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.


  • 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.

Is substance addiction a disease? I say no!

I would like to throw a wrench into this disease definition machine. I am one of the few you will hear that cringes when addiction is explained as a “disease”. This term or definition is erroneous, simplistic, and undignified in my Aristotelian  formed opinion. On one hand, the definition is needed so that people can receive insurance benefits for treatment, so in that it is pragmatic. However, if we continue to define how people suffer in current evolutionary terms, we will never truly arrive at the fully understood solution. Addiction is not a simple disease, and we cannot approach it with a medical cure or vaccine. The idea that everything has a medical solution, and that being a chemical or genetic cause, is archaic and harmful to the advance of human health initiatives. Not only is this term negating the cause and affect of addictive substance reaction, the term is allowing for more of these substances to enter into profit margins and sales campaigns.

People who are experiencing addiction did not catch a virus, do not have faulted DNA, and do not have abnormally growing cells; they have been poisoned. They were formed and progressed normally through childhood. When they experienced a substance that affected their system more profoundly than in the other 80% of the population, they experienced a euphoria that others may not comprehend. Without the poisonous substance, they would not be in bondage to a feeling that others do not experience.

The definition of ‘diseased’ adds to the stigma of imperfection and in need of medical intervention pervasive in modern society. The medical system is to blame for placing these substances on the market, yet they blame the victims for being diseased. People with substance addictions are in bondage to medicine, chemicals, or whatever else enters their systems, and they were unaware of the risks because pharmaceutical companies hide or disregard the euphoric feeling a large portion of our population experiences. Once this feeling is experienced, the individual cannot find anything in life so pleasing. Some individuals are wired with different endorphin receptors, it is that simple. By calling this phenomenon a disease, we are allowing society to label a reaction to poison as the fault of the individual who ingested it due to a diseased system. This “epidemic” (another disease reference used to describe the death rate from opioid overdose) is not so simplistic as saying someone’s system is not operating correctly. This is a rewiring of their whole system. Addiction is a form of bondage, and the companies who produce and market this poison should not be allowed to blame the consumer for putting heroin, a known and banned substance, in our general population.

Consider this: Heroin and opium were banned because of the damage they do to a population (i.e. China). Pharmaceutical companies are selling more heroin and opium under the pseudonym “opioid pain relievers” without any blame. How do they do this? They blame the consumer for being diseased and keep many in bondage by providing more chemicals to ease the long recovery period, around 2 years on more opioids.

Consider this: Someone who deals heroin on the street can receive years in jail, yet any doctor can prescribe the same doses without a court order. Someone who accepts heroin on the street will be entered into the penal system with a searchable record, yet this same record will make finding employment or housing almost impossible. Most medical professionals have employment and comfortable housing.

This is not a diseased individual but a diseased system: American sells heroin with the properly signed documentation, becomes disgusted when individuals experience total loss of facilities to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, penalizes individuals for trying to avoid the pain of withdrawal, gives more heroin for pain avoidance to individuals with bouts of pain, and then defines anyone who cannot stand face to face with heroin/opiates/opioids/Vicodin/Oxytocin/oxycodone/etc. and win as diseased.

Expedition and the Business of Addiction

“The stronger this faculty is, the more necessary it is for it to be combined with integrity and supreme wisdom, and if we bestow fluency of speech on persons devoid of those virtues, we shall not have made orators of them, but shall have put weapons into the hands of madmen”-Cicero, De Oratore III: xiv. 55.

