Reflections on Loss to Substance Use

Every time I hear of a loss to substance use, my heart breaks a little more. Another family shattered. Forever grieving the loss of dreams and celebrations.

It brings me back to that moment in the ICU and still in shock, I looked at the social worker with a little indignation, “Did I want thumb prints of son?” “Thumbprints to bring to family events in the future “ she said.  NO …I mean “Yes I’ll take the thumbprints” but, NO!! I want my son to be there at these “Graduations and Weddings” of the future. What the h** is a set of ceramics going to do for me, no..thank you. I want Sean there, happy, sober and healthy. Happy, joyous and free-just what the I thought rehab promised (and it does happen for many people).

Families suffer not just the loss of their child but, the stigma surrounding substance use compounds the loss. For many of us, the loss comes after suffering in silence for many years.

Sadly, that is the reality that I experienced, just 5 years ago. We haven’t made much progress. It’s not like a cancer death.

Don’t misunderstand, I know if someone with cancer were told they could survive if they didn’t drink alcohol or take oxy they would absolutely stick to the prescribed regimen. I have every wish for people to live cancer free.  Substance use messes with your brain. It’s the brain disease that wants you to die, to fight everyday against your own self.  “You don’t deserve to live” “You’re just a bad egg” all words Sean told me about himself.

People with substance use fight every day to get healthy, it’s a momentous battle. Sean cried just days before he died “It’s just so hard, Mom” with tears streaming down his face. I tried to take him to treatment that Thursday. He didn’t want to miss work, he didn’t want to let his coworkers down. He was dead 5 days later. Fighting a battle no one could see.

There is family help available. I recommend Team Sharing, if you have lost a child who struggled with substance use.

If you have a child struggling, think about Magnolia Addiction Support.

Author: for-kindness

Sean Blake, our son was 27 when he died from an accidental overdose. Sean was for kindness. Writings, poems, and posts to keep his spirit alive. We share posts to remember Sean, advocate for better treatment for mental health. We share our journey through life after his death for parents of loss.

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