do, everything I am, carries with it the ghost of ‘what should be’- because my world has changed. It is a new world with empty spaces my son Josh used to – and should still – fill with his indescribable glow of energy, joy and life.

A shattered ankle killed my boy. It would take six years, but the stage was set the day my young, handsome, full of life son lost control of his dirt bike. Josh instinctively put his foot down to keep from crashing the bike and shattered his ankle; leaving his foot detached from his leg.

This is Josh’s story. It is also the story of so many other victims of the Opioid/Opiate Epidemic ravaging our country today. I tell his story to honor him and to help raise awareness so others can know the dangers of these medications prescribed for pain. Awareness and education are the keys to prevention.

My first son Joshua was born on June 5, 1983. He was small – only 4lbs 12oz. From the very beginning Josh was a fighter who caught up in no time and grew to be a 6’ 5” strapping young man with a smile that would light up a room.

Josh was always ready to take on the world and had many passions, motorcycles being at the forefront. His dad bought him his first quad when he was 3 and he was hooked! He later went on to race dirt bikes, and even built his own Harley.

Josh was very mechanically inclined and went to a technical high school where he studied HVAC. After graduation, he decided to join the Air Force… we were all so proud! When Josh returned home from the service, he became an HVAC mechanic and continued his hobby of buying and restoring motorcycles. Being a mother of 4 boys, someone was always getting hurt Josh definitely had his share.

In May of 2009 when Josh was 25, my son Zach called to tell me his brother had crashed his dirt bike. I later learned that the neighbors came out and put a pillow under his head in the middle of the street until the ambulance arrived. I will always be grateful for their quick response and the kindness they showed my son on this horrible day.

Josh would go on to have multiple surgeries. A piece of his hip was grafted into his ankle, which was also pinned and screwed. He had to deal with a case of MRSA, an infection caused by a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. MRSA is difficult to treat and extremely painful. Eventually the ankle was surgically fixed in place. He dealt with incredible pain daily and was told by his doctors the only real way to deal with the pain would be to amputate.

Eventually, his doctors took him off all pain medications – but it was too late. Josh was addicted. He went to the streets to find medication for his pain. When the pain pills became difficult to afford, he ended up on heroin.

My husband, Josh’s step-dad, told me that one of the last times he and Josh had a heart-to-heart, Josh told him how very sad he was. He wanted to get and stay clean, but it was too difficult. He felt ashamed, depressed and hopeless.

Josh started seeing a counselor and we all thought he was on the right track.

The night before Josh died, he had complained to his dad of a terrible case of heartburn that wasn’t getting better. Josh’s bedroom was in the basement of his father’s house and the next morning, knowing that Josh didn’t feel well, his dad wasn’t concerned when he slept late. It was close to noon and his father starting calling downstairs for Josh to wake up. He called several times, but there was no answer. His father finally went downstairs to find Josh kneeling with his face on the bed, as if he was praying. His dad said, “what the heck are you doing”, but again no answer. He lifted his head and Josh was blue, he was gone. There was a pack of cigarettes on the floor next to him, and a syringe.

I received a phone call early afternoon from Josh’s Grandmother. I was downstairs in my office working and my husband called down to say the phone was for me. When I finally understood what she was telling me, my legs gave way and I fell to my knees and screamed, “Oh my God, Oh my Josh!!!” My son was dead. My head was swirling. This couldn’t be real. I couldn’t breathe. How? Why? It must be a mistake!  I just wanted to see Josh and hold him-  but I couldn’t – because it was real, and I would never see my beautiful boy’s face again. The next few days were a blur filled with agony and disbelief. All I could do was cry and ask ‘why?’.

The funeral was planned and my job was to do the memory boards for the wake. It was very difficult for me to look through 31 years of pictures. So many images of my blond, curly headed baby – Josh smiling proudly in his Boy Scout uniform, playing baseball, riding his motorcycles and turning into the handsome man he had become in his Air Force uniform. Today, almost two years later, I am unable to take those memory boards out of the bag I placed them in to bring home after his funeral.

Josh was cremated and his ashes were put into a marble box. A picture of him in his Air Force uniform was placed next to the box. The priest came, several people stood and talked about Josh, we laughed, and we cried.  Then it was time to move to the cemetery for a military burial.

As they played taps, my body trembled and I couldn’t stop crying. I was surrounded by my three sons, my husband, my sister and other family members. After everything was said and it was time to leave I went to the marble box with my son’s ashes and said goodbye, told him that I loved him and kissed the top of the box. No mother should have to kiss cold marble and walk away, leaving her 31-year-old son at the cemetery because he broke his ankle.

These senseless deaths have risen at an alarming rate over the past few years. In 2015 (the last numbers released) there were 52,404 deaths due to drug overdose in the US – averaging out to 144 deaths per day.  (Addiction Policy – Understanding the Numbers)

It took almost a year to get the autopsy results as they are backlogged with the overwhelming amount of deaths due to drugs. The cause of death was a heroin/fentanyl overdose.

In honor of my son, I have started the Joshua’s Tree Memorial Fund. I am a producer of a local TV show and have been nominated for two New England Emmy’s. Joshua’s Tree is a memorial fund to raise money to help in my dream of making a documentary on drug addiction and how it touches everyone. I believe that prevention is the key and my hope is to have it shown in classrooms at an early age to educate, raise awareness and help in the prevention of addiction.

Please visit my website: The Wish Store where I am selling the Joshua’s Tree necklace. It is a beautiful tree pendant to help raise funds. I chose the symbol of the tree with its branches reaching out with comfort and healing and its roots standing firm as a message of hope and strength.

I hope that whoever buys the pendant will wear it with pride, knowing that they are a part of the fight against this horrible epidemic.

My wish is that no one will have to bury a child due to a heroin overdose.

Please share Josh’s story.  If this helps just one person then my wish has come true.

I love you Josh!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Helen Ryba has been in the graphic design field for more than 30 years owning the award-winning Design Agency, Spark Design, as well as the producer of the Emmy-nominated “The Chef’s Plate” TV Show. She recently started two subscription box services, Spiced UP and The Wish Store. Through The Wish Store, Helen has set up the Joshua’s Tree Memorial Fund in honor of her late son Joshua Romanski. You can follow her on Facebook at Joshua’s Tree.