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.

 

 

 

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

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

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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.

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“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.

 

If you think the Opioid/Opiate Epidemic hasn’t affected you, think again.

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Anyone who is stupid enough to put a needle in their vein deserves what they get is a sentiment we are reading/hearing all too often lately. Many people think addiction is not their problem if it hasn’t touched their families or loved ones. Whether you realize it or not, we are all caught in the ripple of this epidemic – so it is your problem.

A few examples:

  • Obviously it is touching the lives of anyone who has a loved one with Substance Use Disorder. This equates to time lost at work, or certainly distracted employees.  If the person is in active addiction and is employed, you can bet they are not working to capacity.
  • Our court system is jammed with people suffering SUD. The dollars cost on policing, jailing, probation oversight, court costs…………the list could go on…. is enourmous.
  • Child Protective Services cannot keep up with the amount of children in the system due to this epidemic. These children are growing up in chaos.
  • Police, firefighters, paramedics, and hospitals are all overwhelmed with overdoses and other health issues related to constant drug use.
  • Unscrupulous treatment facilities are falsifying claims and overcharging insurance companies ($1500 for a urine test?!?!?) which are paying out for the wrong kind of treatment while those in accredited hospital facilities where the billing is true and accurate cannot get coverage. All of our insurance rates increase.

Our tax dollars are spent putting out the fires caused by this epidemic. We need to put our dollars to use with a multi-pronged and organized response. The ground work has been laid by many who fought for CARA to be passed. Continue reading “If you think the Opioid/Opiate Epidemic hasn’t affected you, think again.”

The Mess You’ll Leave Behind

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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.

the-fiores-testify

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: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/anthonys-act

 



The Winding Path to Heroin Part II: Emily

IMG_2802Editor’s note:   This is the second installment of The Winding Path to Heroin. The first installment can be found at this link: The Winding Path to Heroin: Part I

The recent viral shares on social media with videos and photos of people overdosing  have fueled an onslaught of judgment and ugliness.  The comments accompanying these posts speak to the herculean task we still face trying to educate people about this epidemic. Many post threads devolve into name calling and arguments of  about disease vs choice. I have read recently many posts, some by those in recovery, that we need to stop making those with Substance Use Disorder victims. They have accountability in all of this, and we need to take away the ‘excuse’ that this is a disease as it allows them to remain victims. Yes, we are all accountable for our actions. SUD is not an ‘excuse’, it is a fact. It explains why some people can drink socially and can ‘dabble’ with substances and others become addicted. Beware with the opioids, however, because even those who never had a problem can become physically dependent on these powerful chemicals. As the medical community is taking steps to limit how they use these meds, I hope they begin to put into practice a concrete weaning schedule for those who have been taking opioids regularly for even a few weeks after a surgery.  This is the practice with so many other medications, why not opioids? Continue reading “The Winding Path to Heroin Part II: Emily”

A Message from Elizabeth Anne Grundy, ‘The Junkie’s Wife’

dear-judgy-lady

You can take the situation out of the codie ( and I do not mean that in a good way) but you can not take the codie out of the girl. I wish so much that I could reply to every one of you, but I have severe ADD and I already drank 3 diet cokes today😊

Here is what I want to say to each and every person who has messaged me about someone they love with all their heart and can not live with out. Someone they are worried sick about. Someone who is so integral to their very existence, simply, I understand.

Each and every story, while different in their own way all have the same bare bones.

I would never ever think that I have the audacity to channel the voice of a mother,a father ,a sibling , a child; My experience is that of a lover and a partner and that is the point of view that I can speak on, but I do know the gamut of emotions that most of you have run through while dealing with active addiction.