* * * Geheime Reichssache (Secret Reich Business) Berlin, June 5, 1942

Changes for special vehicles now in service at Kulmhof (Chelmno) and for those now being built

Since December 1941, ninety-seven thousand have been processed [verarbeitet in German] by the three vehicles in service, with no major incidents. In the light of observations made so far, however, the following technical changes are needed:

[l.] The vans’ normal load is usually nine per square yard. In Saurer vehicles, which are very spacious, maximum use of space is impossible, not because of any possible overload, but because loading to full capacity would affect the vehicle’s stability. So reduction of the load space seems necessary. It must absolutely be reduced by a yard, in­ stead of trying to solve the problem, as hitherto, by reducing the number of pieces loaded. Besides, this extends the operating time, as the empty void must also be filled with carbon monoxide. On the other hand, if the load space is reduced, and the vehicle is packed solid, the operating time can be considerably shortened. The manufacturers told us during a discussion that reducing the size of the van’s rear would throw it badly off balance. The front axle, they claim, would be over­ loaded. In fact, the balance is automatically restored, because the merchandise aboard displays during the operation a natural tendency to rush to the rear doors, and is mainly found lying there at the end of the operation. So the front axle is not overloaded.

2.The lighting must be better protected than now. The lamps must be enclosed in a steel grid to prevent their being damaged. Lights could be eliminated, since they apparently are never used . However, it has been observed that when the doors are shut, the load always presses hard against them as soon as darkness sets in. This is because the load naturally rushes toward the light when darkness sets in, which makes closing the doors difficult. Also, because of the alarming nature of darkness, screaming always occurs when the doors are closed. It would therefore be useful to light the lamp before and during the first moments of the operation .

3.For easy cleaning of the vehicle , there must be a sealed drain in the middle of the floor. The drainage hole’s cover, eight to twelve inches in diameter, would be equipped with a slanting trap, so that fluid liquids can drain off during the operation. During cleaning, the drain can be used to evacuate large pieces of dirt.

The aforementioned technical changes are to be made to vehicles in service only when they come in for repairs. As for the ten vehicles ordered from Saurer, they must be equipped with all innovations and changes shown by use and experience to be necessary.

Submitted for decision to Gruppenleiter II D,

SS-Obersturmbannfiihrer Walter Rauff .

Signed: Just

Excerpts taken from The Ethic of Expediency by Steven B. Katz, College English, Volume 54, Number 3, March 1992, 255:

We have seen that Just’s memo is based purely on expediency; the memo itself is a technical instrument (like the vans themselves) for carrying out the organizational “task.” I have also already pointed out how in Aristotle’s conception of deliberative rhetoric, expediency seems to be the primary virtue. Deliberative rhetoric is expedient when it serves its end, that is, political persuasion. The test of success in Aristotelian rhetoric is in the persuasion of the audience (the so-called “audience criterion”). As “the art or faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion” (Rhetoric I. ii. 1355 b26), then, rhetoric could be considered a means to an end, an expedient, a techne.

Hitler takes the ethic of expediency underlying deliberative rhetoric to its logical extreme. For Hitler, propaganda, the truest form of “technical rhetoric,” replaced deliberative discourse as the preferred mode of communicating with the masses:

The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but in calling the masses’ attention to certain facts, processes, necessities, etc., whose significance is thus for the first time placed within their field of vision.

The whole art consists in doing this so skillfully that everyone will be convinced that the fact is real, the process necessary, the necessity correct, etc. (Mein Kampf, page 46)

Based on the ethic of expediency, rhetoric for Hitler was pure technique, de­signed not to encourage debate, but rather to indoctrinate: “all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan”; the reason, Hitler adds, is that “As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and the end entirely cancelled out.”

The ethic of expediency in extremis and combined with technology underlies the rhetoric of Just’s memo to the SS and the holocaust in general. But to some extent, technological (i.e., economic) expediency is the “moral” basis of many decisions/actions in our society that sometimes harm human welfare or imperil human life. A recent example would be the decision not to notify the public of the bomb threat to Pan Am Airlines to keep the airlines operating; in December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York exploded over Locherbee, Scotland, killing all two hundred and seventy people on board. Ethically speaking, the difference is only one of degree, not kind. The decision not to notify the public was a “systems decision,” concerned more with the “efficient” operation of the transportation system than with the people the system is supposed to serve. In any highly bureaucratic, technological, capitalistic society, it is often the human being who must adapt to the system which has been developed to perform a specific function, and which is thus always necessarily geared toward the continuance of its own efficient operation.

