My son Chuck had the biggest heart of anyone I know. He was silly and funny and loved life, especially his daughter. Drugs , addiction, changed who he was into someone I know he wasn’t proud of; he is loved and missed beyond belief.
My son Chuck had the biggest heart of anyone I know. He was silly and funny and loved life, especially his daughter. Drugs , addiction, changed who he was into someone I know he wasn’t proud of; he is loved and missed beyond belief.
Brittni was the oldest of 3 children. She left behind a sister and brother. She was a young lady full of love and life and laughter. She never met a stranger and wasn’t afraid of anything. She began her issues after being bullied at school by female classmates at age of 14. She started with the drinking and by time got into high school, well is a perpetual drug store. Kids selling their aderal and Xanax. In which she grew to try and take anything, and yes Xanax was her favorite.
She finished high school, was holding a job and even had moved out into her own place. She wasn’t like what ppl call a junkie, she functioned but when she was done in the evening, yes she liked to wind down and taking something was her thing. Unfortunately a drug called methadone which was prescribed and had to be monitored, which is no longer monitored, they get it and leave the clinic with it and it comes in pill and liquid formula. As we know of reports mixing drugs such as anxiety meds and pain killers can literally kill you.
Well after work one night my girl took a Xanax and her friends introduced her to this methadone, and needless to say it literally put her to sleep. She wasn’t planning on dying, her diary was planning a wedding in a years time, she was happy and she loved everyone. I was always afraid this would happen. She told us that night “don’t forget to get me in the morning to go to work” we dropped her off and that was the last time I saw that sweet girl of mine.
God how I miss her every day, we all do. I tried treatments and centers but they are so expensive to go to. She left us on May 11, 2012, just two weeks after she turned 22. Forever loved and missed.
I follow the news and media coverage of “overdose deaths” caused by heroin and prescription drugs. I utilize a number tools to bring a good deal of information across my desk.
Recently I read a blog post by NPR “It’s Proven To Save Lives, So Why Is Maine Opposed To Narcan?” 1 The article states
“Overdose deaths in Maine have come close to or exceeded the number of fatal traffic accidents in Maine. In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, there were 163, most involving opiates and a combination of other drugs.”
It goes on to report that
“Republican Gov. Paul LePage opposes a bill that would put Narcan in the hands of more first responders as well as relatives of addicts. LePage vetoed a similar measure last spring, saying it would provide a false sense of security to drug abusers.”
When one follows all the topic related data, it is clear that LePage is overlooking some glaring facts about permitting the availability of Narcan to the public he governs. I have to ask myself the question of why?
Narcan (naloxone’s trade name) is not a feel good drug. Narcan acts much like an epipen when someone is having an allergic reaction. It simply reverses the effect of overdose. Opiate
overdose is preventable.
Eliza Wheeler of Harm Reduction explained to me during a recent interview that most drug addicts don’t use drugs to overdose, most overdoses are accidental. Additionally, using naloxone on someone who is overdosing is not a very pleasant experience for them. It can feel like they have a very bad case of the flu. The facts are simple. Providing the availability of naloxone, provides the chance for another breath. A breath is another chance to recovery. (See full interview.)
The fact is we have acknowledged that addiction is an illness. It is in the DSM IV manual. There are several studies by very accomplished doctors who’ve written streams of content on what happens to the brain when it becomes addicted. It is not normal. Normalcy is lost. Thereby the logical decision making process is lost as well. Here are just two accounts from two of the many doctors who’ve written books and journals on the newer “science” of addiction.
“What you many not know is that in addiction, the shape, structure and function of your brain cells actually change in response to your experiences. Addiction is not just a chemical imbalance. Addiction is the result of many complex changes in the circuitry of the brain.” -Omar Manejwala, MD Cravings
“…their brains have been hijacked by the disease of addiction and their decision-making with respect to addictive behaviors is not consistently under their control…” -Omar Manejwala, MD Cravings
“It is actually no more a choice than your biochemical demand for insulin is a “choice” for a diabetic person.” -David Kipper, MD The Addiction Solution
“Make no mistake: Addiction is a disease –a clearly defined health problem that must be treated medically to ensure long-term success”. -David Kipper, MD The Addiction Solution
It appears that in addiction, the normal point is lost. The person, while may have had a choice to try a drug, once in the addicted state has an alterered brain. The brain is a powerful, an independent component of the human being that is programmed to survive. The drugs eventually become a survival requirement for the brain to function.
