Sunday, July 20, 2008

Plentiful Pills

What I would like to know is where are all these prescription drugs coming from that our kids are popping, sniffing and injecting? Upon learning my son had an addiction to pain pills this was a question that haunted me. According to him, every kid he was hanging out with was sniffing pills and they were buying pills from dealers "right down the street". As luck would have it, we had settled into a very quiet, very nice middle class neighborhood, so it was beyond my comprehension that there were 'dealers down the street'. Oh, how wrong I was. So where were the dealers getting them? Pharmacy break-ins? I was pissed. My son is addicted to prescription pain pills and I wanted to know where these damn pills were coming from.

First there is the obvious....illegal smuggling and drug trafficking.......United States Border Patrol are seizing massive amounts of illegal drugs all the time? Our borders are being patrolled, even random traffic stops produce large amounts of illegal drugs on occasion. But what about Internet prescription drug sales? This article was a jaw dropper...

Recently I discovered a couple of other ways that prescription drugs may be getting into the hands of our children... these situations were actually experienced first hand.

The scenario:
Grandma has a prescription of morphine and other pain meds due to a number of ailments and old age to boot. My grandmother has a stash of morphine that would kill 20 elephants........ These pills have been flowing freely to her residence via FedEx. She does not even take half of what is prescribed but still they come like clockwork. When we informed the doctors and hospice nurses that she was not taking them all we assumed they would take them back and dispose of them right?.....Wrong!....Their 'policy' would not allow them to take these meds back so they told us to 'just dispose of them ourselves'. Being that I am going through what I am going through, I felt like punching this nurse in the face... You MUST be kidding me!

Another true story:
Robby had his wisdom teeth pulled on a a prescription of 15 percocets to fill. By Monday morning he was out.... unbeknownst to me he called the doc and easily had it re-filled .... no questions asked. It was that Thursday night when I had him in the ER with severe withdrawal. I did not turn in the doctor, but I should have. How many doc's do this?

And then there is the good old Doctor/Pharmacutical relationship. Pushing meds is a win/win situation for both parties.....It is disgusting! It makes me want to vomit. Are their kids addicted yet? Another article that pisses me off.

In 2007 doctors filled more than 45 million prescriptions for an antipsychotic, according to IMS Health. Yet there are only 2.4 million schizophrenic patients (for whom the drugs were originally intended), according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

And that’s just the overprescription of one pill!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is Addiction Genetic?

There is much to be said about whether or not addiction is genetic, hereditary, a lack of will power or all of the above....

So much in fact that it is hard to know where to start. The scientific research behind the study of addiction is overwhelming. Some studies show that it is very much a genetic trait. Others state that environment plays a large role in addiction. Still others say that carrying your addictive fathers gene does not shape your destiny and that it is a choice.

Since this subject is so controversial, I'd rather not even attempt to relay to anyone ALL the clinically studies that I have read, re-read and absorbed into my wee 3 lb brain. From one to the next, the conclusions contradict one another... There is research that shows YES.. that it is in fact hereditary... then there is more research challenging those findings. Why does one child have it when another does not...? Why does it skip generations and move on to the next?

I myself will always believe that is an overall a combination of many things....these are my feelings. I am not a scientist. I am still unsure, so why give my opinion.... I will leave that up to science.

So to wrap up this short post, lets just think of addiction in a new light... lets call it "dependency"
because whether or not your father or mother, grandmother or grandfather, aunt or uncle, is or is not...was or was not.... addicted to something.....someone we love is.... somehow they have become dependant on a drug. It has now wrapped itself around there brain and the battle has begun.

In the end does it really matter how you got there? You are there now. I am there now. I would rather spend my time working on a solution rather then to try and generate sympathy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Life is Beautiful Sixx A.M.

You can’t quit until you try
You can’t live until you die
You can’t learn to tell the truth
Until you learn to lie

You can’t breathe until you choke
You gotta laugh when you’re the joke
There’s nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive

Just open your eyes
Just open your eyes
And see that life is beautiful.
Will you swear on your life,
That no one will cry at my funeral?

I know some things that you don’t
I’ve done things that you won’t
There’s nothing like a trail of blood to find your way back home

I was waiting for my hearse
What came next was so much worse
It took a funeral to make me feel alive

Just open your eyes
Just open your eyes
And see that life is beautiful.
Will you swear on your life,
That no one will cry at my funeral?

Just open your eyes
Just open your eyes
And see that life is beautiful.
Will you swear on your life,
That no one will cry at my funeral?

Just open your eyes
Just open your eyes
And see that life is beautiful.
Will you swear on your life,
That no one will cry at my funeral?

Just open your eyes
Just open your eyes
And see that life is beautiful.
Will you swear on your life,
That no one will cry at my funeral?

Nikki Sixx "The Heroin Diaries"

Helping at-risk kids. "Saving the life of even one kid".

Nikki has established “Running Wild in the Night,” to raise funds to support Covenant House’s work in providing services to nearly 78,000 youth last year.

Every time Robby and I were in the car together, this song would come on the radio. Yes it is a popular song, but it became almost eerie. I almost would change the station because I did not like the 'crying at my funeral' part. My son seemed vulnerable... almost depressed at times. I finally said something to him one day about the song always being on the radio when we were together. He shrugged. I started to really listen to all the words and decided to look into it....what this song was about?

Science and Anatomy are not my Specialty!

Explaining the brain and the effects that opiates have on it has been a difficult task. It is easier to read and understand then it is to explain through writing.
I am certainly not the most intellectual person (not even close) I hope that I have given a fair and accurate explaination of what I have learned. As I posted before, there are many, many websites regarding addiction.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Opiod .v. Opiate

Brain Opioid: ( Endorphins; end-ogenous + m-orphin-e Enkephalin, Dynorphins) these are known as Neuropeptides. (Peptide molecules produced and released in the nervous system that act like transmitters)

Exercise, ("runners high") chocolate, laughing, hot peppers.... stress and pain. All of these things release endorphins (dopamine etc.).......attach to receptors, and determine our mood, pain threshold, and stress level. It is a natural brain function and biological process that brings a result. Again, each transmitter bonding only to certain receptors like "a specific key fitting a certain lock". Endorphins are also involved in respiration, nausea, vomiting, pain modulation, and hormonal regulation.

One of the most interesting facts I learned, is that this bond is always temporary. After the receptors receives the signal the chemical is recycled or destroyed.

The process of inactivation of the transmitter happens in one of three ways:
Reuptake: Reabsorbtion and recycling. This is a common way the action of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin is stopped...these neurotransmitters are removed from the synaptic cleft so they cannot bind to receptors.
Chemical Enzymes: Destruction of the neurotransmitter known as enzymatic degradation. A specific enzyme changes the structure of the neurotransmitter so that it is not recognized by the receptor
Diffusion: the neurotransmitter becoming detached from the receptor and drifts out of the synaptic cleft.