Michel Foucault, French Philosopher:

‘Truth’ is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation and operation of statements.

‘Truth’ is linked in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it. A ‘regime’ of truth.

In reference to the above literature on power, truth making, and expedition in our work, I would like to pose a few questions to readers:

  1. How can people redefine certain individuals as addicts? I believe this is a dehumanizing term, one filled with semantic technique that is designed to reduce humans to a single characteristic: weak-minded. Those with addictions are so much more than this simplistic term.
  2. Why are highly addictive drugs given out without an repercussions for the harm they do? I believe this expedites a system we all believe is based on scientific reason: life should never include pain of any kind, and we should trust the system engineers overseeing pharmaceutical science.
  3. What would change if addiction were not a crime? I believe those suffering would speak up and not run in fear: giving over one’s whole body to be controlled and monitored in locked facilities make people afraid to talk.
  4. What are the terms used by technical professionals concerning addiction? Disease, rehabilitation, patients, beds, treatment facilities, mental illness, and impulsivity.
  5. How much money is involved in making, incarcerating, and treating people with addictions? If addiction was completely gone tomorrow, our economy would plummet. Pharmaceutical companies, lawyers, law enforcers, prison guards, counseling center staff, in patient facility employees and investors, and anyone who makes a profit off making or controlling humans with addictions would be out of an income.
  6. Why are those with addictions so uninvolved in this system? I believe they would make sure they were not boxed without lights, were not transported without being the driver, were not defined by unfeeling scientists, and were not tattooed with a criminal record.
  7. Why do addiction treatment facilities advertise so heavily yet so exclusively? They are tied to profit. They are business-minded. So, their rhetoric must be designed to get people with insurance into their beds and paying their therapists.
  8. Do addiction businesses pay to lobby against pharmaceutical companies? I doubt it.
  9. Do addiction businesses donate to addiction charities? No, they typically don’t.
  10. Do you want to help humans suffering with addictions?

I believe we need to redefine ourselves, our loved ones, and the terms used to describe what is happening.

I refuse to say addiction is a diseasea disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance. I don’t have a simple term because the whole problem isn’t simple. We need to let people define themselves.

I believe we need to stop expediting how we deal with addiction. Expedition: useful for effecting a desired result; suited to the circumstances or the occasion; advantageous; convenient; based on or offering what is of use or advantage rather than what is right or just; guided by self-interest.

I believe we need to hear the voices of people battling addiction more than professionals. Addicts will tell us how it all began, what is keeping them down, how they really feel, and why they are turning to something besides other people to feel good. The professional community argues opinions based on observations, and only those with backing get published. This muddies the rhetoric being published. The addicts already know, but they are not published unless they are rich, famous, or somehow going to make someone a profit. We need to ask for, listen to, and value their opinions more often.

I believe all the rhetoric surrounding addiction is associated with power through humiliation. Humility toward the power of the addictive substance is quite different from walking naked through a crowd of onlookers. The whole “I am stronger than you, so do what I do” message needs to change to “I am the same as you in my humanness, but I really don’t understand how you must feel trying to fight this alone.” This should be followed by handing the person the power to cover their nakedness.

Do you agree?

Matt’s mom, Jane

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!


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.

Matt on drugs; how to love the person and not the addiction

This was Matt on drugs:

In 2007 Matt called me on the phone, desperate, crying, in trouble. His trouble started with a stolen cell phone from a store near his apartment, escalated to a drunk driving, and ended with Matt burning the tracks off his arm in a paranoid frenzy.

I had enough of my 22 year old acting like he was 15.

