I cannot believe an entire year has past since that dreadful day when the police knocked on my door to tell me that my son was in the hospital in Idaho and it was serious. Within moments I was on the phone with the hospital and family and all I remember is hearing, Justin overdosed on morphine and they were not sure that he would “make it” and I needed to get there asap.
The next thing I remember is this blood curdling, gut wrenching scream that came from deep inside me. I began screaming and pleading with God to keep my son alive. It was the most horrific feeling in the world, I had to get to Idaho to be with my son…do I fly? Do I drive? My mom and step dad dropped everything and came and picked me and my son Tyler up and we started driving. I don’t remember the drive, all I remember is praying, pleading, begging for my son to be alive when I got there.
When we arrived at the hospital, this is what I saw:
When I saw my first born son, my baby, my everything lying there in that bed unconscious, unable to breathe on his own, I think I died a little inside. I wanted to switch places with him, in fact, I would have given anything to be able to be there laying in that bed instead of him. How did this happen? My little boy is laying here on life support from a drug overdose and pneumonia…was this my life?
I had sent Justin to live with my brother in Idaho in an attempt to get him clean, he had been abusing drugs for several years (opiates mostly) and my other son, my parents and I had been through the wringer trying to get him clean. We’d been lied to, stolen from, you name it, we’d been there. I even had my own son arrested in an attempt to save him from himself….that was the lowest day of my life until now. I thought that if he got away from his “druggie” friends, he’d be okay. My brother lived out in the middle of nowhere so surely he’d be safe there right? WRONG! When a drug addict wants drugs, they will find them anywhere!
I knew Justin had been sick with a cold/flu but I didn’t know how bad, apparently he had pneumonia and when he took the morphine pills he took too many and he stopped breathing. The nurse said he was clinically dead for over 5 minutes in the ambulance and they did everything they could and finally got him back. Now we had to worry about brain damage….apparently if you are not breathing for more than five minutes your chances of brain damage increase significantly. At that point I didn’t care about brain damage I just wanted my boy to live. (I cared but it paled in comparison to having him alive).
They had him on high doses of some drug to keep him calm until he can recover from the trauma he had experienced, they called it septic shock (?)., I believe it was that drug that Michael Jackson overdosed and died from and can’t remember the name of it. When they decided to lower the dose and get Justin conscious he was not himself. He was mean, combative and acting like well, an animal. They had to restrain him with cuffs to the bed because he kept trying to pull his breathing tube out. The look on his face and in his eyes was NOT MY SON….I saw something that I hope to never see again in my lifetime when I looked into his eyes but I wont’ go there right now….
Justin did recover and although he had some bumps and bruises along the way, we chose to do a suboxone treatment program to help him wean off of the opiates. It was very expensive and had horrible side effects (lots of vomiting and shakes, etc), but my parents paid for it (thank GOD for loving grandparents because I never could have afforded it) and at that point, I believe in my heart that Justin would have died if not for the suboxone. It replaced his drug of choice (opiates) long enough to get him clean.
One year later I am living with a sweet, caring, funny and healthy young man of 20 who is working on rebuilding his life. We are closer than ever and he is my best friend. He is a better son, brother, grandson, friend and person than ever before and I couldn’t be prouder of him. He is still in intensive outpatient treatment and attends AA/NA meetings (not by choice, AA is not for everyone and doesn’t work for him but he has to go because he is court ordered to), but he is choosing to stay clean each and every day. Here is a picture of Justin now.
I just want to say to anyone who is dealing with a drug addiction or has a loved one who is an addict…I had given up hope, our story is long and twisted, I just gave you a brief look at one instance in this post, but believe me, we went through hell for YEARS of my son’s addiction and I really didn’t think my son was going to live to see his next birthday. I can truly tell you that THERE IS HOPE for everyone. We went against everyone’s advice and put him on the suboxone program because we felt it was the only thing that would save him and I can tell you now that I am so thankful that we were able to do that. I’m glad we didn’t listen to the drug counselors and everyone else who told us not to go that route. I would have done ANYTHING to save my son, in fact I have! Don’t give up hope, keep trying, reach out to everyone, look for alternative treatments if AA doesn’t work for your addict. Hang in there and just don’t give up hope and most of all, if you have a faith, PRAY!
Thanks be to God for saving my son, and a huge thank you to my parents who have supported us all along the way no matter what it cost them emotionally, physically and financially and thank you to everyone who has reached out and tried to help Justin and my family including my online friends who prayed hard for him during the worst of times. It will always be a “day at a time” thing but today, things are looking AWESOME!