Today, I just hung up from talking to a friend who had attended a funeral for the son of her boss. He was 42 years old and had been an alcoholic and drug user for years. Countless times he had been into short rehabs stays, coming out dry, and only returning to his same neighborhood and friends, to open him up again to falling-back to using.
It’s not important to know his name or where he lives. There are too many fighting this disease, not just in your neighborhood or family, but worldwide; young, old, white, black, rich, poor, famous and an average person with no fame, married or single.
He had just gotten back with his ex-wife to start life over with their two children. She came home and found he had hung himself. Where do I find the correct words to explain the pain deep within families who have lost loved ones to this cruel and heartless demon? Only the ones who have lived through the fear, confusion, breakdowns, and abuse, know what I am talking about with this kind of tragedy. You can feel sad and sorry for families, but until, you walk in our shoes, you will not share in our emotions and stories.
This poor man who had been fighting to get his life back to normal must have felt hopeless, worthless, and gave up on ever living a life without a struggle with addiction. The news brought me right back tlosing Richie and Lori to their addiction.
They didn’t commit suicide like him, but everyone seems to have a different reason for turning to alcohol, drugs, or prescription pills to handle their problems. No one wants to come out of the closet and say, “I need help.” No one wants to bring up the past with some tragedy that happened in their life to only reopen it again with the pain, not knowing what did or didn’t happen to their young memories.
There are many catastrophes that happen to an alcoholic or drug user that maybe the parents, siblings, or friends can’t understand why the addicted can’t “get over” something in the past when something happens to them holding them back from getting on with their life without using.
To many struggle with a death of a parent or close friend, being forced into an abortion, being beaten by a child, listening to parents fight, seeing a parent or someone close to you coming home in blackouts causing the fear, confusion, and violence in the family behind closed doors can be devastating to the child who can’t defend themselves or find security within the family. They grow up with no feeling of love.
Remember how they were treated as a child in life or their teenage years. These events, mold them into what and who they become later in life. Not talking about the actions with substance abusers, only makes them do the same to their families and generation.
Richie and Lori died of cirrhosis of the liver. That is a horrible way to die. Richie and Lori had IV’s in both arms, swollen stomachs like pregnant women, their skin and whites to their eyes had turned yellow and their organs slowly shut down. Richie went into a coma and died after 3 weeks in the hospital, and Lori’s doctors from Charlton Memorial in Fall River did a procedure twice to tie tiny elastic bands around her veins in her esophagus. She also lived for three weeks, had a hemorrhage in her rectum, and went into a coma. She was put on life-support.
Two days later, we had to say goodbye and let her go home to God. I heard Lori take her first cry at birth and her last breath on this earth shutting down the life support machine. This is the hardest decision in this world is to let a loved one die by shutting this device off.
You always live with the fear that if you had waited a little longer, they might have come out of the coma. I wished God had taken her the three weeks earlier than to live on the hope that she would live, instead of shutting a machine off only to watch her heart rate slow down to a stop. It makes you feel like you ended her life. This is alcoholism.
I remember Dr. Phil’s remark to the woman on his show. “You realize you’re not going into rehabilitation for a day, week or a month. It’s until! There is the answer. Until you are dried-out, can make healthy decisions with your life, and face the deep-rooted problems that are eating away at you. Only then, you may have a chance for survival.
Who and what keeps the addicted active? I saw on television, a football player who had been an alcoholic and addict but recovered. His desire was to help young kids. He made a remark to them that made me stop what I was doing. “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future!” Think about it. When they get out of rehab, they run to the same friends doing the same abuse, at the same location. They meet with the same drug dealers.
Years ago, our kids were street smart. Today, we are not fact smart. Our education has to start at the grammar school level. Our children are not as innocent to things happening in their neighborhood as you think. In my book What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Drug Addict, two contributors admitted to trying their first drink at five years old and the other at seven.
This is why I believe we need a daily class on substance abuse with grammar age children. By that age, our sons and daughters are mixing in with others who are looking for ways to get their thrills and they look up to the older kids. Until they have an education these kids have no future if they continue and face death if they don’t stop. We have to show our children the facts about the high death-rate with alcohol and drug abuse. Doctors have to stop refilling pain pills. They don’t take a second glance at what might be going on with the patient. I blame them with the same actions that family do…doctors are great enablers. Filling prescription drugs over and over makes them as responsible with their death as the pill they are taking.
Health insurance companies have to make a change in today’s life covering the cost for long term recovery programs. They need to face the reality that substance abusers need at least a year or longer in a recovery program without coming out until their time is up with more professional help when they do. In my past life watching Richie and Lori, I came to the conclusion, it’s not counselors substance abusers need but psychiatrist.
Addicts have to take their own responsibility with the years of using. They have to get real with the fact, you can’t get dry and then return to the same friends who use or the same corner to get those drug. You have to have no doubt in your mind that this continued action is going to kill you. Not maybe, but when.
To the school systems and families, start today teaching our children about alcohol abuse and drug use. Do we need to put fear into them………..in my opinion, YES. It can save their life.
Author and Speaker, Alberta Sequeira