For Mandy


For Mandy final


Why do we hide, cover up, and refuse to acknowledge addictions in our loved ones’ lives? I have seen over and over, ‘the family requests to keep this private’ in a Facebook post, email or obituary.

There isn’t anything about heroin addiction that should be kept private. It is a terrible disease. When we choose to keep quiet, who benefits?  Are we protecting our loved one? If they are alive and seeking help, maybe, so they wont be judged if they pull through this awful illness. If their disease beats them and takes them from us, how does privacy help? Are we protecting them or our own reputation and fear of judgement?

When we keep heroin addiction private, haven’t those we lost lived and died in vain?  On the contrary we need to bring the horrible effects of this addiction into the spotlight! We need to show our children (yes children as young as 13) the consequences of ‘trying’ heroin, even one time.

I have lost, and come close to losing, kids that I love because of this horrible drug. Heroin addictions are epidemic. It isn’t just affecting ‘other people’ anymore. It is widespread and does not discriminate on race, income, education, or gender. It is demographically neutral. It is everywhere, in the city, the suburbs and small towns.

If you live through this as a loved one, or especially if you were an addict who found your way through, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR – a survivor of one of the worst disasters a generation of Americans has faced .

Tell people what happened. Don’t be embarrassed, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You were deceived by evil itself. Let people know that beautiful, fun, outgoing kid, who everyone liked and had all things going for them was caught and led away by this evil. Let people know when your loved one fought with everything they had to break addiction’s hold, but in the end it was just to strong. That if it happened to them, it could happen to any of us. More importantly, shout from the rooftops if you are in recovery! People need to know there IS hope, people DO recover!

Let people know how hard it is to love people through this ordeal. Make them understand they are not alone – that it is normal to separate yourself from this disease for self-preservation because we can no longer take the pain of watching someone we love do this to themselves.

Please know we never stop loving. We love our children . If we deny the tragedy that is heroin and do not use the horrible opportunities to educate, inform and change, our loved ones have died in vain.

Once I opened up about this disease I did not feel judged or looked down upon. I was astonished at how many people were also affected by addiction and lost in their secrecy. I believe that if we own this, we can beat it in time.

I loved you Mandy. I am thankful for God’s patience so you could spend eternity with him.                                ~September 1, 2015



So today Facebook sent me a birthday reminder for a young woman who left this world way to young.  At first I just cried at the senseless loss. Then I smiled and remembered her birthdays in our home and picking her birthday dinner and cake, and what a treat that was for her. I am glad we had the opportunity to show love and forgiveness to her. A love and forgiveness that comes from Jesus.


I encourage people to break the silence about addictions.


Reach out for help and support.

Inform your kids.

Watch what prescriptions you take.

Know that heroin is an evil killer.

Talk to a doctor about getting Narcan if you live around an addict.

Know that more people than you realize have walked in your shoes and are willing to help and support you, if they just knew you needed it.


RIP Mandy           ~March 3, 2016


about Joanna Bellinger: I am a 49 yr old mother of 3. I am a successful real estate career and have been active in my church and community. My oldest taught me that ‘it does happen here’. My other 2 children have paid a horrible price for his addictions. Addiction has strained every thread that holds a family together. I never dreamed I could say this, but he is on a good path now. Naranon wasn’t my cup of tea. My goal is to support and educate other families about addictions by being as vocal as possible so that others are more comfortable speaking the truth and reaching out.


9 thoughts on “For Mandy

  1. Hi, first off I want to say sorry for your loss. Secondly, my name is also mandy and I was compelled to read this when I saw my name. You just may have very well saved my life. I’ve been addicted to heroin for about a year now. I’ve stopped and relapsed 3 times. I am going to stop again after reading this article. I just can’t imagine my mom going through what you’re going through. I certainly don’t want to leave her and put her anymore pain than I already have. Just please keep me in you’re thoughts and prayers that I succeed this time. I will certainly be keeping all of you in mine. Good bless you! ❤


  2. I am a mom of a recovering addict, he has lost many friends to this Evil drug or maybe I should say We lost, I continue to fight this evil in my head hoping my son’s 2 years clean becomes 5 10 or the rest of his life clean. I hope and pray everytime he walks out the door that he comes home ok my prayers and best wishes go out to every family that have lost the battle. Naranon wasn’t for me I kept hearing my son or daughter needs to apologize I don’t trust them they’ll do it again once an addiction always an addict. I was glad to have my son back and hope he now knows what the devil looks and feels like and continues on this good path to recovery and to take as many of his friends with him


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