May 11,1989 – June 2,2015
One year ago today a friend I had not seen in years lost her son to heroin. His death was the catalyst for launching this blog with the article Heroin.Stop the Silence. Speak the Truth. Start the Conversation.
In the year since Marc’s death we have watched as the Opioid/Opiate Epidemic has made headlines and CARA has (finally) been passed in DC. Unfortunately, the death toll is still rising and I fear that 2016 may be the deadliest yet. As Washington debates what needs to be done and how much money should be spent to curb this epidemic 129 people are dying each day.
ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY NINE A DAY!
Every one of the 129 souls lost each day leave behind a shattered family who must move forward with a hole in their Universe. Today, I am sending my love to one of those families. Pauline, Elisa and Mike Alberts my thoughts and prayers are with you on this day and every day. ❤
Below is a letter written by Marc’s sister Elisa. She never had the chance to give it to him. Elisa chose to share her letter to the CAASA: Canton Alliance Against Substance Abuse Facebook page just six weeks after she lost her brother in the hope that her words would help others:
“Here’s a letter I wrote to my brother before his passing. Unfortunately this was one of the several letters I wrote hoping to change his life. I was not able to give it to him because of everything that had occurred. Maybe this will help someone from realizing what their addiction means to their family members.
You probably don’t want to read this letter, or talk to me because of my actions toward you lately. I understand your hatred and frustration of living at home with two women who constantly remind you of your mistakes. Even though I have not lived in the shoes of your own, I still try my best to find out where you’re coming from. It’s very difficult to agree and stand by you after this long journey but that doesn’t mean that I’ll ever lose my love for you. Forever we will be family members and I will always remain to be your little sister. Continue reading “For the Alberts Family One Year After Heroin Stole Your Marc”
It certainly wasn’t what anyone whose life has been shattered by addiction anticipated seeing when they turned on SNL expecting to have a few laughs. Addiction isn’t even a little funny. People are dying and lives are being destroyed every single day – and there is no humor to be found in any part of this epidemic.
They say ‘you know you’ve made it’ when SNL writes about it, so I guess in one way we should be glad that we have been loud enough about the epidemic to get their attention. This parody was one of their most tasteless to date, but what has made people react so viscerally to it goes to the heart of the matter. Our kids are dying. Heroin use, as SNL pointed out, is on the rise. And yes, mothers, school bus drivers and soccer coaches are not immune to addiction. Continue reading “Saturday Night Live tried to joke about heroin, but there is nothing funny about this epidemic.”
I often receive messages from people with links to content they feel I may be interested in sharing on our Facebook page. Recently a number of these links are bringing me to content stolen from this blog to junk sites riddled with ads.
Those of us touched by addiction are preyed upon from the moment we go onto the web looking for resources or treatment options. It is for this reason I have no advertising on my blog. I have been approached by a number of companies looking to advertise everything from books, videos, for profit treatment facilities, and counseling services. Just today I received an offer for a pay per call link, where I would be paid for every call generated from my website to a treatment helpline. As we will be filing for a nonprofit soon, we could certainly use the money – but this is not the way.
Addiction is a hot topic online right now – my blog has had close to 3 million views, and our Facebook has just shy of 9K followers. I don’t appreciate people finding another way to line their pockets with our pain. I have always allowed any and all nonprofit and not for profit organizations and websites to share my words. Even as the ‘stolen content’ articles are being shared the message still gets out – and that is truly a good thing.
The sites I am writing about are created simply to generate revenue without doing any work. We can, as consumers, become more aware of what we are sharing.
Please keep an eye out for these junk sites and don’t help them profit by taking advantage of us while poaching people’s work. They are easy to spot. Many of them have medical and health in their name. Much of the time the articles will be posted by ‘admin’, the post will be loaded with ads, and the article may cut off abruptly. If it is a site loaded with articles and none of them have a link back to the original post that is also a clue. Continue reading “Warning: please watch for junk sites with poached content!”
Recently on our Facebook page I asked people to tell me about that day they switched from pills to heroin. I had heard enough stories to know that almost nobody began with heroin, and even when they switch most have zero intention to ever touch a syringe. So what happens. How do they get there?
Often after an article about the drug epidemic is posted online, and more specifically when Narcan is mentioned, there will be the comments of ‘just let them die’, ‘Darwinism at its best’, ’thinning the herd’ ‘they chose this life, so the get what they deserve’.
Every addict is someone’s child, sister, brother, mother, father, loved one. The scathing attitudes and opinions others wield so safely at home on their computer are like gut punches to those in addiction as well as those who love them. They are especially painful to those who have lost a loved one to overdose. More importantly, they perpetuate the stigma that people in addiction don’t deserve compassion or treatment — simply ‘let ’em all die’…..
Let he without sin cast the first stone:
- Those who never broke any rules in adolescence, who never thought they knew better and didn’t take risks – including (but not limited to): driving too fast, underage drinking, sneaking out of the house, underage sex, binge drinking, smoking pot, taking any drug not prescribed to you, shoplifting, vandalism….
- Those who as adults have never drank to get drunk/buzzed, driven while drunk, driven while stoned, blown through a red light, driven above the speed limit…..
Many of us made poor decisions and broke rules as adolescents, sometimes even into college and beyond.
