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  Addiction: A Mom’s Point Of View  
  March 13, 2014 Edition  
     I am a mother who watched my youngest son suffer from an opiate addiction until his death on Apr. 24, 2007. I am now watching my surviving son suffer from an opiate addiction. Like his brother, he too has come close to death, and he says he is trying to change that course. He says that he doesn’t want to die, so did my youngest son. But drugs kill.
      I am writing out of total frustration, grief, despair, helplessness...but not hopelessness. I am not sure what today will bring.
      My surviving son graduated from law school in 2006 and since his brother’s death he has struggled with an opiate addiction. He was out of treatment when two attorneys gave him a chance to rebuild his life. They allowed him to volunteer his time until an opportunity for employment was available, and they hired him.
      His work was labeled ‘exemplary,’ until late last year, in December, he showed up at work unkept, wet, screaming, had no socks and shoes on (it was 30 degrees that day) and was delirious. When the police arrived, they found several drugs in his pocket.
      I will never make excuses for him. I expect him to be the best version of himself and nothing less. As a mother, his medical conditions might be easier to treat then his addiction.
      After not hearing from him for a day in April of last year, I found him on the floor, blue, not breathing with blood around his head, and was told by paramedics that he was an hour from death. From there it was the year from hell.
      Many times I found him unable to move with blood on his face and head because of falling down the stairs or in the bathroom. On Dec. 23 when he was taken to Trumbull Memorial Hospital, I prayed so hard for a Christmas miracle because I knew he would never make it another week. I was grateful that he got a chance to live. All I could see was death in his future and frankly I wasn’t sure how I would handle burying the last of my children,
      My heart bleeds for all of them, these addicts, alcoholics, gamblers and the mentally ill, for I believe that they truly suffer from a disease that destroys their mind, body and spirit. My heart goes out to those who die without some foundation of trust and hope.
      My son showed up at work that day because he didn’t have enough insight and control to stop himself. He walked several miles to get to work in that condition ... no sleep, high on drugs, in physical pain and fear of losing a job that he probably didn’t even remember that he loved. He walked because he traded his car the day before for heroin.
      This heroin addiction is an epidemic that we must face as a nation, and particularly in our own community. My son would have never gone to work like that if he was clean. What coherent, rational man would show up for work with drugs in his pocket, unkept, screaming, outside on a 30-degree day with no shoes?
      It appears to be daily, that we are reading or hearing about how this opiate drug epidemic Is creates havoc in our lives ... we are losing too many of the people that we love and there are too many crimes being committed to support these addictions.
      There are too many of us who have these lost souls in our families. This is a story of what can happen when someone allows addiction to go untreated. My son was being challenged and he didn’t make the right choices.
      These men and women who live with an addiction learn that it shames them, humiliates them, destroys their relationships and jobs that they love and most importantly creates spiritual destruction in their lives. My son, Christopher who passed away from opiate addiction, referred to drugs ... as “the devil” that had a hold on him.
      Addicts/alcoholics need to know that there is a home, if they reach for it.
      The first Thanksgiving after my son Chris died, I volunteered at the Rescue Mission to feed the homeless. What I saw were many faces that reminded me of my son---middle America young men and women who once had a future until they became addicts/alcoholics. I fed them with total compassion, empathy, love and respect for their disease. I wondered if someone gave my son something hot to eat or drink when he was so scared and alone in the darkest days of his life. I hope so.
      We have a drug epidemic that is taking our children, spouses and people we love---look in their eyes when they are actively using---you won’t find them. We need to stand strong, work together, get educated and show some compassion. These men and women might look like the arm pit of society. I believe they didn’t choose to be addicted, they just aren’t choosing to seek treatment and work their programs, take meds that are recommended and talk to counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists who will look in their eyes, with every appointment, hoping to see some life again, bring back some hope for them. (Editor’s note: Too often, those seeking addiction treatment are just prescribed a bevy of drugs. These drugs feed the addictive process, and do not rehabilitate).
      My living son is embarking on yet another day of abstinence from drugs, taking the new medications he was prescribed and working his program with a sponsor. I keep reminding him to keep his chin up because this too shall pass---it’s a day at a time. We end everyday with I love you because after losing Chris, we both have learned that life can change forever in a blink of addiction.
      submitted by Marilyn Burns
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