This is our bodies and our brains way of regulating these chemicals so they are never in contact with receptors long enough to form tolerance or dependency.

Opiate #2 Opium, Morphine etc

If we live on this planet, whether we ever did drugs or not, we already had an understanding that within seconds of sniffing, inhaling or injecting opiates (specifically) that this chemical travels directly to the brain through the bloodstream activating the brains 'reward circuits', immediately arousing intense pleasure, well being and euphoria.

I still can't be sure how many times someone has to repeat this activity to become addicted. I don't know if there are any sound statistics. Some say they were immediately addicted. Others I talked to said it took some time. Depending on the risk involved may be part of the answer. Say someone is taking pain pills for pain. Orally that is. It may take quite a long time for dependency to occur. With recreational use, you are going after the high. You seek it out and then go back for more of the same. I believe (and this is only my opinion) that there is a definite difference between a hereditary addiction and one that develops into a 'dependency'. Some may argue that but I have found that although the battle to 'quit' is just intense for both, the person who is not genetically predisposed to addiction may be more determined to quit and may not find themselves lying in a alleyway somewhere. Whatever the case, all addicts refer to themselves as addicts and do not believe it matters how they got there. Whether it is sooner or later, the outcome is always the same.

Opiate drugs work by mimicking natural opiate-like molecules made and used in the brain.

Once in the brain, the heroin is rapidly converted to morphine, which then activates and overstimulates opiate receptors causing greater amounts of dopamine to be released. Over time, addictive drugs alter the way in which the pleasure center, as well as other parts of the brain, functions. The way the cells communicate is changing. Changes to the synapse and shape of brain cells is inevitable. The brain will try to adapt, reducing the amount of dopamine released into the synapse. Over time a tolerance builds and cells grow so used to having abnormal amounts of the synthetic opiates around that they actually need these amounts to feel normal. Normal amounts are no longer adequate. Brain regions are now becoming 'hardwired". The drugs have taken over. If opiates are taken away from dependent nerve cells, these cells become overactive.

To decide to 'quit' is a very intense and lengthy battle. It will be impossible to stop now without going through severe withdrawal. It is a painfully long battle to fight. It will take time for the brain to go back to its original state. For most, it will be the battle of their lives. It will not go away easily. They are not only faced with the physical aspects of overcoming addiction, but also (and even more intense) is the mental and emotional fight. Of the three, the physical addiction is the easiest to overcome.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just Scratching the Surface

Is there any reason to learn the intricate design and function of our brains? If your studying to be a brain surgeon...yes. The rest of us?...... Well, we know we have a brain, we hope it is healthy and working properly. Unless faced with tragedy, like a brain injury (or addiction) most of us unknowingly take the human brain for granted. Sure, we all know how amazing and complex the brain is. We know our brains think and learn, they tell us to feel happy or sad. We also understand that when we touch something hot it is our brain that tells us to remove our finger quickly. It also tells us not to do it again.

I am no more the expert in brain function today than I was 2 years ago although I do have a much better understanding. Our brains are so complex and so completely awesome, it would be wrong of me to even try to explain in any great lengths. To be honest, I don't think I could without sounding like a complete idiot. So I decided that it was best to keep it as simple as I could, and even that was not easy.

Some day when you have a 'few weeks' with nothing to do, you may find it interesting to look into any of the many informative websites educating us on how our brains work. It is staggering information. I could not help but feel like part of my brain was bruised as I read and struggled through the intense information and details of the human brain.

Here is my humble attempt to relay to you only a fraction of what I read about basic brain anatomy and function.

This awesome organ, weighing in at a whopping three pounds, is likened to not just one, but 'millions of little computers' that come together as a whole, in perfect unison. It controls every single thing about us including, but not limited to, intelligence, memory, personality, emotion, speech, and ability to feel and move. Motor control, visual and auditory processing, voluntary and involuntary functions, thirst, appetite, sleep patterns, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, swallowing, digestion, and blinking. It enables us to interpret and respond to every single thing we experience.

The brain is divided into three basic units:
The forebrain is the largest and most developed part of the human brain. It consists primarily of the cerebrum, the source of intellectual activities. It holds your memories, allows you to think and plan, imagine, recognize people, read and play games. The cerebrum is split into two halves. The two cerebral hemispheres communicate with each other through a tract of nerve fibers. Each hemisphere has specific functions. The surface of each hemisphere is made up of grey matter known as the cerebral cortex and is responsible for thinking, perceiving, and producing and understanding language.
The midbrain controls some reflex actions and is part of the circuit involved in the control of eye movements and other voluntary movements
The hindbrain includes the upper part of the spinal cord, the brain stem and the cerebellum. It controls vital functions such as respiration and heart rate. The cerebellum coordinates movement and is involved in learned movements like playing a piano.

The inner brain, lies deep within the brain controlling your emotions and memories. This is known as the limbic system.The limbic system uses current situations and memories to generate your emotional responses particularly those associated with our survival. It is involved in many of our emotions and motivations, such as fear and anger. The limbic system also regulates feelings of pleasure. If something is pleasurable or rewarding, you want to do it again. This is also referred to as the Reward System. Limbic system structures called the amygdala and hippocampus are also involved in memory. One of the reasons that drugs of abuse can exert such powerful control over our behavior is that they act directly on the brainstem and limbic structures, which can override the cortex in controlling our behavior and eliminate the most human part of our brain from its role in controlling our behavior.

The central nervous system is divided into two parts: the brain and the spinal cord
The peripheral nervous system is divided into two major parts: the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. It allows our brains to communicate with the rest of our bodies by way of a very complicated highway system. Using the example of the hot stove, when our finger touches the heat, this sensation (or message) travels to our brain at a speeds up to 268 mph and tells us to pull our finger away.

The brain consists of about 100 billion cells called neurons. Each of the billions of neurons produce chemicals that trigger or "talk" to other neurons. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters that send messages from one nerve cell to another binding to receptors on the neuron receiving the message. The place where a signal passes from one neuron to another is called synapse.(Meaning to fasten together)When the transmitter hits the receptor, the receptor will change shape causing changes inside the nerve ending. This then sets off an electrical message onto the next brain cell. This sequence continues until the effect occurs.

