Lost in Plain Sight

image

The need, the compulsion that overcame any self respect, principles, and morals; that could never be me. I have too much to lose, I am only doing this for him, I am not addicted – I don’t even like the feeling. At 16 years old I believed I was the greatest power in the world. Nothing could ever gain control of my entire life. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how wrong I was. If only I were born with a warning for my parents, that I came with this mental disease called addiction. Not that anyone in the world could have saved me from what I had to go through to be where I am today.

I’m not even sure why I drank the first time, I wasn’t really sure what alcohol was at that age. I was 12 years old and found a bottle of gin at my grandparents. My friend and I thought it would be cool, after all – adults drink! Well, a half a bottle of gin and two shots of orange juice later; my friend didn’t like the taste. So without any warning I felt the need to not waste any of it and drank both glasses. I only remember the very beginning of that night. I woke up in the middle of the living room floor with my father sitting next to me crying. I had alcohol poisoning. My parents were afraid to get me in trouble for drinking, so my Dad sat up all night taking care of me and saved my life. I had no control over how much I consumed, I couldn’t stop. I waited years before I picked up my next drink sometime in early high school. Everyone was drinking, I didn’t think I was any different from all of my friends. I was an honor roll student, started working in a daycare and I was in control. Continue reading “Lost in Plain Sight”

Forward March: Recovery, Change and Faith

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last month my husband, daughter and I loaded our three dogs and a few months’ necessities into two cars. We left Colorado behind with a ‘for sale’ sign on our lawn and headed to St. Petersburg, Florida with no clue where we would be living. We had rented an Airbnb little cottage in Gulfport for the rest of the summer and hoped that would be enough time to figure out where we wanted to live.

Leaving Colorado behind was hard. We had made friends there. We fell in love with the Rocky Mountains, the park, Vail, Pagosa Hot Springs, Hanging Lake…. All of it……..

More difficult was leaving our son Kurt behind. He had gotten a job as an electrical apprentice and it was going well. For the past six months he was handing most of his paycheck over to his landlady to pay off back rent from when he had been out of work. He was SO close to caught up when he lost his job. His story involves another, it is not mine to tell so I’ll simply say that he told me he learned you cannot save people – they have to save themselves – and you cannot forgo a paycheck even if you want to be there for others, sometimes you have to think of yourself first and go to work no matter what is happening. Addicts in recovery can be co-dependents too…… Continue reading “Forward March: Recovery, Change and Faith”

Honoring My Child: Understanding Substance Use Disorder is a disease.

 

Jason and me

To Whom It May Concern – in other wordsEverybody,

On December 23, 2015 my world changed forever. Our 29 year old son, Jason, died in our home of a Heroin overdose. I now see the world through a veil of tears and struggle to find my footing each day when I wake and realize again, that it is real. The several years of battling his addiction caused so much pain for him, as well as our family. He felt shame, remorse, failure and regret. We felt lost, horrified, let down and confused by the American government and medical system. He worried about everything. He was in and out of rehabs, jail, IOP, NA meetings and a halfway house not worth mentioning. My secret society of Nar Anon members each suffered as I did. Each week we would share our frustration, pain and confusion as to why professionals just did not get what was needed to help our loved ones help themselves. As my co-workers slowly found out (I worked in a hospital) what had happened, they couldn’t believe that MY child was an addict. Continue reading “Honoring My Child: Understanding Substance Use Disorder is a disease.”

Disease or not, he always said if it was any other health issue he would be treated with respect.

 

image003

Below is a tribute written by a sister for her brother who passed April 29th, 2016 from a heroin overdose at the age of 31. Just three years apart, they were not only brother and sister, but best friends.  After battling addiction for years and becoming sober, her brother passed into eternal life after a recent relapse. She’s shared her last words to the public in hopes to not only honor her brother, but to speak truth to how addiction does not discriminate.  Tara hopes to continue sharing her story to shed light on the problems behind addiction and to remind others that we need to spend less time judging and stereotyping, and more time working together to understanding this epidemic that is taking away so many of our loved ones.  

I’ve held off on writing my last words or making a speech in front of everyone about my brother, because I still cannot believe this is real. But it has finally hit me just how real this all is. That I will never laugh with him or see him again. But I’ve felt the need to share these words. How do you go on to write about the greatest person you have ever known, and get it right? As he would say.. Here comes the Novel!