We have a preventative cure (naloxone) to prevent overdose, a current epidemic. Why would only a handful of states approve the distribution and education of naloxone? It has been around for 50 years. I have to ask myself the question, why have we ignored all of these medical facts? If addiction is identified in the DSM IV manual as a mental illness, then why do we continue to treat this illness based on some morale that we’ve created around drug use and drug addicts?
Going back to the NPR article, it goes on to state
“LePage proposed hiring 14 more drug agents and expanding drug courts. He did not address treatment.”
“We must hunt down the dealers and get them off the street,” he said. “We must protect our citizens from drug-related crimes and violence. We must save our babies from life-long suffering.”
When a famous person dies from this tragic disease called addiction, there are massive amounts of reports and conversation that occurs around these topics, however, many which are based on outdated data. Our belief systems have been programmed to believe that addiction is a choice and some sort of moral dilemma. Research shows that we have mistakenly overlooked the newer data that is available. This new data is not mainstream news. As a result, we continue to treat addicts with a bias –a stigma that makes them responsible for their illness.
“…state and federal forfeiture laws, police can seize and keep ill-gotten gains related to criminal activities, such as the money a buyer brings to purchase cocaine and the car driven to the deal.” 2
“During the Reagan administration, the government started incentivizing drug arrests by handing out grants to police departments fighting drug crimes. An arrest in a state like Wisconsin could bank a city or county an extra $153.” 3
So is LePage actually more interested in these government incentivized programs rather than truly helping the public he was voted to serve? I know the first time I read that there were incentives currently available for law enforcement to make drug arrests, it seemed to me like a certain conflict of interest.
Here is a a look at how this translates to money in one area of Florida…
There is one more important topic to mention when following the data trail as it relates to these subjects. America, while having only 5% of the world’s population has 25% of their population imprisoned. Has America gone to hell in a handbag? No, let’s just keep following the money.
Most people don’t know that 50% of our prisons have been privatized. Privatized prison is a huge industry making many tons of money. What’s worse is that we not only have industrialized prison, it is legal for these prisons to lease out prisoners. Convict leasing is legal. Privatized prisons can lease out prisoners from $0.95 cents to $2.95 cents per day.
To quote a article I once read… “Wells Fargo thinks that the private prison industry is a great idea.”
When I look at these facts together on one table, in one discussion, they collectively tell me a very different story about drugs, addiction and our current outdated legal agenda. It’s time to re-educate America and it’s people on drugs, addiction and the money trail. It’s a billion dollar industry. The true victims are the addicts and their families who are left desparate to help their loved ones.
Mr. LePage –oophs, to earn a title to govern people, you have to have the best interests of those people at the center of your focus. Please stop following the money and … please, please, please, help the moms of your state help their kids – let the naloxone bill pass.
I had the opportunity to talk with Eliza Wheeler from Harm Reduction Coalition about the conversation I never knew to have with my son Brendon, about naloxone.
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a drug that reverses overdose. Eliza is the manager of the DOPE Project (Drug Overdose Prevention Education) and she shared several insights on naloxone, it’s use in preventing overdose, and some of the laws surrounding it.
It is amazing to me how many younger people have lost multiple friends and loved ones to overdose. Eliza shared that part of her reason as to why she is involved with harm reduction is because of how many people she has personally lost to overdose. Overdose can be prevented and having a conversation is where it starts.
Eliza and I discussed the option of having a conversation about preventing overdose with someone who is struggling with addiction. I know the only thing I focused on when Brendon was alive was 100% absolute abstinence. There is an entirely different conversation surrounding addiction and addiction treatment, however, in the process of recovery to abstinence, naloxone would give people the opportunity to have yet another chance to try again.
When it is over, there are no second chances. I would rather have thousands of more chances. Hind site is fore site. The demands I put in place with Brendon were black and white -there was no middle ground. These demands (questionably unrealistic) set him up to hide the truths of his struggle. Perhaps if I had the conversation about overdose prevention, and empowered him to navigate the road of recovery, naloxone may have changed things drastically for us.