The three major categories of substances that act as neurotransmitters are:
Amino Acids (primarily glutamic acid, GABA, aspartic acid and glycine) Amino Acids are the building blocks of proteins, the precursor to neurotransmitters and balance brain chemistry.
Peptides (vasopressin, somatostatin, neurotensin, and many more) Peptides are short polymers formed from the linking of amino acids in a defined order. The link between one amino acid residue and the next is known as an amide bond or a peptide bond.
Monoamines (norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, acetylcholine and others)
Serotonin is known as the "feel good" neurotransmitter. It plays an important role in the regulation of mood. Low levels of serotonin can cause excessive feelings of sadness and anxiety.
Dopamine and norepinephrine affects brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain. Controls heart and blood pressure, sleep, arousal and drive. When the brain does not produce enough dopamine or norepinephrine, you feel tired, unmotivated and foggy.

There are two kinds of neurotransmitters –
Excitatory transmitters stimulate the brain.
Inhibitory transmitters calm the brain and balance mood. They are easily depleted when the excitatory neurotransmitters are overactive.

Endorphins. A group of ten neurotransmitters that activate opiate receptors. Endorphins are composed of chains of amino acids. Since the discovery of the endorphins in 1975, scientists have theorized that these neurotransmitters are released when the body encounters stress. After a physical injury, endorphins activate opiate receptors and produce an analgesic effect, alleviating severe pain. During times of emotional stress, endorphins are released in the limbic system of the brain and produce a euphoria that lessens anxiety and melancholy The word endorphin comes from a combination of the word Endogenous, meaning 'growing within' and morphine.

In 1973, scientists discovered that the brain had receptors for opiates. (Places on neurons that recognize opiates). Two years later, scientists discovered the brain produced its own opiates known as "endorphins." Endorphins are always in the brain, but they are released in larger amounts when people are in pain or under stress. Each receptor recognized and only allow specific transmitters to bind to them similar to the way only 'one' key works in a specific lock.

Last but not least in this section, I found this next bit of information completely amazing:

By a process known as 're-uptake' (and others) our brains recycle and regulate normal levels of neurotransmitters by reabsorbing them once they have performed their function of transmitting the neural impulse.

Incredible stuff for something that only weighs 3 pounds..... and that my friends, is only scratching the surface.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Through the words of an Addict

The "tough love" forums that had been there for me in the beginning were not going to help me now. I had a bigger challenge, a life threatening challenge. My son was an addict, not an unruly teenager.

I turned to addiction sites and found myself begging for help from active addicts, struggling addicts and recovering addicts. These people I had once despised, I now turned to for help. Lack of knowledge had always led me to think that their actions were selfish ones, that they did not care about the pain and misery that they caused the people that loved them. But I was now ready to open my mind and understand addiction. I needed to know what motivated them to turn to drugs.

They asked me many questions about Robby, and one question in particular... "Is your son ready to quit?" They asked why he was not there talking to them. I told myself.....He was overwhelmed with his addiction, he did not know where to start, I had to help him. He wanted it, he really did. My answer to them.... he WAS ready to quit. He will be here soon, online, ready to get help.They warned me that this had to be Robby's choice..... not mine.

Pushing through their doubt ....I logged on every day. I needed to learn and understand everything. In the end the answer was always the same, (but not what I wanted to hear).. "You cant help him if he doesn't want the help."

Of course he wanted help....but then I would ask myself, did he even understand fully what he had done to himself? Did he believe he even had a problem? Was he ready to fight this battle? How could he believe it when I could barely except it?

I kept asking questions, refusing to believe their warnings. I was obsessed with finding answers that I wanted to hear. I lurked on many addiction forums reading tragic stories and joined others to tell my story. As the days and weeks passed, I found friends among these addicts. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, housewives and even a Congressman. Blue collar workers and white collar alike. Twenty year olds and fifty year olds. Some came from households with addictive parents and some did not. Others had started taking prescription pain killers due to an accident or illness. And still others turned to opiates as a recreational drug not knowing that it would eventually eat them alive. Each story was unique but eerily similar. Most had never thought for a moment that this would become a life long battle. They were people just like me who had jobs, families and very full lives. By the time they realized their lives were becoming unmanagable due to their addiction it was almost impossible to stop. They could not function without these pills now. Coddling their addictions, they continued to do whatever they could to get pills, convincing themselves they had legitimate pain or suffering. Some were filled with shame or embarrassment that kept them from seeking help from their family. Addiction kept them from thinking rationally always finding a reason why they still needed to take pills. Chasing pills was part of their lives until the inevitable day came when they were losing or had already lost everything...... their health, their families, their jobs, their lives were gone or hanging on by a thread before they knew it. These are some of the nicer stories.

All of these people had started using painkillers for one reason or another years ago. In some instances it had been half their lives and even after being ravaged by addiction were still fighting to stay sober. My fears grew as I listened to them. All of my previous thoughts and feelings started to dissolve away. There was 'no truth in labeling'. These were people who had wrestled with addiction.... got chewed up and spit out, defeated by drugs..... now they were haunted by years and years of drug abuse. They had been humbled along the way and now selflessly helping others get through it. It did not take me long to gain a new found respect for all of them. I will never know a stronger group of people than the recovering addict. There 'will to survive' is in a class of its own.

I 'watched' as literal strangers met and bonded in a matter of minutes. Rallying support from other members... staying close to one another, pulling each another through the weeks of retched physical and mental pain associated with withdrawal, all the while cheering each another on. Sometimes they would relapse, only to be encouraged to keep moving forward, pick themselves up and not look back. It was incredibly heart wrenching. I longed for my son to be there with me watching what he could do if he only wanted it bad enough. It was nauseating to think that this is what he had to look forward to. As painful as the reality of it was I was seeing these people were beating it..... and I knew he had a chance. It was a moving experience. One I will never let go of. One that opened my eyes yet again.

Still......they were ruthless in their belief that my son had to want to change and that I could not do it for him. I could not do anything for him but love him. Their words were painfully harsh. At times I was far from comforted.

I continued to challenged their 'expertise'.........and pressed on, learning as much as I could from them and any other source available to me. I was consumed. I was on a mission to save my son. I had always been there for him, and was not going to stop now. I would never give up.

But the questions would drive me insane.
"Why could he not just stop?"
"How could he not see how much he was hurting himself and JUST STOP!"
"Didn't he want a 'normal' life?

Their answers were always the same. "He was an addict, he cant stop unless he truly wants to." They kindly tried to reassure me that "it was not my fault". I had to let him take full responsiblity for his decisions now and back away from the situation. Their questions to me where always the same. "Where is Robby?" ...and "Why is he not here talking to us?"
Although some were more compassionate then others (or maybe they just started to feel sorry for me) it was as they had warned .....always the same dead end. "I could not force him to stop, I could not help him if he did not want the help". He not only had to want it, but want it bad enough to endure the unavoidable and painful struggle that was to come.