So, after repeated attempts for him to take his stored memorabilia in the basement to his apartment, I just brought it to his place. This sort of ignited a frantic attempt to stay a child within Matt. He was so angry with me, so incensed that I would remove his stuff. According to Matt, he wasn’t ready to grow up. He really wanted to remain a child in his own eyes. I questioned why, quietly, to myself. Why would he not want his things with him. They were important to him; every scrap of paper with a number, every concert ticket stub, every trinket won from a fair had intense meaning to him. However, my answer from him was that he wanted to travel light and have his childhood home as his refuge.  He just couldn’t get out of the nest. At his age I gave birth, had my own apartment, lived many states away from my parents: all the better I thought. Not Matt. He wanted to come to his childhood home and sack out, store valuables, and just plain be a child still. It was like he never quite grew up.

About a week after I dropped his boxes on his doorstep, around 7 or 8, I received a desperate call from Matt describing how the police came to his door and accused him of stealing a cell phone from a store. I don’t remember the details as he went on and on about his innocence, the police’s hate for him, the circumstantial case they had, and how they confiscated the phone. We talked, I rolled my eyes, and Matt hung up. About two hours later I received another call, but this was different; he was crying. He had gotten in his car, bought a 40 oz of some dirt cheap beer, and drove around town. He narrated the story about how the cops herded him in a corner, pulled him over for no good reason, and asked him if he had been drinking. He said he had, which according to Matt was the fatal mistake.  So, now he had a DUI and a theft in one day. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

However, the next events really pushed me into a fog as Matt was beyond consoling. He was talking nonsense, conspiracy theories and the like. It’s a bit foggy as to which happened first, the job loss at the local grocery store, which he worked at since age 15, the job loss at Walmart, the long span where he couldn’t find a job, or the friends that just stopped hanging out with Matt because some pills supposedly disappeared. None of this was Matt’s fault of course. All just looked like he did it, but of course, he didn’t, according to Matt.

As I sat listening to still another story of Matt’s on how he was the innocent citizen being harassed, I became suddenly very tired, very jaded, and very sick. I just needed off the phone.  I told him we would talk in the morning because I was too tired to think and was not buying any of it. So, I hung-up. He called back. I hung up. He called back. I got very firm. He cried. The phone sat silent.

About an hour later it rang again and I let the answering machine pick it up. I could hear Matt, whimpering, asking for me to please pick up the phone because he had burned himself. Upon picking up the phone I received the most desperate cry I had ever heard to this day. He was so scared, so cornered, so desperate. Holding the phone and holding my head I asked quietly what had happened. The response was explosive.  “Mom, I was frying a burger and the pan flipped! I have grease on my arm. Mom, I burned my arm. It hurts so bad. Oh my God! Mom, it’s bad!”

I tried to comfort him and give advice for burns. Thinking about other things as I was talking, I just didn’t believe that this was accidental. So, I asked, “Matt, did you do this on purpose? Kiddo, what is going on?” The conversation continued, fast paced, frantic actually. He was so repetitive, so emotional, so desperate. If I could go back to that day, I would have done things so differently. But, retrospect doesn’t afford experience.  After an hour of trying to calm him down, I was drained and he was still a vortex of emotion. Absolutely sick, I calmly told him that I was going to hang-up, and in the middle of his crying I did just that. I hung-up.

The next day he came over to the house, about a 30 min. drive. He showed me his bandaged arm, which had a deep burn about 4 or 5 inches long and an inch wide directly over the inner bend of his elbow.  My son had done it to himself, though he still held to the grease story. Hearing about this later from a friend who was there to witness the whole account, I now understand that he was afraid the police would see his track marks, scars from heroin use. I was so naïve.

That summer progressed with the same sort of incidents.

Matt would come by to ‘visit’, hang out on the couch, sleep in his clothes, wake up to make a few phone calls, and suddenly take off. He was often wearing dirty clothes, always wrinkled, and shabby.  I bought him such nice clothes here and there, but he never bothered to change. Strangely, he never stole from me, always kissed me hello and goodbye, and always wanted to know about my life. I explained, but he never seemed to remember what was really happening with me.

