What to do after a loved one dies from substance addiction

Do Not:

  • Hide; we are everywhere and want to connect with you.
  • Avoid the topic; we need to get people involved in finding solutions.
  • Feel responsible; this problem is too big for one person to shoulder.
  • Feel ashamed; addiction is not a moral choice, so it should not shame anyone.
  • Lie about cause of death; your loved one deserves a medal for fighting an enormous enemy even though the battle was lost.
  • Hate: if your loved one was addicted for a long period, he or she probably introduced someone to drugs, sold drugs, and lied to get drugs. Others involved in the first or final blow are just as likely to die, and more death is not the answer. Love and forgiveness will open a way for you to heal.

Do:

  • Inform the Public
  • Ask local media to headline the tragedy.
  • Highlight this person’s real (before addiction) personality.
  • Tell people what this person would like others to understand.
  • Explain how the addiction first began and then progressed.
  • Warn others that addictive substances kill valuable people.
  • Describe how you feel, what you learned the hard way, and what you would like changed.

 

  • Connect people in need with people who are supportive and informed
  • Point out when others use insulting or simplistic terms for a complicated problem: junkie, loser, scumbag, tested dirty, etc.
  • Work to redefine the problem using words that accurately link addictive substances together, not just drugs given by doctors versus drugs sought out illegally.
  • Defend people with addictions so that others will approach them with support and not an egotistical attitude.
  • Connect with the friends of the deceased person because they might be the next to die, and they are just as human, trapped, hurting, and scared.
  • Befriend people with addictions by asking and listening without judging or lecturing because they need to feel accepted, loved, understood.
  • Reach out to other families who are trying to save their loved ones; you know how alone they feel, and you might be able to help them avoid the pain you are feeling.

 

  • Campaign for change
  • Write to anyone you can find in power and demand policy change.
  • Explain how the system made getting help difficult or impossible.
  • Explain how judging substance addiction is the real problem.

 

  • Grieve
  • Reach out, join groups, and find support.
  • Cry. You didn’t deserve this!

If you the reader can add to this list please do. I have been rethinking my son’s death for 4 years, and I made many mistakes in what I should and should not have done. Looking back I wish someone told me what to do, but instead I felt numbed by the singularity of my experience. Part of the numbness was due to the lack of any discussion by those who had lost someone due to overdose. Another big reason for my tendency to grieve alone was the stigma of addiction and death by an illegal substance. Once I started reaching out, the people with addictions themselves were my saviors. So, don’t make the mistakes I made, and add anything you learned  so I can update this list for the next poor soul who stumbles upon this post.

Can we talk about addiction?

Remember when we couldn’t talk about ‘certain’ topics: br**st cancer, homos**uality, relig**n? Well, lately I have been talking about a sickness that has to do with the search for love and meaning. After I saw all the guys wearing the pink breast support T-shirts, everyone now has a rainbow on their bumpers, and my afterlife philosophy is based on love not judgement, I decided to start talking openly about addiction. I don’t clear the room anymore.

I still do get those sad eyes and uncomfortably long periods of silence while others are thinking. Then, the one old stoner guy in the crowd opens up and everyone joins in.

People want to talk about their losses, fears, and questions. Too long our culture languished in polite, super short conversations about addicts, which only meant someone else’s kid (who was a rotten degenerate) and a chart of statistics on poor people. Addicts’ lives were too real and immediate for anyone to really understand the relationships, the relief, and the reality associated with an addiction. Now everyone knows an addict, is an addict, or lost an addict. We are everywhere, and they can no longer hide us in caskets devoted to a singular tragedy.

Finally, Helen is Reddy and roaring, but the tune is “I am addiction hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore, and I know too much to go back and pretend.” They can’t ignore our losses, and they are startint to ask us to be a part of the conversation. At some point addicts and their loved ones need to speak up, but many are still afraid to tell the truth. They can’t always find someone who understands, and many still are hiding the truth due to the reactions. Just like Helen Reddy’s hit single, we want this single to hit the charts and change the reaction to our engendered group. Addicts and their loved ones are under-respected, and the stereotype needs to get rewritten to include who we are, what we are, and why we are.

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Sit awhile and talk with Matt Edwards. He died at age 25, but he is still talking. Please join your voice to Matt’s and show the world that addicts are worth loving, understanding, and saving by putting a few dollars toward getting this film to production. We need to change the conversation to include us, the addicts and the ones who love them.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1928235665/written-off-the-short-sad-beautiful-life-of-matt-e

 

Junkies! Addicts! Pill Heads! and all you who don’t have a voice!

A gathering of voices is beginning!

Please add your voice, your story, your spirit (no matter how broken) to this project. In 2010 my wonderful son died of his addiction. He wasn’t a degenerate, but the world has labeled him one. He was valuable. They wrote him off and put him in jail although he never hurt another human being, only himself.

I want you all to have your stories told and the dignity of these men, women, and children reinstated.

Please visit this film project and add your story!

https://www.facebook.com/mattsjournals

After you add your voice, watch the beginnings of a film. It isn’t complete, so please add your story to this independent film project. We need to tell the WHOLE story.

Documentary Film, Matt can rewrite addiction to include Love!


Please watch the film’s trailer to see some of the footage already created.

Matt’s story, journal, and sadly beautiful life has a chance to touch and change the hearts of millions. The people who knew Matt best want to help narrate his journals and life in an independent film project, which will reach those millions. Matt loved his journals for a reason, they tell the Truth. Your help can get this truth to the general public.

Please place this link on your social media, and please consider supporting this independent film project. We all should have our names on the credits. Imagine all the names we can add! So many of us are unheard. This is your opportunity to make our voices loud. Join the struggle to remove the stigma!
In other words, please show your love to Matt and all addicts like him by simply reposting.
Together, we can change the stigma, the reaction, the approach, the rhetoric, the whole stupid mess prescription drug addictions cause in our country, families, and lives!
Sincere thanks for reposting,
Matt’s Mom

November 2, Monday 2009 rated 5

I’ve had enough.  I’ve had enough drugs; I’ve had enough heart-break; I’ve had enough of playing the loser.  I want out; I want out now!!!  Tomorrow I’m hitting the pavement hard to look for a second job.  When I find that job, I’ll work my ass off until I get enough money to go back to Europe, if I haven’t gone to Ukraine, back to Poland and seen Pela again.  By Nov. 2nd next year I’m going to end my life;  I really will; if I can’t make something this simple happen by then, I’ll do the un-thinkable. Better to DIE than to go on living like this, never achieving anything, always just being satisfied with survival.  No more.

I’m real emotional tonight because I have just seen some pictures of Pela from her trip to Italy.  I find it impossible to believe that 3 years later I still find fire in my soul for this girl.  I wish it was gone.  I wish there were some way to extinguish this feeling, but no–it creeps up into the very depths of my soul; it is extended there.  Why?  Why?  Why? What exactly does the future hold now with this?  BE GONE!!

I hereby RESOLVE to have traveled to Europe by this time next year.

Intake: Ø day 1