Through the words of the addict I had acquired knowledge that I never thought I would crave. I hung onto the belief that the more I could educate myself the more I could do to help Robby. Funny, but at this 'late date' I was listening to their words but still not hearing everything they said. Somehow I had contributed to this mess and it was now my 'job' to fix it.

When I was not talking with recovering addicts, I was scouring the Internet trying to understand addiction through science and medicine. What affect were opiates having on him mentally, physically and emotionally? What I was about to learn was both mind blowing and frightening.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This is your Brain on Opiates

"This is your brain..... This is your brain on drugs.....Any Questions?"

In 1987, Partenership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) launched this anti-narcotics campaign ad. I still remember, even years ago, frying your brain was making yourself slow and stupid, forgetful and dopey...... "Any Questions?"

I suddenly had a lot of questions. I discovered that unfortunately it is a little more complicated than a fried egg. The first time I heard what these opiates were doing to my son, I was sitting in a drug therapists office. The first 'regular' counselor had strongly suggested we seek a specialist in drug addiction. He had pissed me off knowing he was wrong about Robby.
But finally, feeling defeated and coming to the realization that maybe Robby did have a problem with drugs, I found one and made an appointment. (Was I still in denial up until that day?)
I sat there listening to the therapist explain to me what these "opiates" had been doing to Robby. It was so shocking, so sickening, and so hard to take in, the tears swelled in my eyes. I could not control them. Robby snickered at me.

He went on to tell me that all Robby's natural feelings, love happiness, pleasure, laughter, contentedness..... all these 'reward' receptors had been taken over by opiates and I had no other choice but to let it sink in. It really sank in as I looked over at my beautiful son through my tears....and he was rolling his eyeballs at me and smirking. This was not my son.

"He does not have the natural ability to feel these things on his own anymore" When he was not taking some form of opiate, for a day or maybe even a few hours, his brain was not able to produce these feelings without the aid of the drugs.

Not only did I learn that day that Robby's brain was not functioning properly, but I also had to understand that to come off them would most likely be a long and painful process. The withdrawal that I had seen that night was just a preview of what was ahead. And that was if he was willing to stop. He had to want to stop.

My heart was breaking like I never knew it could......But I was ready to do whatever it took to get him through this. I would now be going through my own necessary steps. It would be some time before I discovered this. The realization that I could not save Robby anymore was far from my thinking.

It was not a little boo boo,. It was not a lost football game.... and this was his life now. He was a young man and he was in charge. I would have no choice but to sit by and watch... and pray...and wait......

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Guilty as charged?

Six weeks after our blow up, Robby and I had our first cautious words. He had been living with his dad and it was killing me, knowing that he was there. His father was still an addict after all these years and I knew he would not do anything at all to discourage our son from the path he was taking.

We slowly started speaking again over the next couple of weeks and I asked him if we could go talk to a counselor again. This time we would see someone who specialized in drug therapy. Although Robby insisted it was me driving him crazy and not the drugs at all, he agreed to go. He told me I needed the help. As much as I wanted to defend myself, I would have done anything to 'fix us' If it was me then so be it. I could handle that if it would help him.

I know now that this is mostly typical of an addict, but at the time I was still questioning myself.

He blamed me for making him turn to drugs. He bashed everything I had done while raising him. Robby had so much bottled up inside, my heart was breaking for him. I racked my own brain looking for answers, feeling intense guilt. Had I screwed this kids life up so bad that to escape it he needed to pop pills? The first therapist that we saw tried to convince me that I was not having a conversation with a rational person and that of course he would look for someone to blame his behavior on. But my guilt over rode anything he said. I continued to blame myself for my son's bad choices. I went over it and over it in my mind. He convinced me that I had neglected him and never acted like a 'real' mom towards him.

I was devastated. The agony was crushing. Why had I been so lenient? Why didn't I make him do more chores? Why did I let him have so many things? I should have given more. Did I spoil him too much? Did I give him enough? We were always struggling with money, but I tried so hard to make life fun and happy for him. Should I have let him experience the tough times without hiding it from him? Were things too rough on him?

Oh My God..! the questions were endless and each one contradicted the next one.

Papaver somniferum

Papaver somniferum, the Opium Poppy, is one of the few species of Papaver that produces opium. The healing and euphoric effects of opium may have been known and date back as far as 4000 BC. It was referred to as "plant of joy".

In 1803 a German pharmacist named Friedrich Wilhelm Serturner isolated and described the principal alkaloid in opium and named it 'morphine' after Morpheus, the Greek God of dreams. Ironically poppies were used as a symbol of both sleep and death. Sleep because of the milky extract that induces sleep and brings serenity, death because of their blood red color. Myth has it that poppies were used as offerings to the dead and emblems on tombstones symbolizing eternal sleep.

In the United States, opium preparations became available in the 19th century and morphine was used as a painkiller for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. The result was opium addiction, and came to be known as “the army disease” or “soldier’s disease.” This prompted science to search for a potent but nonaddictive painkiller. In 1870 an opium based and supposedly nonaddictive substitute for morphine was developed. Bayer Pharmaceutical of Germany was the first to produce the new drug under the brand name "Heroin".

Studies soon showed heroin to have narcotic and addictive properties far exceeding those of morphine. Bayer marketed heroin as a cure for morphine addiction before it was discovered that heroin is rapidly metabolized into morphine, and as such, "heroin" was basically only a quicker acting form of morphine. The company was somewhat embarrassed by this new finding and it became a historical blunder for Bayer.The name was supposed to refer to the "heroic," fearless and painless, sensation users felt after using it.

Between 1850 and 1865 Chinese imigrants brought the habit of smoking opium to the United States. By 1887 the importation of opium was forbidden in the U.S. By 1906 27% of the Chinese population were addicted to opium. In January 1907 the Pure Food and Drug Act is passed, regulating the labelling of products... Opiates, Cocaine, Alcohol, etc..

In the United States Opium poppies were at one time grown as ornamental plants. Possession of the plant was declared illegal in 1942 by the Opium Poppy Control Act.

Today, Opium Poppy is grown legally on government regulated farms in India, Turkey and Australia. It is also illegally grown in Southwest Asia. It is also grown in Columbia, Mexico and Lebanon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Amateur Research

Even as a young adult, I did not know too much about drugs and the different effects that they have on a person. I was not surrounded with alcoholism or drug addiction when I was young, nobody in my family had any addictions. The occasional glass of wine or a beer was about it. I actually thought my ex-husbands family was so fun and so much different then mine. They always knew how to whoop it up.
In high school, I tried smoking weed and found it only made me feel stupid and sleepy. The occasional hit of speed in school, remained behind me. I tried cocaine once with my ex and knew it was not for me. I had no further desire to continue regularly with any of these things. I did not understand why people were addicts. Until it affected me and my life, I didn't even give it any thought.
After many turbulent years fighting a dead end battle, I realized Robby's dad was not going to ever stop abusing drugs, I never tried to find out why. I already assumed that I knew the answer. He was selfish. He did not care about anyone but himself.