My question to all of the baby boomers out there. Where would your parent’s prescription pills have fallen on the above list? Pills were being passed around high schools in the past few decades like joints in our day. If you would have smoked a joint in high school or college, would you have tried some Oxy, smoked or snorted it? ‘It’s just the stuff your mom takes for her back pain you know.’ Continue reading “The Winding Path to Heroin: Part I”
When you have a loved one in long term recovery things begin to ease up. It’s a slow process, but if you work on letting go and understanding you have no control you inch closer and closer to being able to breathe. One day you realize you fell asleep and woke up without that band of anxiety gripping your chest. When your phone rings and it’s your loved one, panic is no longer your instinctive reaction. The fear stays with you, but you learn to keep it at bay. You remind yourself it’s their life, and that projecting will do you no good. Live for today, be joyful for everything that is good in your life. Amen.
That’s what I would have written a few months ago. But all it took was my mother’s intuition –honed to pinpoint precision through years of codependency – to sound a warning bell and I took ten giant steps backward. My son did not relapse, but he was having a difficult time. I could feel it coming, and the panic, helplessness, terror and anxiety stampeded back into my life and, like puzzle pieces, settled into the familiar spaces in my brain shaped just for them. Continue reading “Codependence, Anxiety and a Smack on the Head”
Bill Williams and Margot Head lost their son William to a heroin overdose. They have spent every day since his death fighting to save other people’s children. In speaking out and sharing the story of William’s battle to beat addiction they are shining a light on the broken mental health and insurance systems.
On Friday, October 30th, 2015 Bill Williams spoke at the Staff Recognition Ceremony of the National Institute of Drug Addiction, a division of the National Institute of Health. After the speech he and his wife Margot held a question and answer session.
Bill has graciously allowed me to re-post his words for all of you to read and share. This speech was originally posted on Bill Williams’ Blog on Nov. 3, 2015. Continue reading “Heroin stole their son. Bill Williams and Margot Head will not rest until the War on Addiction is won.”
Kate Meyer of I Am Not Anonymous wrote a powerful blog post about the UNITE to Face Addiction rally in DC, The Day the Silence Ended . Don’t skip the link at the bottom of the article to the photo gallery. Amazing photos – she really captured the day!
On October 3rd and 4th I stood beside my son in Washington DC. I stood with him at the Fed Up! rally on Saturday as Chief Campanello and John Rosenthal spoke to us about the Gloucester Initiative and PAARI (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative). We raised our voices and marched with thousands to the White House- then later stood in silence while hundreds of names of those lost to addiction were read.
We were together as Cheryl Crowe sang For What it’s Worth in the shadow of the Washington Monument during the UNITE to Face Addiction rally. I got goosebumps as she belted out “Everybody look what’s going down…”.
We stood as the Surgeon General announced that the first ever report commissioned on substance use, addiction, and health will be published in 2016.
” I’m here to say that we won’t hide from this issue because it’s hard for some to talk about. Because we know there was a time in this country when it was hard to talk about smoking, about AIDS, and about mental health. But we were fortunate enough to have leaders who stood up and said: It’s time for us to have a conversation in this country that’s based on facts; A conversation that’s based on medicine and science.” ~ Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
(full transcript of speech available here)
Continue reading “We UNITED to Face Addiction. No More Silence.”
On August 6, 2015 my husband and I watched our son Kurt, a recovering heroin addict, receive his 18 month chip. He chose to go to the alumni meeting at the place where he had started his recovery, the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Hospital – CeDAR. We sat in the same room where we first reunited with Kurt three weeks into his recovery. At that time we were all exhausted and still feeling raw and overburdened with the weight of the past we were wearing – a leaden cloak we thought was our armor, but was mostly woven out of sadness and fear. Eighteen months later there we were, in that very same space, watching our son address alumni as well as present clients of CeDAR – some just starting their program, others receiving their 30 day chips and a few close to completing their 90 day program. It was his moment. We went to witness and support him in his moment. We are proud for him, rather than proud of him. He earned that chip for himself by slogging through his program one step, one day at a time. He had to pull every thread of that leaden cloak out and study it. He unwove it through hard work and perseverance during some of the most difficult months of his life. He forged his path and he stayed on it. For those in early recovery, 18 hours seems impossible and 18 days a distant goal. For eighteen miraculous months Kurt has been working hard every day.
Continue reading “Addiction is a Family Affair. We All Need Recovery”
When my oldest was about a week old I remember looking down into his beautiful eyes and being struck by an overwhelming sense of fear. Icy terror washed over me as I realized the full weight of my responsibility for this tiny human. How was I going to do this right? What was I going to do wrong? I knew I’d do something wrong, would it scar him for life? I was the one who would have to teach him to navigate a world I was not sure I fully understood myself.
We are parents. We have all had this moment, and the fear stays with us……forever. These tiny beings may grow taller than us, they may move across the country and have tiny beings of their own someday – but they will always remain our innocent, irreplaceable miracles, and we will always be their parents.
Those early years we get to be their protector and gatekeeper to the world. For a short time, we are super heroes. I still remember my children’s chubby little arms squeezing my neck so hard it felt like they wanted to crawl inside me. There is no other feeling like that on earth. Simply nothing compares to being your child’s everything. Each of my children told me at some point they were never leaving home. I smiled, loving every second of it, knowing it wouldn’t last. Kids grow up. Continue reading “Drug Addiction: Maybe My Kid”