At that time I had a beau, a guy, a proposal, and a hopeful new relationship. Things were moving quickly with my new love, and Matt was fairly absent. I would call and he would be in Chicago, or he would be driving somewhere far away. His life was like trying to keep up with a political campaign—one day this was the story and the next day that story was changed and neither had to do with reality. It was so tiring, so maddening, so draining. I just turned away. Such a mistake.

August came and a ring was given. However, being married before and a bit older, I just didn’t see the need to buy 100 people chicken and a dress that I wouldn’t wear again. Me and my beau decided to elope. The day arrived and only a few were informed because if you tell more than the necessary two, than the other 100 feel hurt for not being the necessary 10.  The preacher arrived and the two witnesses, and one other not foreseen guest. Yes, Matt showed up that morning, stoned out of his head.

Matt had a large dirt smear on his face, which I asked him to wash, kindly. That was unimportant and with a flip of the hand he dismissed the necessity to look clean at his mom’s wedding. He did want to put something clean on though, and popped into a bedroom to take off his pants. He emerged only in his boxers. Mind you, the preacher, his wife, and the two witnesses were sitting in the livingroom sipping coffee as Matt crossed back and forth several times looking for a good outfit.  Everyone was mortified!

The wedding moved down the street to the little church in our small community, Matt still had the dirt smear on his face. The wedding ended and my new husband and I went back to my house to begin our first day and evening as a married couple. Oddly, Matt couldn’t understand why we wanted the house to ourselves. He actually argued with me about staying there the night. After about a half hour of firm requests Matt left dejected, hurt, angry, and sad.

This was not the real Matt but a hijacked body. Your story may be similar, your own or your child’s. I am telling this story so that you can see what it really looks like, what it really means to be an addict or close to an addict. So, by no means should you feel that your story is that horrific, that shameful, that odd. It’s all the same for everyone that gets drawn into the easy feeling of covering mental pain by using chemicals.

Once Addicts Find Honesty and Love:

Matt’s mental pain was due to low self-esteem and depression. After his addiction escalated to the point that he was put in jail for planning to rob a pharmacy, Matt went into rehab.  This center forced Matthew to grow up, look at himself, be honest, face himself and take responsibility for himself. I can tell you with all honesty that my son came out of rehab a man. For the first time he and I talked as adults, as friends, as equals, and as one soul to another. The year after Matt left rehab was the best year I have ever spent with another individual ever. It all started the day I picked him up and he said, “Mom, ask me anything, anything at all, and I will tell you the truth. I’m not afraid of the truth anymore.” Telling the truth freed Matt to talk, to share, and to feel free again.

The world after rehab and the freedom Matt experienced that summer of 2008 is my hope for all of you creative  and sensitive souls out there that find yourselves looking for a chemical to cover the real you and make yourself more palatable to the world. I have spoken to many an addict, many a social phobic, and many a creative soul, and they all seem somewhat the same. Society has made these people crawl inside themselves for a safe place, a lonely place, a dark place that only feels good  after releasing that inner self and becoming unafraid to express all those emotions and personalities.

Matt was now free mentally but jailed financially. In search of a job, I sent Matt to a city far away, strange, and cold. He once again was sucked into the pain of rejection, the stigma of different and the easy feeling of mental freedom for dollars.  Who wouldn’t pay to feel good? How many of us would march before the world without make-up, without hair dye, without all those façades that cover the real us?  Some people just don’t have that easy of a cover.

Moral of the story:

The truth is your best friend, your midnight lover, your clear mirror, and your salvation.  If you or someone you love wants/needs to be free from an addiction, I know at least a big part of this freedom is the ability to be completely honest without fear.  Consider the necessity of love in a human soul and what love means. Have you ever truly loved someone? Was that love a feature of control? Not love. Was that love a feature of being needed? Not love. Was that love required because a blood-connection was shared? Not love. (I don’t love my Aunt Mildred. She called me a brat and cheated at rummy.) Was that love the feeling of running through a field of flowers completely butt-naked and flabby loved,  cottage-cheese thighed loved, short-dicked loved, bald-headed loved? Okay, that’s what people need! It’s the “I love you because I know you and you let me really know you, the real you, the human you, the workings-of-your-mind you. Thank you for letting me know YOU.”

