When did Charles become addicted?

Last family picture. December 2014
Last family picture. December 2014

I don’t really know for sure to be honest. I have tried to find out but those who have that information have not talked to me. So I’ve pieced this together given when his personality changed and I think he was addicted (a daily user) for about 6 months or as long as 9 months prior to his suicide.

You see Charles was so affectionate and would often come in my office to have heart to heart conversations. That started to change in the fall of 2014. We noticed Charles was overly perky a couple of times that summer. And he had the nods a couple of times which we didn’t know were indications of benzo or heroin use.

I don’t think he had become addicted yet

He started at John Tyler in the fall of 2014. Getting him enrolled was painful and I didn’t feel like he was engaged in the process. I remember going to the open house and he was so emotionally detached I went and cried in the library while he sat in the computer room with other students learning the online system.

I took him to the special education counselor at John Tyler. The guy was great. While Charles was highly intelligent, his ADHD and mental health issues inspired me to seek help and Charles was willing.

In one of our meetings, Charles left to go to the bathroom and the counselor looked at me and said, “Do you think he is going to make it?” I remember saying, “I am not sure but I don’t know what else to do.”

He meant ‘would he make it through school’ but my mind wondered if he was going to make it in life. He was far more emotionally fragile than other kids his age. Not at all street tough. What I call a Starbucks kid.

The elbow

In November 2014, I toppled off of a ladder in the garage, hit every shelf on the way down and landed on my elbow on concrete and crushed the bony tip into 13 pieces. It was extremely painful and I had to have surgery, ultimately got a double infection which put me back into the hospital for another surgery and another 5 days in the hospital.

Because Charles had totalled his car earlier, he borrowed his Dad’s truck, telling him he wanted to come see me in the hospital. He never came which was so unlike Charles. That’s when I knew for sure something was up. I am sure he took the car to get a fix of something.

I was crestfallen

By November, we took the advice of our counselor and told Charles he had to leave the house. The idea was he would have to go for 2 weeks, he’d couch surf and that would become uncomfortable enough that he might decide it was not worth it. Force the bottom so to speak.

To earn his way back into our home, he’d have to test negative for drug use. We were desperate to break his habit and it breaks my heart that this was happening during the holidays. Even harder now since they were the last ones we’d ever have with him. I don’t know if it limited or delayed his hardcore use. I don’t think he was using daily at this point.

Keep in mind, his depression was still untreated despite my making psychiatrist and psychologist appointments.

He tested negative for drug use in late December 2014 just in time to see his brother who was home from college for the holidays after we got back from North Carolina for Christmas. We all went and had dinner together and took the last family picture, a selfie with him in it.

They loved the Japanese steak house and it had been a wonderful family dinner. One of the best.

Taco Bell

In late January he got an interview at Taco Bell and ultimately got the job around January 1. We were thrilled although we worried that he might not be the best employee. He had a job!

We often wondered why his paycheck went so fast. So I think that by January 2015, he was a full fledged addict. I think having a paycheck fueled his drug use to the next level.

It just seemed like he was shaggier and more distant by then–a lot less engaged in the family. It had certainly wrapped his talons around him at that point.

He was stopped for a rolling stop in February and roughed up by the officer. I know they suspected him of drug use and wanted to bust him and it must have been a disappointment that he had nothing on him. But the assault was humiliating. The incident started a major downward spiral he never pulled out of.

His depression, anxiety, sleep disorder and heroin use was out of control

We didn’t know about the heroin use. He was not a shooter but a snorter so there was no paraphernalia.  If only I had been able to read more of his music.

We would plug up one hole and 5 more would start to leak as I watched my child self destruct on multiple levels. At that time, I thought I would never feel as much despair and loneliness as I did then.

I was wrong.

I knew my son was at high risk for death. His suicide, however, was a complete and utter shock. I watched him slowly become undone but I could not stop it and I didn’t recognize the signs of suicide.

I realize now, that control was never in my hands in the first place.

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Heroin writes me a letter back

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Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

3 thoughts on “When did Charles become addicted?”

  1. Anne..u said it so perfectly at the end..u were never in control…very hard for those of us,watching our children spiralling out of control…i have said the 3 C’s in my head over and over and over…hugs

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