In the media

Thanks to your sharing and help, we’ve reached a lot of people! I get messages, notes, letters from so many who saw a post on your wall and got help for a friend, recognized signs of mental illness, suicide and addiction. Others have gotten the inspiration to speak out based on the same sharing.

Not for one second do I think I’m doing this alone. And for the first time in my life, I feel support–support that I so craved while advocating for my son before he died by suicide. Support that feels good, powerful and effective.

This is just … Read more...

Overdose Grief Video

One of the readers here, Gina Hollenweger, posted this video on my Facebook page in response to post about refusing to bury my son’s memory.

None of our sons and daughters are immune to this epidemic.  They touch on so many of the emotions you can expect and it is worth watching. I will make it part of the grief page when I update it.

I refuse to bury my son’s memory

Read more...

10 things I learned at ‘Research to Recovery’

Katharine Hunter, DBHDS; Tom Bannard, COBE

Hosted by COBE and the VA Dept of Behavioral Health (DBHDS), this COBE Substance Use Disorder Conference focused on the science behind the disease. This post is inspired by Bill Maher, gentle interventionist, who asked me what I learned from the perspective of a mom who lost a child to addiction.

The conference was great and very informative. Here are my takeaways Well, some of them. Please add yours in the comments.

1. Drug users lives matter

These individuals are human beings, not throwaways. It’s someone’s son, brother, mother, sister, wife, husband, friend or cousin. They are … Read more...

The shame and humiliation of having an addicted child

Photo credit: Mike Church Show

When those in recovery reference the shame that comes with substance use disorder, I get it. Because as a mom, I got that treatment, too.

It was bad when my son suffered depression and anxiety attacks at school. But attitudes towards my family and Charles got much worse once drugs entered the picture.

I expected it from clueless neighbors and uneducated parents.

Surprisingly, the most belittling humiliation came from behavioral health specialists–people I was paying to educate me on what to do. Don’t get me wrong, there are some compassionate, awesome people in the field. But … Read more...

Heroin is a filthy rotten liar

Heroin told my son he was invincible and wouldn’t get addicted.

Heroin told Charles it was the answer to his pain, when in fact it made things worse.

Heroin told my son his problems were everyone else’s fault.

Heroin told him just one more hit and then he could stop, but it never let go.

Heroin told him he would feel first-hit euphoria all over again, even though he never did.

Heroin told him to lie, cheat and steal then convinced his brain that was OK when it wasn’t.

Heroin told him his loved ones abandoned him, when in fact it was the drug that made him abandon … Read more...

Thirty days is not enough

addiction research

For decades, insurance pays for 30 day stay for addiction recovery. If they don’t boot them out at 3 weeks.

But when it comes to addiction, science has proven it takes 18 months for the brain to rewire itself. And while I understand insurance won’t pay for that long, 4 weeks is just not enough to let anyone suffering from addiction to even get their footing. So why is 30 days still the standard?

Money for one.

Acceptance as addiction as an illness is another.

We’ve been in the war on drugs for over a decade now. The war we … Read more...

Undependable

When you have a child that suffers from depression and addiction, there are many times you have to drop everything and react to a crisis.

I tried to anticipate things but what ended up happening was never something I planned for. I’m not blaming Charles. Not everything that happened was his fault. And given pathetic resources, we were left to manage something we had no expertise in.

From changing his placement at a therapeutic boarding school because a counselor was accused of sexual misconduct, to a rolling stop that turned into a police assault to when we found out he was addicted.… Read more...

How heroin talked to Charles

chantilly

Charles described to me how heroin “talked” to him. He sort of acted out the conversation. It was riveting and unforgettable.

Once he told me this, I understood what was happening in his head. How seductive it was. How hard it was to escape. How it coaxed him into doing what he didn’t want to do. How the disease of addiction grips someone with that initial euphoria and then kicks them in the ass over and over until they’ll do anything to get out of it. And in Charles’ case, that was suicide.

Charles: I’m not going to take any Read more...

Covert spaces teens use to hide drugs

So where do kids hide drugs? I went to an event called “Hidden in Plain Sight: To Snoop or Not to Snoop.” It was GOOD!

A teenager’s bedroom is replicated to allow parents to “snoop” around to find indicators of drug use and hiding spots.

“The Teens Care Too” coalition is comprised of Hanover County high school students dedicated to educating their peers and parents about the dangers of substance use. A grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation helped fund the project.

Part of the presentation was entering a “bedroom” that the teens set up and you go in and … Read more...

Until it happens to you

commentDespite all the news media on the opiate epidemic, we still have to deal with the mindset you see illustrated in the comment above. Unless someone he loves drops dead in his lap, Mr. Harris will never understand.

We are so quick to pass judgement on others and we do nothing about anything until it directly affects us which has made us more reactive than proactive. Not only does this result in loss of life, but it costs us so much more from an economic standpoint.

Crisis intervention is 5 times more costly than prevention and early intervention with far … Read more...