A Story of Loss: Dana and Jane King

Is addiction a choice or a disease? I don’t know. What I do know is that addiction is a severe form of physical, mental, and emotional suffering. Judging those with addiction will not help them overcome it. They are humans, and they are in deep pain–and so are their families.
Our son once dreamed of going to Harvard, having his own business, a family, a house and a pet dog. He hated his addiction and fought hard to overcome it for many years. At one point, he had nearly four years clean. He went through a lot:  7 rehabs, 3 mental institutions, countless therapy programs and AA/NA meetings, 13 years on and off of depression and addiction medications, 3 jail terms, several years working at a rehab, doctor after doctor, and 9 suicide attempts.
Six months before he died at age 28, he told me how tired he was of fighting. “I’m trying so hard, mom,” he said, “I don’t know if I can make it. But I’m gonna try.” He got right to work, went back to rehab, got back on his medications, and was the happiest we had seen him since Elementary School.
He was staying clean, enjoying life, taking his medications, attending therapy, and working full-time at a job he absolutely loved when he suddenly relapsed and died. The heroin he purchased was laced with fentanyl.
But that is the reality of addiction. Was it a choice? Was it another suicide attempt? Was it an accidental overdose? Was it murder by a drug dealer? Was it a disease? Genetics? Parenting mistakes? Mental disorder? Addictive personality? Learning disabilities? I don’t know. I only know that our son is dead and we did everything we could to prevent that. Let’s just put it down as suffering, and get to work figuring out how we can help those caught in it. Maybe we’ll come up with some of those answers while we’re at it.
Our advice to others is this: ¬†Join up with Project Live Upper Perk, and get involved, or become a monthly financial partner with us. The current systems in place are not working, in many cases, and we all need to pitch in and strive to find new ways of approaching addiction and recovery. There have already been many deaths in this valley, even though you may not have heard about them. It’s time to speak up now. It’s time to stand up and fight. The suffering needs to stop.

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