Each week, I’m going to write parts of my book for readers to see if the interest is there in purchasing the book for a family member or themselves. Christmas would be a wonderful present. My Introduction to the book is about seven pages because it was what I saw and experienced losing both my husband, Richie, and my daughter, Lori. After the introduction, I will post some testimonies by the thirty-four contributors.
PART I of the Introduction
When tragedy hits our family, many of us could tell our life stories. I wrote about the painful loss of my husband, Richard Lopes of North Dighton, Massachusetts, in Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis. Richard died February 10, 1985, at forty-five years of age at the VA Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, after suffering from his alcohol addiction since his early teenage years, a family action that trickled down from one member to another.
At the time, he left behind two beautiful daughters, Debbie, twenty-one years old, and her sister, Lori, seventeen. Richard died eleven years after we had divorced so I never saw the daily physical and emotional effects on him, except for the final year before he had been admitted two times and the last would be the last time to the VA Hospital.
Tragedy struck again, when the demon, called alcoholism, returned and took my daughter, Lori. I published her story in the sequel Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism. Lori died November 22, 2006, at the age of thirty-nine at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts. She left behind a son, Joe Cahill, eighteen years old, and a daughter, Meagan Cahill, seventeen, of North Dighton, Massachusetts. My daughter Debbie and her husband Brian took Lori’s children into their home with their children, Michael and Kerri.
There are no words to describe the pain a parent feels when losing a child no matter what the circumstances were that caused his or her death. Substance abuse seems like such a useless death, when a family member can see that there is hope if their child would only reach out to the alcoholic rehabilitation centers and family members who are offering to work with their loved one in a recovery program.
The most devastating knowledge is realizing that no matter how much you love them, support them, pray for them, yell at them, threaten them or kick them out of the house, nothing will work until they want the help. It’s their battle.
What’s more shocking and fearful is the fact that if your loved one is over eighteen years of age and refuses to allow anyone to know what is going on behind closed doors in the recovery program there isn’t a thing you can do to get involved. You have no legal right to see health records, talk to a doctor about the treatment with the illness, or attend meetings with a counselor.
In Massachusetts, with Lori’s death in 2006, the Patient Privacy Act allowed alcoholics, addicts, and mental health patients to shut parents and siblings out of their complete health updates as to what was being offered to them in the substance abuse rehabilitation center. Lori enforced this same act with her family, including her children.
Our family didn’t have any knowledge that Lori had been an alcoholic or became bulimic until she was thirty-seven years old. When her declining health couldn’t be hidden any longer, Lori finally admitted that she had been told by her doctor that if she didn’t stop drinking, she’d be dead in two years or less because her liver would shut down. He wanted her to agree to be put on a liver transplant list as soon as possible. Again, she refused this action and forbade any of us to meet with her doctor to discuss this dangerous stage of her addiction.
While Lori had been a patient at Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, her doctor and health insurance company had filed legal papers for her to be admitted into an alcohol rehabilitation center in Florida for a long-term stay of ninety days or longer. Lori informed us two months after the fact that she had declined the offer. Had they informed family members what the medical team was trying to do for her, our family would have given her the support to enter into the recovery program. During this process, we were not informed that the counselor had determined that she needed deeper therapy to recover.
Lori hid many secrets, most notably her fears from the past, and refused to discuss them with her family or open up completely with her counselors. These were the reasons why I wanted to publish this book in order to learn what is and isn’t working for the alcoholic and addict in their recovery. Why do some alcoholics recover and others drink themselves to death? How can some give up their addiction without any treatment in a rehabilitation center and others need the help to survive? Because Lori wouldn’t talk to us, I wanted to know what the substance abusers felt. Could we have done something differently?
I feel that Lori’s three ten-day stays in detox and rehabilitation centers only pacified her alcoholic condition. The reality is that health insurance companies, substance abuse rehabilitation centers, and hospitals all know that the percentage is extremely high that the patients will return needing treatment over and over again. No one can clean out their bodies from the years of using alcohol and drugs in that short a period of treatment and develop a clear mind to make healthy decisions. At least a six-month long-term stay is needed without being able to leave. Making the change can help patients work toward a beginning recovery stage by clearing their minds of alcohol or drugs and enabling them to make strong and sound decisions to recover.
Part 2 to continue with the next writing.