I think it’s fair to say Jeff was one of the most unique human beings we have ever had the chance to know. His sense of humor, loyalty, huge heart, protectiveness, patience and craziness is what attracted so many people to his life. He was probably the only one calm enough to deal with half of his family/friends. As he would say,

“This is my family?”

“These are my friends?”

He was always the voice of reason, diffusing any situation with love and laughter. For those that know the real Jeff, you know he was one of the most selfless people. He would drop anything to be there for someone he cared about, no matter if the circumstances were in his favor or not. He always told me I did too much for those who didn’t appreciate me,  but to never lose that about myself because that is what made me special -to always know my worth. He was someone who always had the right intentions and knew what he wanted in life and who he wanted to be …. naturally smart and socially inept….always the biggest heart, a dreamer with a deep crazy soul and an undeniable love for music. I have always admired the person he was. Continue reading “Disease or not, he always said if it was any other health issue he would be treated with respect.”

Saturday Night Live tried to joke about heroin, but there is nothing funny about this epidemic.

Copyright 2016 Scripps Media, Inc.

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.”

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? Continue reading “For Mandy”

Dear Mom, It’s not your fault.

Dear Mom

 

Dear Mom,

Breathe. The anxiety is better when you take in deep breaths and hold them. Count in 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4, out 1-2-3-4.

You didn’t do this. It’s on the corner, in his school, at that party where you first met the parents. It’s an evil little devil, that drug. Doesn’t matter its name. That sneaky chemical masqueraded as temporary escape, tricking your boy into trying something he had no idea would imprison him.

Hold you head up, Mom. You didn’t do this. I saw you bake those cupcakes, cheer him on at his games, go to his parent teacher conferences. I saw you meet parents before he stayed over, heard you talk to him on his cell phone when he was out, saw you checking his messages and even making him clean his room; yes, he should clean his room.

You did it right, Mom, and I salute you. But the fact is, there is someone more addictive than your love, more dangerous than your wrath when he misbehaves, more loving when he’s sad and confused. Continue reading “Dear Mom, It’s not your fault.”

The Winding Path to Heroin: Part I

IMG_2802Recently 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”

Dopeless Hope Fiend: A Recovering Addict’s Manifesto

hope dealerYou never had a problem with buying weed from me in junior high. You seemed to appreciate my proclivity for procuring high quality acid in high school. But when I started smoking meth during my senior year, you called me “a worthless tweeker.” When I missed the SATs because I partied too hard the night before the test, you pointed out how I failed more times than most have tried. When I sunk into a deep depression because my friends were walking out of my life, you said it was because I wasn’t “ever going to amount to anything.” It still hurts that you wrote me off because you thought I’d never get clean. I internalized your beliefs about me. I could never shoot, snort, or smoke enough dope to silence the memories of being shunned for having a disease. You looked down upon me from your socially acceptable, stable perch. You went away to a four-year university, and I set my sights on becoming a big fish in the drug dealing pond. You turned a blind eye as I sunk lower and lower into the grips of addiction. Strung out and suicidal, my disease had progressed to mainlining a mixture of heroin and cocaine. I had hoped that you would give me a call, or maybe even stop by my house to let me know that you still gave a crap about me, but you didn’t. After all, I am just a lowly drug addict. Continue reading “Dopeless Hope Fiend: A Recovering Addict’s Manifesto”

Relief – A Recovery Story

 

Cassie MugshotI had been addicted to Heroin for a while by the time I wound up in prison. It wasn’t like I planned it, nobody wants to waste a year of their life behind bars. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel relief my first night there. It wasn’t the first time I had felt relief this way. The first time I felt this kind of relief was the first time I used heroin, 2 years prior.

 The little girl I had been raising for several years was taken from me by her father. I was left with nothing, feeling broken and confused, helpless. My husband at the time was an addict. Strung out on heroin for years. I had given up hope of him ever quitting and by this time, I knew he was using and chose to ignore it. At least with me, I knew he was safe. Laying in my daughter’s bed crying my eyes out, I knew I would hurt forever. My husband would join in on my sorrow for a while, but eventually he would get up to ‘use’. I saw the way the drug changed him from a grief stricken man to a normal person going about his business. His tears would dry up and in their place came a desire to do normal habits like showering and eating. His transformation was intriguing. As I lay down, still in pain, he could take care of business, and I was still useless. Continue reading “Relief – A Recovery Story”