I always half way had it in my mind, that Robby could possibly become an alcoholic or an addict. His fathers drug of choice was cocaine and crack. I don't think I knew that there was any other drugs that someone could get addicted to but those. My stupidity led me to believe that if I took him out of the 'environment' he would go on to lead a healthy fulfilling lifestyle. I was a fool to think a lot of love and a good home life would be all that it would take to shake that 'gene factor'.

After over a year of intense reading, researching, and talking with countless recovering addicts, I now understand how idiotic my thinking was. But when it all first catapulted into my lap, my lack of knowledge was frightening. Knowing my son's life may be at stake, the questions flooding my brain had to be answered.

Why was Robby doing this? What was the appeal? What was it about these pills that made them addictive? Why couldn't he just stop!? Why was he so hateful? What had made him change so drastically in the last year? Was it really these pills? Could they be making him crazy? It had happened so
gradually. Or had it? The past months flooded my mind... when did this get like this? He was so angry now. So hateful towards me. He had always been so loving and caring. Now he had absolutely no conscience, no motivation, no compassion for the pain he was causing me or himself. And he had no desire to change this behavior. Basically, he did not give a shit about anything. NOTHING but sniffing these pills.

Was it because of Oxy's? What the hell was my son doing taking Oxycontin? First he said it was perc's then it was oxy's. Were they the same thing? And where did the whole heroin overdose ten months prior fit in to all of this? That overdose should have been my wake up call but it wasn't. Why! why! why! did I not do something back then. How does heroin have anything to do with pain pills. Boy was I dumb. The hours passed as I searched the Internet. I started to learn about these powerful prescription pain pills and the number of people addicted to them was mind blowing. I felt so inadequate once again. I was so NOT educated in the field of prescription drugs.

The first thing I set out to do was find out what these prescription drugs were doing to my son. How he was getting 'high' from them. What was the appeal? I still only thought of these drugs as a painkiller yes, but one that just made you pass out cold. Take away your pain and make you sleep.

Percocets....Oxycontin.....Roxy's.....morphine.....opiates.....the poppy plant.........heroin.

There it was. I felt like a complete fool. I was an idiot. There was never any reason for me to know or educate myself about opiates prior to this. But now it was my addiction. What where these drugs, all in the opiate family, doing to my son and what could I do to help him stop.

Poppies.....the Wizard of Oz.......that's about how much a knew.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Necessary Course

Digging into the world of drug addiction was not something that came naturally to me. But digging into something that was hurting my son was.

It had taken me another precious year to realize that my son had a life threatening disease.

I had to go through the motions that most parents or people go through before the "reality slap" cracks you across your face and sends you reeling. Accepting that your child or loved one is an addict is something that takes way too long.

While in the hospital the second time when Robby was going through the detox, doctors had talked to us and highly recommended that my son seek professional help. I did not hear their words because I did not want to believe that my son was addicted to pills. Who gets addicted to percocets? I had taken them before.... they just make you go to sleep.. what fun could that possibly be? He's not addicted to could someone become addicted to percocets.....if they had told me crack cocaine..... well, this was his fathers drug of choice.
I was so stupid.

When I finally allowed myself to look back even further, all the warning signs were there. I could see them now... bright as a full moon on a streaker. It was all so "in my face". The moodiness, the bad grades, quitting sports, different 'new' friends, wrecking his car..... falling out of his friends car and landing on his head.... drunk. When this incident occurred, the doctors who examined him told me then that he had drugs in his system along with marijuana, and alcohol. They told me to seek counseling for him.

This was maybe the beginning of Robby's "road trip" into hell. I wanted to stab myself in the heart for not taking these teenage boy 'incidents' seriously and doing something about it sooner. I just kept telling myself that he was just doing what all kids do. Especially all boys. His words would soothe my worries... always telling me he was fine.. just having fun with the guys. Telling me his school sucked and he hated the kids there and that's why he was having so much trouble with his classes. He even told me that other kids were interrupting the class and he could not pay attention. I was angry with the teacher for allowing such unruly behavior to disrupt Robby's concentration. After many meetings with teachers and staff at his high school, I knew he was riding on thin ice. If he missed seven more days of school he would fail. He assured me he would graduate. The day I found out he had not been in school for the last two weeks I felt completely defeated. Again, I blamed the school. Why had they not contacted me until now! Apparently they were not in 'denial'....there was no intercepting Robby's mission to self destruct. He had given up long before this. He only had 3 months left when he officially dropped out, unfortunately it seemed to him that it would last a lifetime.

What does it take for the addict and those who love them to understand that he (or she) is an addict? There is really no way around this process. You beat yourself up when you look back and ask yourself why you did not do something sooner, why you did not know it or see it sooner. Does "catching it" sooner make a difference? I believe that it might. But the bottom line is that an addict does not think he or she is an addict, until... they are an addict. So they will fight you. They will reassure you, they will reassure themselves. They wont even question how strong (or weak) they are. Unfortunately, from all I have learned and all I have researched and all the recovering addicts I have talked to...... It is a process that will not be hurried along. NOTHING makes it come and go faster. A series of necessary events that lead you to your destiny. It is a course that sadly must be taken.

Robby had professed his innocence. All the words he spoke were the ones I wanted to hear.
"This was an isolated incident." "He would never do it again." "He had learned his lesson." I was so grateful that he was alive that these words were good enough for me. Robby was a smart kid. He knew he did not want to live the life his father did. He was weepy and remorseful. He had scared the shit out of himself and it was over. But Robby was on the 'road' that needed to be traveled.

With all that I know and all that I understand now, I still blame myself sometimes. In my case I think..... it was my maternal instinct that would not except that I could not save my child from anything and everything that was threatening him.

Tough Love!....I think..

Over the next year I remained blind. Robby worked here and there, but would always lose his job within a couple weeks. I can guess now, but at the time I could not understand why he kept losing all those jobs. I never once questioned what he was telling me..... "They did not have enough work for him"... "The pay sucked and they were taking advantage of him so he quit."...... "He could not stand the guys he worked with" (that one pissed me off) But I actually found myself feeling bad for him and mad at the company that let him go. I continued to convince myself that he was just going through bad times.
He had a new girlfriend and they spent a lot of time together. They seemed like a good fit. I was real happy for him. She was the only thing right now that he felt good about. I let them spend as much time together thinking he really needed someone to lift his spirits.