I didn’t get that until just recently. Matt taught me that. I should have driven to his apartment and gave him a hug that night while laughing at his ridiculous excuses and letting him know that I still loved him. God taught me that. God has always listened and never asked a crumb of me. He even wrote me big letters letting me know what is wise and not before I was even born. Fat, ugly couples that have been together forever taught me that. I notice that couples that are not considered “beautiful” by commercial standards are so happy and not divorced. I also notice that “beautiful” couples are typically serial marriage couples.

After 48 years of life, the first half completely dumb, the next forth a bit durrrrr, and this last few somewhat salient, I would like to pass on the little treasure box I have filled to others. If I can save one addict, parent of an addict, loved one of an addict from missing that critical addition to a meaningful life, I will have achieved something with this blog. Therefore, I am not going to be all rainbows and unicorns as I present the truth. I find the rhetoric around addiction to be very vanilla on the web. It is also very sciency, if that is a word. Science shimience, addiction is a disease of the soul.  So, try just yelling out the truth as the truth will set you free.

Love and hugs,

Matt’s mom

Addicts and families of addicts, you are loved (by the Huffington Post!)



Taboos in conversation:

  • So what do you think about how many people are dying from prescription drugs for pain control?
  • My son is struggling with an addiction.
  • My son got arrested for drugs.
  • My son died of a heroin overdose.
  • I need to take time off work to enter a drug treatment program.
  • I don’t believe they are bad parents just because their son has an addiction.
  • Please, stop talking about that guy like he wants to live this horrible existence.
  • Is that Vicodin you got? Did you know that is heroin? Did you know your doctor prescribed heroin? So, you are taking heroin for your toe infection?
  • I know he is on probation for drug charges, but I want to hire him to help him get a leg up. Without our acceptance, he will turn to crime to survive.
  • Judge, this is not a crime. The man was trying to feel normal again. His brain got re-wired ‘somehow.’ Can we spend the money on getting him help and leave off the stigma?
  • Pharmaceutical companies. Period.

Huffington Post is starting the conversation by crossing the taboo line. Please help us get addiction out of the casket and into loving arms!

You are loved, at least by me,

Jane, Matt’s mom

(Please add your love by reading the article and sharing it. )

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

Poetry as it hits the page (Demons and Dreams)


I am posting this as a reminder to myself to keep going. At this point I, Matt’s mom, am getting worn with the emotional effort, the time commitment, and the amount of self-restraint I need (so as not to vomit out something that will create walls between those who need to read these journals). So, I feel I need to return to the reason I decided to publish Matt’s writings. This poem. I first read this poem about a week after Matt died. This one little slip of stained paper spoke to me. It was not only prophetic, but it was symbolic of the end of my dear son’s struggles. It sums it all up. And, it deserves re-posting.

Do you appreciate good literature? If so, I suggest you look a bit closer at this piece.

Symbolism–beneath a common stone–Oh, how too common are grave stones. Really, don’t we only put things of great importance under stones? What else goes under a stone? What is a stone? It doesn’t grow. It doesn’t move. It marks a spot. It is dead. It is heavy.

Prophetic–Matt was buried under a granite stone. Was he speaking of his vision? He was told in vision from his great-grandmother and grandfather, both passed, that a casket was being carried. He couldn’t see the contents in this dreams though.

Antithesis–demons as well as dreams–such opposites, these two things are in opposition. The fight is over. Neither has won.

Immediacy of vision–that which you neglect to bury, burn instead–Those things which have been neglected by this life are too dangerous to be left here; they must be gone; they must be reduced to ashes.

Mystical essence of the human condition–they will rise like smoke to the Almighty–Human suffering serves a purpose. It must. This struggle must be sensed by the creator of Love, of the Soul, of this Reality. It is not the here but the above that will reach these realms.

