By Jason's mom, Debbie
On December 23, 2015 my world changed forever. Our 29 year old son, Jason, died in our home of a heroin overdose. I now see the world through a veil of tears and struggle to find my footing each day when I wake and realize Jason is no longer here. The several years of battling his addiction caused so much pain for him, as well as our family. He felt shame, remorse, failure and regret. We felt lost, horrified, let down, and confused by the American government and medical system. He was in and out of treatment, jail, IOP, NA meetings and a halfway house. Each week in Nar-Anon meetings, members would share frustration, pain and confusion as to why professionals just did not get what was needed to help our loved ones help themselves. As my co-workers slowly found out what was going on, they couldn’t believe that my child was battling addiction.
Jason was an electrician for the Board of Education for eight years, and was preparing to get his Master’s license. He was an animal lover, played Xbox, loved fishing, enjoyed music, reading a good book, and building with Mega Legos. Jason would regularly tell us he loved us. However, Jason is the product of a family tree that has strong inherited addictive genes and mental illness - many of those struggling with addiction suffer with dual diagnosis, and this resulted in Jason’s demise.
Jason was never allowed enough time in any treatment facility for recovery to take hold. Losing his job meant losing his medical insurance. There is no in-patient treatment that covers beyond two weeks with just Medicaid. After two weeks of treatment, Jason came out clean, but not skilled, not yet strong enough, not able to keep the disease at bay. He was then sent into a halfway house that had no accountability for any of its clients. Sober living communities are the most recommended “next step” once being released from rehab, but the success rate is only 20%. Studies need to be done to find the strengths and weaknesses using unique client experiences in these homes as well as find the valuable lessons and inherent challenges.
I hope others will join me in demanding the resources needed for those struggling with this terrible disease. Do not forget about Jason’s story, until one day you are forced to remember me when this happens to your loved one or someone you know. Don’t let it be too late for someone else. My son’s battle is over, but mine is not.
Our son tried, God how he tried. Jason wanted to be drug free; a simple man living a simple life. Jason was a part of the Anne Arundel County Maryland Adult Drug Court Program. Once-a-month hearings with the judge and once-a week-case manager meetings isn’t enough for some of those struggling with addiction to be successful. They need to be in a lengthy in-patient environment learning the tools and habits to survive this disease, then sent onto a well-run halfway house adhering to regulations.
I can’t stop thinking about Jason; loving him, missing him, and needing him in our lives. Jason was a treasure to us. I can’t dwell on all that we went through during his addiction, it was horrendous, frustrating, and tiring for everyone. He was our beloved child. He was a good person and son. He needed help; he asked for it but was only granted snippets of hope that would never lead to solid recovery. Individuals struggling with addiction are our children, spouses, our family. My husband and I will share sorrow in knowing that even if a glimpse of happiness comes our way, our son will never share it with us. We will keep our faith, knowing that our child is at peace, the turmoil gone, not worrying anymore, not pacing the floor all night, and not fighting a disease that won’t let go. We know that we will see him again, but right now we’re living through a tragedy and the pain is nearly unbearable.
We are only asking that some serious thought and involvement be given this issue that plagues America. We have lost our son to the epidemic that everyone knows about, but until it affects them personally, answers to questions, that for some reason aren’t being asked, are simply forgotten. The questions must be discussed, the answers sought and true help arranged and promoted for the disease of addiction. We’re willing to help those we know are out there adrift, won’t you add your expertise to this necessary quest before one more is lost to us?