I encourage you to share this message with any one you may know. I can tell you, families struggling with these issues are not bringing these conversations readily into the forefront. There is so much shame and blame, and an unacceptable stigma when it comes to drugs. The truth is our kids are dying – and it is a pandemic. Sharing this message may save a life.
If you have had a conversation about overdose prevention with your loved one, please share what’s helped you. Your comments can help others.
I lost my beautiful and only son to heroin. He only struggled with this demon about 2 yrs. Sadly he had helped so many others with their addictions but could not help himself. Our lives are so much darker without his light.
Where do you begin to tell one’s story that was so full of life and vivacious since birth? Jason was so very talented in a lot of things. He spent his early years playing hockey on elite travel teams and was known to the hockey world as “Wild Thing”. No fear in his position as goalie. He won several awards in his position and loved all his team mates (especially the ones he would play locker room jokes on) and respected his coaches and the game itself. He was at one time sponsored by Rollerblade in extreme rollerblading and fit that in during the off season of hockey. He loved his family and friends, snowboarding, skateboarding and his dog, Harley Davidson.
We figured out that Jason was an addict when he was a senior in high school. He battled his addiction for several years. In and out of jail, rehab centers and meetings, he just could not walk away or control the urge for the drugs. Many, many times he would tell me that he hated being an addict. Between the felonies, jobs that weren’t available to him because of his record and just plainly feeling crappy when he wasn’t using, he lost hope in himself. As a mom, I watched and tried to do all I knew how to do to ease his life, his pain and keep him on the “right track”. I often times said that I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Each day you knew there would be a heartbreak of some sort to deal with. My favorite from people during this period of time was “why can’t he just quit”. The stress of just dealing with ignorant people on the subject of addiction was exhausting. No mother brings a child into this world and wishes for them to have this type of life. People don’t wish for their children to have diabetes, heart trouble or any sort of other illness, why would we wish for addiction. People need to be educated!!!
After high school Jason continued to spiral down in addiction. His criminal activity led him to spending some time in jail. Where he would spend his days reading and talking to God. These were times where he was depressed but yet had hope to get out and have a fruitful life. Never did he lose his sense of humor or his love for others. In fact, many times he talked to me about how grateful he was that I was there to help him. He told me many stories of people he had met that had no one. He always had a heart for the down and out type of person. It was not uncommon for him to give his sandwich away or even his shirt off his back to someone in need. He had a dream of a transitional housing facility of people coming out of the penal system. A place where they could get the support and life skills they needed to be successful out in the world.
As time when by, Jason lost his dad about a year before he passed. He was in jail at the time and it devistated him. I don’t think he ever knew how to deal with that loss. He got out of jail several months later and was employed and living with me. During the next few months, he started spiraling down again and panic set in with me. There were a lot of conversations about death; a lot of medical problems due to the addiction and then what I considered a “crazy period” just a few weeks before he died. His drug of choice was heroin. He was doing whatever he had to do in order to get either the heroin or the oxy’s. He told me many times that there was no way he could tell me what he did to obtain the drugs because it would break my heart. As if my heart wasn’t already shattered into tiny bits and pieces as I witnessed this hell for years. Anyway, the day before he died, he was very sick with withdrawals. You couldn’t even touch him to rub his back or touch his arm. That night, he came to me and told me that he was going to get a fix and that tomorrow he would find help. He had gotten news that his dad left him some money that was his if he would clean up and stay clean. He had a desire to open his own business and was very adamant that night that he would do this to honor his dad. The next day, before i went to work Jason was already planning out who to contact that day to get help. He called several places including his probation officer’s office. His PO was not in and the person covering told me that it was “tough” he’d have to wait until his PO got back at the end of the week to talk to him about getting into a bed. Jason had been promised by the PO that he would get him in right away. Evidently, this person didn’t see the need to facilitate the emergency of the situation. At that point, he started calling the hospitals and the suicide hotline anywhere he could find to see if someone, somewhere would help him get into a bed or the hospital to help him withdraw. Literally, no one would help. He reached dead ends everywhere either because he didn’t have the funds for private care or there was a waiting period of several days to weeks. Not conducive to someone who is in an emergency situation. There were many frantic text messages and phone calls back and forth between us that morning. At about 11:00 a.m. he called and started to ask me a questions but stopped. He told me he found what he was looking for. I asked him what it was and he stated an extension cord. Truthfully, I didn’t think much about it as I knew he was wanting to hook up a dvd player in his room and thought that was what he was doing. At that time, I told him that I was coming home at lunch time and we would get this worked out. About an hour later as I was leaving to catch the bus to go home he called again. He wasn’t upset like the call before. I told him I was on my way and would be home in about 20 minutes. He told me that he may not be there then and I figured that one of his friends was coming to get him or something. When I got home it was a cold, rainy, windy morning. Jason wasn’t at home so I just figured he was with his friends. I tried calling and it went to voicemail. During this time, I called the hospital and made arrangements to take him there and hopefully, they would admit him. After about 20 minutes I decided to go get him some cigarettes because I knew he was out. I told his dog, Harley, that we would go. For some reason, I decided to go to the garage to get a soda. Now, this may not sound odd to some but I rarely drink soda. Something was nudging me to the garage. Harley went out with me but absolutely would not go toward the garage. He started crying. I looked up and saw that Jason’s keys were in the door. As I pushed the door open I saw him hanging there. No mother should have to call 911, cut their son down and do CPR on them. No son or person should have to feel that hopeless because our system for help for addiction is so flawed. Jason’s presence is missed each and every day not just by me but by his brother, his aunts and uncles, his friends and all of us who knew him.