I know your fear, your sadness, your anger. I know your disappointment, your dashed and renewed hopes. I know the messes you have tried to clean up, the money you have spent, the oscar winning speeches you have given, the tantrums you have pulled. I know the gps trackers you have installed, the sleepless nights, the 3 am searches in the worst neighborhoods. I know the bargaining, the pleading, the manipulations and the monumental screaming matches. I know you have threatened drug dealers and knocked down doors in a pair of size 5 flimsy converses. I know when it comes to trying to protect the person you love you are 5ft 2 inches of pure terror( ok, lets face it, I am talking about me on this one😊) ( I am also not suggesting this is a good idea)

I know the birthdays that have been ruined. I know the holidays that have been even more ruined. I know that verizon probably wants to institutionalize you for the 96 phone calls and texts you sent in an hour. I know that you sometimes wish you really were institutionalized. I know the endless support you have given and how you wish for just one day that it could be about you. I know you have panic attacks. I know you look like shit and feel like shit. I know you are trying like Hell to fake like everything is fine. I know you have said things you regret. I know that there were things you wanted to say that you never got a last chance to.

I know that you have turned into someone you don’t recognize; someone bitter and oozing pain from every pore. I know that you feel alone. I know the plans you are afraid to make , because you don’t know where your loved one will be in sobriety on that day. I know you have lost friends. I know people are sick of hearing it. I know you have finally begun to suffer in silence because said people are sick of hearing it. I know you are embarrassed. I know you have lost your shit so epically, many times, that you made Britney 2007 look like an amateur.

I know you have deleted phone numbers, hidden keys, locked up valuables and slept with money on your person. I know you watch breathing patterns. I know you are tired. I know sometimes you wish you would die. I know you have no spoons. I know you do not feel like you can face another day.

More importantly; I know your unconditional love. I know you are doing the best you can do because of that love. I know you don’t know what the fuck to do anymore. I know that watching the person you love turn into the person both you and they hate is tearing your heart out.

I know you have tried every single thing you can possibly do. EVERYTHING except help yourself.

I would not change a single thing about my life
with Ed, I loved him, I adored him and I liked being with him more than any other adult on this planet, but If I could do it all over again, I would have found better ways to take care of ME while leaving the rest up to a higher power( who knew there was one higher than me😊) I could fight beside him, but it wasn’t my battle, it was his. Believe me, I know that is the most frustrating part. We want to do anything humanly possible to keep the people we love safe. If love could have saved my guy he surely would have been immortal.

I would have lectured less, prayed more and just simply loved. Even if at times I had to do that from a distance.

I wish with all my heart, I had answers and soloutions for many of you, I don’t. I can just empathazie, support , pray for and love each and every single one of you who has reached out to me.

I had hope until Ed’s last breath. Where there is life there is hope and I sincerely wish for each and every one of you that hope becomes a reality.

Lots of love and big cyber hugs

 

~Elizabeth Ann Grundy

 

Dear judgy lady on Facebook- I hope you never learn about addiction the way I have.

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Dear judgy lady on Facebook,

I read the article you shared on narcan. Your opinion and commentary made my pulse pound and my face flush. I was angry, but after a few minutes passed I didn’t want to punch you in the face anymore. My heart softened towards you, because I know you just don’t get it. You are so lucky and I am envious of that. I wish more than anything else that I didn’t get it either. I never wanted to and As much as I think you suck for saying what you did,I hope you never have to.

You see, I know something you don’t know. I have lived it, walked it and most importantly survived it, while you sit on the other end of a computer content in your ignorance. I hear that it is bliss. Continue reading “Dear judgy lady on Facebook- I hope you never learn about addiction the way I have.”

My Dear Child, I Forgive You…

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My Dear Child,
 I forgive you.

There is something you need to know that perhaps I haven’t said. I forgive you; and you need to forgive yourself.

 

In the beginning, I think we both felt the incredible weight of this disease, and the more angry and frustrated I got, the sicker you became. It took me a long time to understand the truth of why this was happening. I thought perhaps my yelling and screaming and fighting would cure you. I was battling for your life. I knew no other way.Even my sobbing couldn’t move you. Please, know that whatever I did, I did because I thought it might help. Continue reading “My Dear Child, I Forgive You…”