Son died from a heroin overdose
My son was 16 when he first started using. He started smoking pot. Uh, I found out. He got arrested for stealing a check from somebody to pay for his pot. And it just went on from there. I didn’t realize that he was using other things until later on, but that’s where it started, with pot. I know a lot of people that smoke pot, so I really didn’t worry. I didn’t think it was a gateway drug. I didn’t think, you know, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal to him until it went beyond.
Kim’s son becomes addicted to meth
He was about 18 or 19, and I realized he was using meth. And we had a next door neighbor who he was working with. And I found out through a friend of theirs that his wife had taught him how to shoot it up with a needle. And that’s when I realized that this was bigger than what I thought.
Aware of a problem, Kim tries to intervene
I put him into a program. Um, he fought the whole time there and didn’t want to stay there. And he promised me that, you know, it was not a big, it wasn’t a problem with him. And that he wouldn’t do it anymore, and so he came home. And it didn’t stop. He hid it from me then.
The addiction brings money problems to the surface
He’d come up with I can’t even tell you how many excuses of why he couldn’t pay his rent. It was always, “They didn’t pay me enough.” “The guys screwed up, and they didn’t give me my full pay.” “I lost my check.” You name it. And of course I believed him because I didn’t, I didn’t have a choice. I chose to believe him because I wanted to.
I know a lot of people that smoke pot, so I really didn’t worry. I didn’t think it was a gateway drug. I didn’t think, you know, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal to him until it went beyond.
With heroin entering the picture, Kim realizes she needs to change
There came a point in time where I realized that if I didn’t change my ways then he was never gonna change. So I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I said, “I can’t help you anymore. I can’t be part of your life like this. I can’t watch this. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this anymore. You know, you’re going to have to figure it out. I will help you if you want help, but that’s all I can do.”
Six months after cutting off contact, Kim changes course
I decided that it would be nice if I could see him for his birthday which is September 12th. And so we made arrangements for me to go pick him up with his daughter and take him to dinner. And I picked him up probably a couple hours earlier than I was supposed to, and he was so high. I was just livid. I couldn’t even, I couldn’t even imagine. I felt really bad because my granddaughter was there watching it all.
So after we got through dinner, um, I took all his stuff out of my car in the parking lot of that restaurant. I said, “That’s it. That’s it. I can’t, I can’t do this anymore.”
Three days later, he was, we couldn’t find him. His girlfriend couldn’t find him and that was on a Friday. And on Wednesday, uh, the chaplain called me and told me that they had him. And he was on life support – that he overdosed. And, um, he had aspirated. He had pneumonia, and I needed to get down there as quick as I could. So I did. And he spent three months in the hospital. One month was in ICU. He had no brain activity, and he pulled out of it. He pulled out of that. He pulled out of that surprisingly.
Out of the hospital, the addiction cycle continues
He had been clean for five months, but not by his choice. That and that was the big, that was the big thing. He wasn’t clean because he wanted to be clean. He was clean because he was forced to. He was in the hospital, so he didn’t feel the effects of the withdrawal. He slept right through it. And that worried me because I thought, “This is not going to be a big deal to him because he doesn’t remember any of it.”
I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the ICU that day. Even though he was asleep and he was intubated and he wasn’t moving, that was the first time in 16 years that I saw my son. My sweet son that was not on drugs. Even though he was asleep, couldn’t talk to me, I could tell he was my son.
So I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I said, “I can’t help you anymore.”
A weekend heroin relapse begets another overdose
I think he got into a fight with his girlfriend. And somewhere between Saturday night and Sunday morning, he did some heroin for the first time in five months, and it killed him. And they waited, uh, I got a call at 6:14 on February the 9th, 6:14 in the morning. And I already knew who it was. They didn’t tell me he was already dead, but asked me how fast I could get to the hospital. And so my boyfriend drove me to the hospital. And these people had dropped him off there. He was already dead, and they dropped him off at the hospital. Yeah.
I have lived for 16 years with the stress and the stress of getting that phone call. And now, I have no stress. The day he died my stress just left me, and it was replaced with mourning. Mourning’s not stressful. It’s just mourning. I just miss him. Incredibly. I see that. I miss that little boy.
Kim’s message of hope
If I could help one mother or parent, the best advice I can give is don’t be afraid to let them hit rock bottom. Because, and don’t be afraid to stand up and not enable them. You know, I learned that death is death. Rock bottom is not death. Rock bottom is just right there, almost, but you have to let them hit their rock bottom because without that they can’t go, they can’t move forward.
He was an amazing man. Just an amazing human being with a really bad drug problem that I knew for so many years that eventually would take him from me. You know, I try to prepare myself for that. You can’t. I’ve known, I knew for years that he wasn’t going to live through this, but you just can’t prepare for that.
Kim lost her son to heroin
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