Thank you for letting me share. This was hard and I am now in tears. I miss him!
We lost Sal to an accidental overdose on September 23, 2010. Sal was not alone when he overdosed. Sal’s death could have been prevented if the person or persons that were using with him would have just called 911 for help – but they didn’t and my son was left alone to die, without the help he needed and deserved. No one should be afraid to save a life by calling 911, no matter what the circumstances are.
Sal, a Son, Brother and Father… Sal was born on April 11, 1984, two months premature. As my sister-in-law stated after his passing “he came into this world early and left early.” Sal was an absolute beautiful child with a heart of gold. Sal was truly an old soul.” If you met Sal once, you were his friend forever.
These next few words are borrowed from Sal’s brother Vincent. “There were so many layers to Sal. At his very core, he was fiercely loyal, loving, sensitive, and moral. To coax a real smile from Sal was the greatest victory, but how beautiful it was!! Sal touched so many people during his life. Anybody who had met Sal knew that you couldn’t do anything but love him”. Sal gave us one of the most precious gifts that anyone could give, his beautiful son. Baby Sal is a piece of his dad that will continue to shine his light and give his love to everyone around him, for the rest of his life.
Max was 6’2, 225lbs. Brown hair, blue eyes and a smile that would stop anyone in their tracks. Max was athletic. He started playing competitive baseball at just 10 years old, he was a high school football “stud” and strong as an ox. Max was an honor role student, extremely popular, charismatic, and if he loved you, you knew it.
He was all of those things.
And a drug addict.
Addiction is a progressive disease. His first rehab was when he was 16 years old…his second rehab at 18…his third at 19…
Somewhere Max was lost and drug Max took over.
At just 20 years old, and just 30 hours after he was released from a 90 day drug rehabilitation program Max was handed heroin by a “friend” and died.
Max was my only child. He died 9/7/11…and I miss him terribly. I have to assume that there is a reason I was left here and he was taken…maybe there is a reason we were all left here without our children. I search every day for reason in his death…
My son was much more than the disease he fought so hard to overcome..my son wanted to live.
The last day I shared with him was 8/8/11-his 20th birthday. After an amazing day together I had to leave him in Utah and head back to NV where I live. I began to cry…feeling guilty because this was the first year I hadn’t been able to bake him a cake and because I knew it would be several weeks before I was back in Utah for a visit.
He hugged me so tight and he said, “don’t cry mama, I will see you soon.”
I never saw my handsome, healthy, vibrant son again.
He died while I was making the 6 hour drive to Utah to bring him his things from home. He had just signed up for school and was living close to campus…preparing to snow board all winter, go to school and work on his sobriety with an outpatient program…
Handing a recovering drug addict drugs is criminal. It’s heinous…gross…and legal.
Through our pain I think it’s time to join together and focus the anger, the grief, the unexplainable empty ache and make sure our children didn’t die in vain.
No more parents should suffer.
Addiction is a disease. It’s not a choice.
My son did not choose to die. Faced with his drug of choice he simply couldn’t say no…
I miss him every second of every day. I don’t even know who I am without him.