As the months passed, I was starting to get irritated. I would hear Robby and his girlfriend into the wee hours of the night talking, laughing, watching TV. Going up and down the stairs constantly. Opening cabinets, cooking food..... It would be close to 3am before things would quiet down. The next day, I would open his bedroom door and his room was a mess and smelled like dirty laundry and stale ashtrays. In my frustration, I would try to get him up. His girlfriend had left for work, it was time for him to start looking for a job. He would just role over and tell me to leave him alone, he had not gotten much sleep. Around 4pm he would get out of bed and start this routine all over again. He was grumpy and miserable looking. He would lay on the sofa watching TV until his girlfriend got off work. I tried to talk to him but this would just set him off. I knew he was frustrated with losing his jobs and I tried real hard to be sympathetic. But things were not getting any better. As long as I let him alone, things were quiet. But I was losing my patience. I had no idea how to handle this. We were fighting out of my frustrations and his lack of ambition to do ANYTHING at all. He was 18 years old now and was doing nothing. Sleep all day, up all night. It was now the norm. The more I tried to talk to him, the nastier he got. The things he started to say to me would crush me. He was becoming hateful and verbally abusive. I would just cry now out of pure desperation. Sleeping all day, up all night.....

One night, something woke me out of a dead sleep. I made my way downstairs and heard Robby moaning and groaning in the bathroom He was sitting on the toilet while vomiting in the trash can. Worried, I waited outside the bathroom door. He told me he just had a stomach bug. I went back to bed after getting him some water and doing what I could for him. But something made me get back up again. I sat on the edge of his bed watching him writhe in pain. I suspected something more then the 'bug' and he finally admitted it too me. He was having severe withdrawal from painkillers...... We spent the rest of the night and into the morning at the ER. They let him detox while checking his vitals and we were sent home.... He promised it was over. He had gone through the worst of it and he was not going to do it again....

Painkillers? Oxycontin..... Percocets.....? Why would he be taking pain pills? They make you sleep. I was not educated in any of this. I thought people got hooked on things like cocaine... or crack...Where did the pain pills fall into play? I just did not get it....But he said he was done... he went through the withdrawal thing. It was all out of his system, it was over now.

More months passed..... nothing changed. Up all night, sleeping all day. He was mean, nasty, disrespectful and didn't seem to care about anything. His room even had an odor coming out of it. He was verbally abusive to the point that I would burst into tears and he would laugh at me...he attacked every decision I had ever made in my life. He put down my career choices telling me I did not make any money and was at a dead end in my life. I fought back,.. defending myself. I reminded him that my career choice had supported both of us for the last 10 years with no child support. He told me I should never have had a child if I could not support him. Insane arguments that ended with me crying and him storming out of the house. We tried counseling.... he snickered and sneered at me when I poured my heart out to him hoping the counselor could shed some light on what was happening to us. My heart was breaking. Why was he being so mean? This was not my Robby... what had I done to him to make him feel so volatile towards me? The counselors told me they could not help him. He was an addict and needed professionals that specialized in addiction. I was angry with the counselors. I did not understand what was happening. When did this all go wrong? Obviously, I know now, I was still in denial. How could my son be an addict. He was not an addict, he was just going through 'something' that would pass. The word "addict" was just too harsh. I kept pushing him to try. Encouraging him....helping him get through this rut he was stuck in. Anything I could do to help I did. Anything positive that I saw, even the slightest thing, would thrill me. My hope was not lost. I relished in these moments. But that is all they were...... moments, then my hopes were smashed once more. I wanted to do it for him, I wanted to force him to do it. I ran circles around myself trying to make him better. I was becoming mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Then the inevitable happened. I finally cracked. I could not watch him continue to be this way. The fight happened between us that I never in my wildest dreams thought would happen. Things were being thrown, words cut like knives, I exploded..... and he exploded right back. He left in a heated rage... I told him not to come back. It took me 4 hours to clean up the mess we had made during our fight.

So this is what "tough love" is? I sobbed for days.... I needed someone to talk to... I did not know who. Nobody I knew had been through this. Nobody. I was so blown away by what was happening. I was embarrassed of what my son had become. I was scared to death for him. What had I done? I threw him out! What had done?!! I felt so alone.... Who could I turn to? I walked around in circles I'm pretty sure, for days. No answers... no comfort. I did not feel good at all about my decision. I acted to hasty. Where was he? I made it worse! Had I destroyed what little hope he had? Had I sent him into a frenzy of despair... Had I kicked him when he was already down? ....The doubt in my mind was excruciatingly painful. I replayed the fight over and over in my head. I think Robby was right! I WAS a crazy lunatic! But this had been going on for almost a year.... What other choice did I have? I could not control myself, my thoughts, my grief, I was losing it. I turned to my computer..... I needed answers. I needed to ask questions.... I sobbed as I typed in random words..... I did not even know where to start.

I soon found and joined a forum and started to talking to others going through similar problems. "Troubled Teens" is where I started. Knowing now the word 'troubled' didn't even begin to scratch the surface of what I was up against. But I had to start somewhere and the final stage of denial that I was in led me to believe that my son was just 'troubled'.
I found a small amount of comfort... it was the only thing I had. I typed and sobbed out my story to complete strangers....

These strangers saved my sanity.

And so began my journey into reality. I was not prepared at all to hear the answers to my questions. It was a jarring reality that would bring me to my knees.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"I'll never do it again"

Robby "died" that night,....
But the paramedics were able to 'bring him back to life' with a shot of a drug called Narcon that neutralizes/reverses the effects of heroin. His friends called 911 and administered CPR until help arrived. They saved Robby's life, and for that I will forever be indebted.

When I got to the hospital he was resting comfortably. At least five hours had already passed by time I got there.

When he saw me he let his head fall back on his pillow. He squeezed his eyes shut tight to hold back the tears. I hugged him and cried and then I hugged him some more. This kid was my life. The thought that I could have lost him that day was hard to swallow. I could not bring myself to think too long and hard about that. I shut the thoughts out as soon as they entered my mind. But the reality of it was still there and it was the most frightening, sick feeling I had ever had in my life. Even as a 17 year old young man he was still my little boy.

My questions came slowly.... I did not understand any of this. Why Robby? What happened?
My feelings and lack of answers were overwhelming. I wanted to slap the shit out of him for being so stupid! I tried to keep my calm and just thank God he had not killed himself. The mixture of emotions, trying to stifle myself and remain calm for my son's sake were just about all I could do. He was remorseful, and did offer some information... the information I know now, was what he knew I needed to hear. Or maybe just what he wanted to tell me.

"I only tried it once."
"I did not know what it was"
"Do you think I would be that stupid?"
"I sniffed it up my nose"
"I'll never do it again"

All the things a parent needed to hear? Maybe not the ideal conversation with your child, but given the circumstances.... it was the only thing and the only words you could hope for.

