The Mess You’ll Leave Behind


Dear active drug user,

I know you believe it’s your life and you’re only hurting yourself. You’re wrong. I know you believe you’re indestructible, that what you’ve witnessed happen to so many of your friends won’t happen to you. You’re wrong again. Sooner or later it will.

Here’s what will happen after you die.

First, someone will find your body. Maybe you’ll die at home and your Mom will find you and start screaming. Maybe you’ll die in your bedroom; maybe in the basement that your Dad rebuilt so you and your friends would have a place to chill. 911 will be called and first responders will come. Paramedics will cut off your shirt, put the paddles on your chest and try to shock your ass back to life, but it won’t work and one of them will turn to your Mom or Dad and say, “I’m sorry, he’s gone.”

Your family will be ushered outside, the police will string up that yellow “crime scene” tape and start their investigation. Your cell phone will be confiscated and your parents will probably never see it again. Hours later, while neighbors start gathering on the front lawn, they’ll put your body in a bag, put the bag on a stretcher and wheel it out to a coroner’s van and take you to the morgue. Maybe they’ll cut you open, take out all your organs, weigh and measure them and them stuff them back inside you and sew you up. More likely, they’ll just draw some blood and urine to do a toxicology screen.

Hopefully, you won’t die in your car. If you do, I hope you’re not driving at the time. I hope the last thing you do on this earth isn’t crashing into and killing someone else, maybe more than one person. I pray that’s not your legacy. If you don’t die at home, your parents will get a visit from the local cops and a ride down to the coroner’s office so they can identify your body.

That first week after you die will be a busy time for your parents. They will need to figure out who in what was your life needs to be notified; the rest of the family, your friends – that will be difficult because the cops have your cell phone so all they’ll be able to do is tell one or two of your closest friends; most of the rest will hear about it pretty quickly, but some won’t learn for weeks — your employer, your school. Lots of tearful phone calls will be made.

Your parents will have to pick a funeral home, arrange for your body to be shipped from the coroner’s office to the funeral home, pick out a casket, find a cemetery, one close by, so your Mom can visit you every day; pick out a nice four by eight foot plot, maybe beside a tree, and buy the only piece of real estate you will ever own. Your Mom will have to pick out the suit you’ll be buried in and deliver it to the funeral home. Your parents will need to decide what your obituary should say; should they acknowledge that you lost your battle with addiction or simply say that you died quietly at home.

Your Mom will go through all of this in a fog because she will be out of her mind with grief. Maybe she’ll carry one of your unwashed shirts around with her for the entire week, holding it to her face so she can smell you. Maybe she’ll sleep in your bed with your shirt and a framed photograph. And she won’t stop crying. Everywhere she turns something else will remind her of you. The leftovers from the last food you bought; the stale remnants of the last soda you ever drank.

One of the women in the neighborhood will organize folks to deliver casseroles and other food to your parents and neighbors will stop by once or twice a day for a week or so bringing food. Preparations will need to be made for your funeral. The church or hall will have to be decorated. Your Mom will want lots of pictures of you and each one she picks out will cause her to cry again. Eulogies will be written and delivered, maybe by your father, maybe by your little brother, maybe both. Your family will stand in a receiving line and will have to hear, “Sorry for your loss” and say, “Thank you for coming.”

After the service, your coffin will be carried outside to a hearse; maybe your little brother will be one of the pallbearers. The hearse will lead a procession of cars, all with their lights on, to the cemetery where there will be more tears, and a prayer will be said before your casket is lowered into the ground. Not everyone will have gone to the cemetery. Someone will volunteer to go to your parent’s house directly after the funeral to set out the food your neighbors have brought for the mourners who will come over after the funeral.

In the weeks after your funeral there will still be more matters to attend to. Your parents will have to wait for the toxicology report to be sent to the coroner’s office so that final death certificate can be prepared. Your parents will need lots of copies so they can notify your creditors, close your bank account, cancel your auto insurance, maybe notify your parole officer.

In the months and years that follow, things won’t get any better. Every holiday will be a time of sadness instead of joy, because it will remind your parents that you’re gone. And now they have another anniversary to make them sad, the anniversary of your death.

I can tell you for a fact that your Mom will never be the same. Some things she used to do joyfully she will no longer be able to do because they are too painful. Remember how she used to like to surprise you with special treats she bought at the food store? Well now she can’t go food shopping because everywhere she turns in the store she sees something she remembers you liked to eat. Those gardens she was so proud of in the front lawn. They’re forgotten now. The only garden she cares about is the tiny one around your grave that she tends almost every day.

So don’t think, and don’t say, that it’s your life and you’re only hurting yourself because that is simple not true. Your actions have consequences and they can be irreversible for you and can destroy the lives of people who love and care about you. Please, please, please, get clean, if not for yourself, then do it for them.


Cris Fiore lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He and his wife Valerie are working tirelessly to help save other people’s children in the name of their beloved son Anthony. The Fiores ask that you PLEASE sign and share the petition for Anthony’s Act , a request that the Affordable Care Act be amended to provide for a minimum of Ninety (90) days inpatient drug or alcohol treatment up to a maximum of One Hundred Eighty (180) days per year at a facility certified to provide such care by the Secretary of Health of the state in which it is located.

Facebook page – Anthony’s Act.

Please click on this link to sign the petition:


223 thoughts on “The Mess You’ll Leave Behind

  1. Resonate well with me… But am already on the road to recovery and back in this self improvement rat race. Sometimes, we get so caught up by our own worries in our lives to even care those who actually care for us. So here’s a note to every drug users or curious seekers out there. Yes. The feeling is nice and all and that might ended up being your short escape from reality. But that harms you. Even if you are not dead, you could end up sufferimg badly in the later part of your lives. Your looks, your future, everything you worked hard for, every good thingz that your parents gave to you hoping you will succeed in future; imagine them crashing down right at your fingertips. So don’t do drugsm don’t do stuff that you will regret later on in lives. I may be Young, but I am pretty sure I have my fair share of experience. So don’t do drugs. Instead, take a breather and appreciate every single things in your life, do matter how small it is. Be thankful for them. Each day is a new day, is a day given to you that can potentially change your future. Don’t let it slipped through your fingertips. Don’t waste time doing drugs


  2. Never a drug addict, but alcohol almost claimed my life. I’m sorry for your loss but I’m happy you are winning the battle. Keep fighting for awareness and change. I’ve felt with a lot of death in my life – 2 friends committed suicide, 1 overdose, and 2 murdered. It’s never easy but the fight is worth it. Be the change. ❤️


  3. Just attended the funeral of a beautiful 19 year old young man yesterday. He overdosed on Fentanyl. His Mom looked as if she aged 10 years. It was their only child.
    My 28 year old son has been in and out of prison for nearly 11 years now, he started with Oxycontin, then heroin…he sold one pill to and under cover cop, he relapes when he gets out and goes back to prison.
    I have had my 6 year old grandson for 6 years and have adopted him, his bio mother went to prison.
    I have become a recovery coach and advocate.


  4. wow, so powerful. What a brilliant way to communicate that what we do has ramifications beyond what we think is our own problem, our pain and ours alone, especially for young ones. I think this post broaches the impact of suicide as well. I’ve been there. You are so wrapped up in your own pain and fighting your demons, you forget that other people are in the arena with you, and more times than not, they are fighting right along side us. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I have no doubt this will make many stop and think and hopefully remember they are not alone…


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