I just keep waking up every day and trying to figure it out. Figure out what is left of my life without my son…figure out why I am here and that someone that shined as brightly as Max did is gone.
Somehow, someway, something has to be done…
The Brendon Project has planned a bench dedication ceremony, on May 25, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. The purpose of the ceremony is to acknowledge the one year date in which Brendon made his transition to spirit. The bench will be placed in his home town in the Waldwick Borough Park overlooking a pond. The bench will contain a plaque that reads
|“In Loving Celebration of|
|Brendon Michael Campos|
|3/7/89 – 5/25/12|
|& For All Those Lost to Addiction|
|The Brendon Project … A Project to Love”|
The memorial dedication could not have been accomplished without the assistance of Waldwick Mayor, Thomas Giordano. He was instrumental in coordinating with The Brendon Project and the town. Press releases and invitations are being sent out as well as digital notices to let others know about the dedication.
I will be speaking at the event sharing what I’ve learned about addiction. Brianna, Brendon’s sister will pay honor to her brother. Pastor Ray Muniz of Chirst Community Church will do the blessing and dedication of the bench.
The public is being invited to attend. It is my hope that we can reach out to others who have lost loved ones to this disease and honor those people as well.
My son Joshua Aaron his drug problems started back in 2003 , we had put him in and out of rehabs , he was constantly getting pulled over from the police for having a pipe with pot residue , one arrest he had cocaine residue in a straw, so it was as if the police were always watching him. He learned well in the rehabs but never applied it, because he had a disease, he once told me that he had two voices one his regular voice and one his drug voice, and that drug voice screamed at him and his voice was a whisper.
He actually was doing pretty good and in October 2010 he married a young lady that had two daughters. He always hated taking pills but since he could no longer smoke marijuana because of his arrest he was regularly tested, so his wife talked him into trying pills and he got addicted to them. He figured out what days he could do them and still pass his testing. Once he was out of control she left him, so he was in the middle of a divorce.
August of 2011 we had him cleaned up very good, than at the end of the month he started getting sick, he lost 30 lbs within 2 weeks, they finally put him in the hospital and discovered he had a hole in his stomach about 2 inches in diameter, we almost lost him then he was so sick. He came home to live with his father and I first of October. He so wanted to change his life from the fear of almost dying, he did very well . His body was not back to normal yet he had gained his weight back but not the muscle.
One of his drug buddies the whole month of November continued to text him wanting for him to come party. Josh ignored all of those text. On December 1st for some reason he went to this kids house. The kid gave him a few Xanax, and the next day his phone is full of texts trying to find more pills. He worked here where I do, and a lady from here sold him 60 pain pills and some Xanax.
I had talked to him before I left work that day, he looked good had told me he moved all his things back to his place and even got his Christmas tree up. That night after work, he went to his friends house they indulged in the pills and he never woke up. The next morning they found him at 8 am but decided to get rid of all the pills before calling us at 9 am before they even called the police.
He was 13 days from a divorce. We had never buried anyone, so we had no clue how it all worked, and the funeral home never even mentioned life insurance. They only told us we had 30 days to pay for it. So we refinanced our house in order to do so. We had to have his now widow to sign a sheet simply stating we could plan the funeral, nothing about finances. Afterwards we found out he had $82,000 in life insurance but had never changed it from his wife’s name. Because we had already paid for the funeral, the insurance company gave his wife the money. She would not pay us back for the funeral , she basically took off with the money and will not speak to us, legally there is nothing we can do.
I want to let everyone know that it is a rule of thumb that the insurance company will first check with the IRS if they owe any money than check what payment there is on the funeral before letting the money loose. So please if you are ever in a situation like this ask questions!!!!!
My son had a disease yes but he was the most kindest person you will ever meet. The kind that would help the older ladies in their neighborhood with their groceries or anything they needed. He had a smile that would light up the room, but he was sick with a disease and after spending $20,000 dollars on rehabs, we could no longer afford to do that, and any counseling you found at a low cost didn’t help, because the people in there were court ordered to be there. So there is no help out there. I want to fight this war against drugs. Our country needs to fight against this war instead of fighting for other countries problems. I hope my story can at least give some insight in some way that will help someone <3 I miss him everyday, every minute of the day <3