Monday, August 06, 2007
Addiction claims another innocent life
Last month, my husband's grandson, Jonathan, killed himself. He didn't use a gun or a rope. He didn't take a bunch of pills. He sat down on a motel bed, rolled up his sleeve and injected himself with not just one, but two lethal drugs. Passers-by noticed him convulsing in the room. He had left the shades open. He wanted to be found. By the time they busted down the door, Jonathan was brain dead. He was rushed to the ER. His mother sped to the hospital to see him, but he never woke up. She was forced to make a decision. Keep him "alive" with tubes and machines or let him go. She chose the latter.
No one should have to bury a child. But every day, parents, loved ones and friends, attend funerals for the very young. Some die because of car crashes. Other lives are cut short by diseases. But many, too many children die from drugs.
Jonathan was 20 years old. In his early days of high school he was a good student, a star athlete (colleges were talking to him about playing football) and a real personality. Handsome, charming, charismatic, he had it all. When he sat down with a group of friends to smoke a little marijuana, he never thought he'd get hooked.
But there was something about Jonathan's personality that seemed to enjoy the high that drugs gave him. He went from marijuana to crystal meth. From there he moved to crack, then heroin. He got so hooked that he began to steal -- from stores, even from his mother. He eventually ended up in jail. Then he went to a halfway house, then to a rehab center. He'd try to stay clean but he'd eventually go back to the "stuff." He lived in parks, with friends, in the alleys of his neighborhood. His mother tried to get him help. He was on a roller coaster through hell and she was being dragged along for the ride. She talked to the legal system, the police, even drug experts asking for their advice. No matter what help she gave him, it just never seemed to work. His situation seemed hopeless.
This story is tragic enough, but here's the twist. Jonathan actually got clean. Back in December, after he served his longest jail term, he decided he was never going back. He got a good job, met a nice girl, went to live with his mom and started taking courses at the local community college. He was on the right track.
But drugs are everywhere, and they found Jonathan again in early July. From there the story gets cloudy. But his mother knew he was using again. She argued with him and he ended up at his girlfriend's home. On July 11, he left a note, drove to a hotel and shot up lethal doses of cocaine and heroin. He never saw his mother or his friends again. He died alone.
I can't tell you the grief that I feel for my stepdaughter. She is a single mom, a hard worker, devoted to her son. He was her only child. He was her world. Jonathan is gone now, and his mother lives with the emptiness and sorrow that only the death of a child can bring. I know she thinks about what she could have done, or what she didn't do. Everyone tells her it's not her fault, and it's not, but still she wonders. Many doctors will tell you that Jonathan had an addictive personality and that no matter what anyone did, drugs would have been in his life. He was a smart young man, he knew he was destroying himself. He just couldn't stop. Unfortunately, the drugs stopped him.
On the day of his funeral, his mother stood in front of a room filled with 300 people. As she thanked everyone for coming she spoke these final words of the service: "For the last four years, I have woken up in the morning, wondering if my son was safe. From now on, I'll wake up and know he's not suffering any more."
Do you know of someone who's addicted to drugs? Are there programs you know of that can help families of drug addicts? Let us know.
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