Before he died from heroin on May 31, 2014, I would often refer to my son Anthony as “a work in progress.”
He could be mean, rude and selfish. But he could also be generous, kind and loving. And he was working on becoming more of the latter and less of the former.
He just needed more time to get there.
He had serious anger management issues. He would often fly into a rage when he didn’t get his way, but he would always apologize for his outburst later. And he was learning to control his outbursts and was working on being more patient.
He just needed more time to get there.
He had a substance abuse problem. It didn’t define him, but it dominated the last six of his 24 years of life. He would get clean and then the siren call of heroin would lure him back one more time. He was learning what he needed to do to stay clean and he was getting closer to recovery.
He just needed more time to get there.
Tragically, he didn’t get that time. He went back to heroin one time too many and it killed him. Continue reading “AN UNFINISHED MASTERPIECE”
The below letter was posted as a response to my article I raised and addict – what could I have done differently? – the author, Stephen Gambale, has graciously allowed me to share his beautiful words. Thank you Stephen. ~ Trish
I want you to rest assured that you were the best parent a son could ever ask for. I’m sure a million questions swirl around in that beautiful mind of yours on a daily basis. What could’ve been done differently? What you should’ve done? Would’ve done? Could’ve done? The answer is quite simple – you did your best. And as your son, I am forever grateful for that every single day I put my two feet on the ground.
Did you not teach me right from wrong? Did you not teach me the lessons I needed to be taught when you caught me from “falling”? Did you not console me when I needed consoling? Did you not teach me selflessness through your actions? It is a maternal instinct to love and protect your child. That is your best conscious decision making, and it is made through LOVE. What I did was made a conscious decision to ignore everything you taught me through action and word, use my ego to lie to myself that I know best and put my comfort at the forefront, disregarding the sacrifices you made for me growing up. Why? Because I’m selfish.
There is nothing you could have done differently that could have gotten me out of my OWN way. Continue reading “Dear Mom: A Response to ‘I raised an addict – what could I have done differently?’”
There isn’t a heroin epidemic. Heroin isn’t the problem. It’s been around for a long time – healing sadness, addicting the brain, causing shitty withdrawal symptoms, shutting down the body, and making pain go away in the body and the mind. Heroin sits in a bag on a coffee table. It’s the mind that shoots it up. Continue reading “Heroin addiction is a thinking problem, a thinking epidemic. I needed to feel safe enough to think sober might work.”
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.”
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”
It has been a very interesting month. Since my first post I have connected with old high school friends who have active or recovering addicts in their families. I have been contacted by people who are living the nightmare of Addiction as parents, spouses, children and friends of addicts as well as addicts themselves. Many have shared powerful stories of recovery. I have written or spoken the words ‘I am sorry for your loss’ too many times to count, though we really do need to keep counting… Every person we lose leaves a gaping hole in the world. That hole will swallow us all if the tide is not turned.
I did not intend to start a blog, and I am a bit unsure of where to take it from here. I am, after all, just the Mom of a recovering addict who posted a bit of a hissy fit to her Facebook after learning of another senseless death. I don’t think I can keep tossing out hissy fits, it would get old pretty quickly. I have decided that I will post when something is swirling around in my head enough to make me sit down and write about it, since that’s what happened the first time. It may be a few things in a short amount of time, followed by a lull. We’ll just have to see where this blog leads me.
This is a new journey and I’m glad for the company of all who would like to walk this path with me. We have certainly walked it alone for far too long.
Today’s thought: What could I have done differently? Continue reading “I raised an addict – what could I have done differently?”
The response to Stop the Silence has been staggering. The speed at which it was shared speaks to the size of the Epidemic of Addiction slithering through our neighborhoods and stealing our loved ones.
Many have asked how they can help, others have asked how to get help. Much needs to change for the tide of Addiction to turn. Gloucester MA is at the front of the charge. They have created an Angel Program to help addicts instead of jailing them.
We must admit this Epidemic is hiding in our communities. We need to recognize that families from all walks of life are re-enacting the same play behind different doors in cities, suburbs and small towns alike. We plead, sob, and scream to our addicts and to each other from a battle-worn script as we live our shared nightmare. Addiction is stealing the future of so many and decimating the lives of everyone who loves them. We need to step out from behind the doors and come together to help one another.
What if… everyone who chooses to Speak the Truth posted their own stories on their personal Facebook pages? What if… recovering addicts started a Facebook page or group for their individual town, school campus or community? The page could be a way for those who want to Stop the Silence to connect and Start the Conversation. Instead of family members and addicts suffering in silence, they could connect with someone in their own town or neighborhood. Local resources could be posted. What if… more people began to understand how insidious this epidemic has become? What if… Addiction finally emerged from the shadows of its stigma and the nation put its might toward solving the #1 health crisis in America today?
The words I posted on this blog and shared on my personal Facebook page have been viewed over a quarter of a million times since June 4. My post was circulated one share at time. What if… we can each help turn the tide of Addiction one share at a time?
Your Words have Power.
Stop the Silence.
Speak your Story.
Save a Life.
One Share at a Time.
One Day at a Time.
I am posting a new page with links to local resources. This is a sampling of established community programs created to help addicts begin the daunting process of finding their way out of the Abyss. Post your stories, create a facebook page, share resources in your community and reach out to groups in your area. Add your voice to the Conversation! Together we can Stop the Silence!
I posted my thoughts about the Heroin Epidemic into this blog site last week. I had written the article for myself. When I sent it to my son he encouraged me to post it.
We Came out of the Silence together.
Our intent was to share with friends, family and a hometown mourning the loss of a young man we knew when he was a boy. The town was jolted by three overdoses last week alone, two resulting in death. The third was able to be saved with the use of Narcan.
Continue reading “Out of the Silence and into the Light.”