I would keep my eye on him. In my heart I wanted to trust his words. My head was not comprehending any of this too well anyway.
"When I was a kid" we tried stuff... sure... smoking weed, taking hits of speed, the occasional Quaalude. And then there were the really crazy kids that would talk about 'shrooms' and hits of LSD which no one dare to take more than 7 times because then you were 'legally insane'

But heroin?......MY GOD!...... Why would a kid try heroin?


Fentanyl powder seized by a Lake County Deputy Sheriff in Painesville Ohio, where a male subject had been discovered unresponsive and struggling to breathe.
Generally, if something is not effecting our lives, we hear it, but we do not process it. "In one ear and out the other" as they say.
If you watch the news, and especially if you live in the North Eastern part of the United States, you have most likely heard of Fentanyl.

"Fentanyl is a powerful opiod analgesic with a potency approximately 81 times that of morphine. Due to its potency, its ability to subdue pain in a short period of time has warranted it a Schedule ll drug in the United States.
Schedule II drugs are any drugs that have a high potential for abuse, are accepted for medical treatment in the U.S. or any drug that may lead to severe physchological or pysical dependence."

"Fentanyl was first synthesized by Janssen Pharmaceutica (Belgium) in 1959. Fentanyl was introduced into medical practice in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic under the trade name of Sublimaze."

This, and more information can be found at Wikipedia's website

"In its legal form, fentanyl has been around nearly 50 years.
It is still commonly prescribed as a skin patch, lozenge or intravenous drip for patients with cancer and other chronic pain."

"In the late 1970s and early '80s, outlaw chemists developed a new, more powerful twist on fentanyl in private labs. They called it China White, a name given high-grade heroin. This was no accident. It mimicked heroin's high and satisfied the same cravings. Its staggering potency made it attractive for street sales.
But powdered fentanyl is so powerful, so toxic, an extra grain or two can render a dose lethal. Some people who shoot up can't even slide the needle from their vein before they die.
Every couple of years, street fentanyl kills a dozen or so addicts somewhere in the United States.
The outbreak that quietly began to percolate in northern U.S. cities in summer 2005 and would reach a crescendo in May 2006 was beyond anything law enforcement and health officials had seen.

By April 2006, emergency workers in Philadelphia, Camden, N.J., and Delaware were swamped with overdoses. Heroin laced with fentanyl and sold as Al Capone, Flatline, Rest in Peace, Rolex and Exorcist was dropping addicts everywhere.
Across the river, New Jersey was also counting dead bodies. Emergency responders were handling 60 overdoses a day, compared with the usual 10 cases."

Read the full article:

Learning about a few junkies dropping dead is something we hear on the news or read in the newspaper. Most likely and understandable our response might be, "Well, they asked for it"

Honestly, I felt the same way. You sow what you reap.... you get what you deserve..... you play you pay.....

But now it was my son. My beautiful son. He was my life.....and I had almost lost him.

Excuse me....Did you say HEROIN?

That night in the hospital when I was finally told that my son had OD'd on Heroin, I barely processed the doctors words.

HEROIN! What? what? what? WHAT did you say? HEROIN? No..... NO he did not...! What the FUCK are you talking about! There must be some kind of mistake! Where would he get heroin? Heroin is BAD! No it is REALLY bad! This is wrong! Something is VERY WRONG!
Really bad people use heroin.....Junkies use Heroin......My son is not a junkie!

There was no question in my mind, someone must have slipped him heroin.... He could not have had any knowledge that what he was doing was heroin. He was with his friends. These were really good friends. One of the boys I had known for years. They were all good kids.

And what the hell is fentanyl?

A bad batch of heroin? I did not think anything could be worse than heroin, and now they were telling me there were 'bad' batches going around. Apparently there IS a difference between good and bad heroin.... and my son had gotten a 'bad batch.'

Heroin: n. A semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from morphine, a derivative of the opium poppy. It is the 3,6-diacetyl ester of morphine (hence diacetylmorphine). The white crystalline form is commonly the hydrochloride salt diacetylmorphine hydrochloride, however heroin freebase may also appear as a white powder.
As with other opiates, heroin is used both as a pain-killer and a recreational drug.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Just about 3 years ago, a chain of events began that would impact my life in a way I had not prepared for. These events would force me to take on a whole new direction. Force me to look at life in a whole new light. Deal with life in a whole new way. Had I known what was in our future I would have made changes years ago. Would it have made a difference? I will never know, but I still think of the past almost daily and wonder what I could have done differently. Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and it sucks.

The guilt that consumes you is almost debilitating. How did this happen and what could I have done to change it? Why did I not see it sooner? How could I have been so stupid?

It is called 'denial'.

That ugly 6 letter word that keeps coming back to bite me in the ass.

Before I began my search for answers, I had no idea of the thousands and thousands of families and people that were haunted by addiction and fighting to save their child or loved one. So many family's. Different lives and upbringing, different genes and DNA, different race, different religion, different cultures, different traditions. But we are all the same. We are bound together by our love for an addict. The disease does not discriminate. It rears it head and attacks us all in the same manner; it then unites us in a way that others will never understand. These 'others' are the lucky ones. The ones that just nod at you and give that sympathetic look..... not knowing or truly understanding your pain and agony. They will never know how lucky they are to have escaped it. We are in a select group but a larger group then I would ever imagined.

It is hard to see it coming. It is hard to see the signs in the beginning. They are minor changes. When they do occur, as for our children, we assume or maybe hope it is a natural part of a growing process. We shrug these changes off waiting for them to correct themselves ....we know they will, cause this is just one of those phases. As things go from bad to worse we begin to feel frustrated, maybe even pissed off. The confusion and helplessness comes into the picture shortly afterwards. We turn a blind eye sometimes because we don't want to face it. We cant face it. But it is always there...lingering like a black cloud of despair. We start to feel inadequate and wonder where we went wrong. We feel guilty, ashamed and share our feelings with nobody. All the while hoping things will fix themselves. If we just keep helping them figure their life out. Clean up their mistakes. Make things easier for them so they are not so overwhelmed. This has to be the reason... they are just overwhelmed with life. I will help them get past it. A year could go by before you know it, maybe two....or even longer.

We are in denial.......

Our roller coaster ride has may be anger one day and fear the next. Confusion and frustration, then anger again. The guilt consumes us once more and we sob, then we pray, trying to find answers as to where we went wrong. The answers never come. The frustration returns one moment then we find that we are angry again. We lose our ability to concentrate on even the small things. We eat, sleep and breathe frustration. We are being taken for a wild ride that we did not choose to buy a ticket for.

