I am a Shatterproof Ambassador living in suburban Chicago. I lost my son Jared, age 28, to a heroin and cocaine overdose on 10/16/15. Unfortunately, I know too many people impacted by Substance Use Disorder. I am an active volunteer in Lake County, Il, where I live. In other words, due to the death of my dear son, I am very heavily immersed in the fight to reduce the stigma, raise awareness and educate the communities in our area.
What a strange world. Like you, some days I feel so consumed by our new normal. I have been going through Jared’s personal journals from early in his journey. I feel sad that I am only learning about some of his struggles now, all these years later. I believe that this pandemic would have been so hard for Jared. He always felt better when he connected with people – even strangers. I’m missing Jared so much these days. I feel so far away from him as the days pass. On May 2nd, he would be 33.
The following is an email that our son, Jared, prepared for his “Sober Coach” in August 2015. He had just confessed to us that he had graduated to using heroin. I found the email after unlocking his computer and combing through years of files. We had spent years – decades, really – dealing with all of the fallout from Jared’s drug use; living with our own angst and turmoil and anger, we never fully realized how much pain HE was in. We had started going to Al-Anon about the time he wrote this, which helped us with our issues. This email revealed how little control he had and how badly he felt.
“I woke up this morning with the same guilt that has been building for years, although today it felt particularly heavy. Feeling angsty and frustrated, I shot out of bed, and the blood rushed out of my head. Feeling woozy, I made my way to the sink and poured a glass of water before heading to my desk to check my email. It was then that something came over me. A thought. “This isn’t fun anymore, this is WORK. The hiding, the lies, the sneaking around, the routine of running for a fix at the first opportunity to have some [falsely justified] earned time to do some alchemy with my neurotransmitters.
Where am I going? I see those around me doing this “living” thing quite well. Social media is filled with people taking pictures of exotic travels, new cars, weddings and celebrations, new jobs, the list goes on and on. If I look with complete honesty at myself, my lifestyle and constant altered state has consumed every waking moment of my life.
5 years have passed since I walked the stage at my college graduation. That 5 years has passed in the blink of an eye. There were some highlights though. I started a media production company and produced an impressive body of work. I fell in love with a beautiful, supportive girlfriend. I travelled far and wide working on documentaries as far as Europe. But then something crept into my life. What started as seemingly casual unwinding with some drinks or even an occasional bump of coke, turned into a bank account draining, relationship destroying, health declining, and behavior modifying nightmare that put the kabash on all of those things in record time.
But back to today. I woke up today and all of these things flashed before me. Those were all choices I made, but now my fucked up behavior of constant neuro-alchemy is pure habit. The only thing I feel is guilt, and yet I can’t stop.
I have some great tools, support and a new opportunity for a fresh start on the horizon and at this very moment, I feel like using them. Oftentimes, I get hung up on the fact that I wasted so much of my youth being the way that I am, especially when I see friends and colleagues and strangers around me who have accomplished so much with their lives already, some of whom are years younger than me. But whats the point in looking backwards. Onward, Ho, Jared! “You can’t go back and you can’t stand still, if the thunder don’t get ya then the lightning will.”
Jared died from an accidental overdose of heroin and cocaine on October 16, 2015.
Story by Amy Voss