We become exhausted. We do not know where to turn. Then we see our child (or loved one) doing better one day...We are flooded with overwhelming hope and happiness, only to have it come crashing down soon after. We continue to 'try' to make things better. We know they want to do better.... we saw them try last week. We are now scared and feeling desperate to do something. This could go on for years sometimes.

We are now labeled "enablers".
I had this affliction for at least 2 years.......

Soon enough the feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and complete fear take over our lives. We now need a support group to help us undo all the natural normal feelings that we have. We need to learn to let go of someone that we love with all of our hearts. We need to learn how to step back and watch that person destroy their lives without trying to help. In some cases we are told to cut off that person because we will only hurt them by staying in their lives. It is all so unnatural. It is excruciating pain that is in a class all it's own. If we don't cut them off we could contribute to their death. It is time to except the truth and reset our brains to 'let them go'.

Let go and let them fall into the pits of hell where hopefully before hitting "rock bottom" they will learn all on their own that this is not the life they want. Or....
Let go and hope that they do hit rock bottom so they have no other choice then to seek professional help.
Let go and pray they do not die before they hit rock bottom.
All the while, we must except that what it may take before they see the light is............ death?
How does that work exactly...

Even now, I have to admit, I am still in denial sometimes.

Denial: n. The act of denying: the refusal of a request, etc. a refusal or reluctance to admit the truth of something.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Leaving Addiction Behind

Years ago I chose to break off from an abusive, unhealthy relationship with my ex husband. I was finished living with an addict. I felt I had done everything that I could do. Nothing was changing, things were just getting worse. The first roller coaster ride I was on was not so hard to get off. I hated addiction and I hated the people who so selfishly allowed themselves to get caught up in a world of drugs. They chose a life of this drug induced euphoria over their loved ones and it was intolerable selfishness. I tried to help 'him' change for years. When I left I did not look back. I was all used up. I had no regret when I walked away. The only ache in my heart was for my son. He would never know what his relationship could have been with his father had he not been a selfish addict.

For the next 10 years, we were free of that life. Sure Robby had to see his father on occasion, but due to a court order, it was supervised. He saw what his father was, I did not have to tell him. I raised my son the way I thought best. We did not do too bad I might add.

Addiction was gone from our lives for the most part. We knew it lingered in the background of our reality, but could not touch us anymore. Addiction was not in my vocabulary anymore. It was over, it was behind us now.

Addiction: n. A person who is dependent upon a drug.
vt. To devote or give oneself up to. To practice sedulously


My son was born in the Fall. As most children, he was an inquisitve little being. A daredevil to say the least. He was a lot like his mother.
Unfortune events tossed us into the "Single mom, only son" world. Back in the late eighties there were not too many families that we knew in our situation. Not yet anyway. We seemed like the first ones ever, so I did what I could to make life as normal as possible.

As the next few years passed, slowly but surely (just a step behind us) parents were divorcing and his friends learned to except this change in their young lives the way Robby had been doing already. The difference? His father was an alcoholic and an addict. He did not see him too much, but when he did it was turmoil for me. Never knowing if my son was safe..

He seemed to handle these things the best a kid could handle them. I tried hard to keep him sheltered from knowing just how bad his father was. When he asked the questions about his father I tried to stay away from any conversations that might hurt him more.

I always wondered if my son would be threatened with the possibility of becoming an addict like his dad. I would not allow it though. He was not being raised around it. I had told him of the dangers and kids were a lot more educated these days. But I did not understand well enough that all the love and stability that I offered would not be enough. The casual lectures about staying away from drugs and why, were not enough. The D.A.R.E program that his school offered was not enough.

Robby was a daredevil yes, but he was also the most loving kid you would ever want to meet. He was curtious and pleasant. He was helpful and concientious. His room, was immaculate in his early tween to teen years. Everything in it's place. He would tell me regularly "You need to clean your room mom" He loved me and hated to see me cry. He was full of belly laughs and had a zest for life and what it had to offer. His ornery side was a charming as the day is long. When he questioned something, his little eyebrow would go up and down without effort. He charmed the pants off everyone who knew him and the best thing was that he had no knowlegde of these talents.

Not much would bring him down. Mostly just when he was not allowed to 'play' for whatever reason.
He plowed into life and rarely looked up. He did not care what he ran into. If he bumped into some kind of obstacle, he handled it based on the mood he was in at the moment. Nothing upset him too much or for too long. Nothing stopped him, nothing scared him. Nothing seemed too hard to overcome. His many dreams included wanting to be in the Marines or be a Cop or Pro Football player

He played football, baseball, wrestled and was on the swim team. Although he never set the report cards on fire, his grades were good. He made honor roll once and his teachers all loved him for the most part.

He worked part time jobs after school and would soon be driving. Were did the time go!
He continued to hang out with his childhood friends, but as summer came and went, I noticed a change. I noticed different friends. The old ones were not around as much. I chalked this up to maturity. Most of his old friends were younger by a year or so. The new boys he met seemed to be very mature, very helpful. Seasons change..... things change.....

By eleventh grade the signs were there. The struggle, the mouth, the pissy attitude...He did not want to work. He wrecked his car. He dumped his nice girlfriend. I was in the school weekly. Counselors, teacher meetings, detentions, and suspensions. What the hell was going on!

His senior year was agonizing. Three months before graduation, Robby dropped out.

July 4 2006

It was July 4th and it was a beautiful day. It was a day for celebrating the Declaration of Independence. A day for lots of food, fun and fireworks. Relaxing on a boat, floating on the water and having a few beers. I called my son a few times throughout the day to see what he was up to. I missed not having him with me anymore. He was at the age where all he wanted was to be with his friends and would just mope at family get-togethers... you know how it goes.

We were about 45 minutes from home. I could not reach him but knew he was most likely having fun somewhere with his friends. My son Robby was 17. The last thing he wanted to do is hang out with me...

As the day came to a close, I attempted to reach him again. I always had a nagging feeling when I could not get him on the phone for hours and hours. Why wasn't he calling me back?

"You worry too much" people would tell me.

It was late.. sometime between 10:00 and 11:00pm
Still no answer....

I worked up the numbers in my head (I would try his friends cell phone)....what was left from my earlier buzz was making me foggy... butI finally heard another voice on the other end..

"Hi Dave? Is Robby with you?"

Before I even finished my question I heard the frenzied words spewing out Dave's mouth. A lump formed in my throat and my heart started to pound as if it was on 'alarm set' and had been waiting to go off at that very moment.

"trying to reach you all night, .........Robby ........OD'd......... ambulance ..... CPR ..... not breathing......."

My head suddenly felt like it was being squeezed from both sides.....I was going down........falling to my knees in the grass, my body shaking from the inside and vomit caught in my chest. My legs could barely hold me up but somehow I was running to the car......