Transcendence of archetypes–sending rains that wash away–Water given from above is a cleansing gift, welcome. The renewal of rain sprouts new growth by washing those things rotted, forgotten, considered useless, into something new.

As I stated earlier, this poem was one of the first readings I had after arriving at his apartment to cleanse it. (Purposeful crass referral) His roommates were very unlatched by finding him dead. I really believe death was not real to them, besides the occasional dead deer on the side of the road, they really never saw it. You do know that death in the US is taboo? I pondered at their fear, their reticence to say a word, their shock at this simple reality–we are all born to die. I believe they were thinking I was somewhat stoic. I’m not stoic; I am the opposite. I am comfortably unhappy with this reality. I am happy that there is another awaiting. They misread my peace. Oddly to many, I was happy upon reading this scrap of paper. It spoke fathoms about my son. This simple little poem had no scratches on phrases reworded, no thesaurus additions, no evidence of flourish meant to impress; it was pure human condition. As the title said, it hit the page, pure.  It said this: “I am mature. I know what it means to be human. I do not love wealth, privilege, vanity. I want something better for myself and you. I have no chance of winning. No matter what, God must sense my sufferings. He must take notice. He doesn’t owe me anything. I am only the smoke that rises from my struggle.”  My son died at the age of 25. However, my son arrived at a higher level of human understanding than most 80 year olds who I know. How many 80 year olds are willing to have everything burned? How many 80 year olds see the struggle between their demons and dreams? How many 80 year olds see their lives as a scent in the nostrils of their creator?

Upon  re-reading this in my quiet home,  I wept deeply; I wept because I was in the presence of true beauty as only seen through sorrow. How unfortunate that such great sorrow is necessary to see such beautiful truth–we must bury demons, we must burn everything material, we must hope that the expanse of God takes notice, we must suffer as He did, we must command those who are left to place a common stone upon all things lost–these are common occurrences of all humanity. We are no different, no better, no worse, and of no importance outside of God. As God suffered so must we, and this suffering is a sweet smell.

At that point I could smell the sweet smell of my son’s soul in the smelter of gold. How many parents can say that? I am truly blessed! My son, who was a 15-year-old for 8 years then proceeded to become the sage-on-the-mountain in 2 years; he was more of a man than anyone else I have yet to meet in his mid-twenties. I still weep over losing him, and have tears streaming down my face as I type, but these are not tears of desperation. These are tears of melancholy; they mark the joys of days past. They mark my desire to be more human than I have yet to be. These tears are the result of the burning of all that I cannot bury within myself.

I hope that with close reading others will see the wisdom held in these words. Being few, they are the result of the smelter of human suffering, which produces absolute truth. These words are the absolute truth of every last, single human-being on this Earth. What else can any of us hope for? What can any one of us expect?  Truly, what is left when we are gone? Only our suffering is marked. Only our suffering has any value.

By Matthew

Bury these things

Demons as well as dreams

beneath a common stone

Lay to rest all that’s wasted.

That which you neglect to bury

burn instead

The smoke will rise

reaching the nostrils of the Almighty.

He will sense your sufferings

sending rains that wash away what you couldn’t burn nor bury.

If anyone wanders along who is a scholar of poetry, please add to my analysis. I would appreciate your poetic appreciation of this piece.

Sept 10 and 11, Thursday/Friday 2009 5/7 (got a raise, lots of parties, optimistic, Mom’s rant on hedonism)

Sept. 10

Intake: Ø day 2 (This was the day I buried Matt one year later. Odd that he did not enter anything except his intake, truly odd.)

Sept. 11

Today started off kind of sour.  I could really feel the depression start to come back, but once I got to work everything was a lot better.  I GOT A RAISE, I think to 8.50, which would be just great.  Work was quite busy, one of the busier night that I’ve worked.

After work I went and spent time with my new roommates; we smoked and had a few drinks.  It was really a lot of fun. We took a walk through the student neighborhoods; wow, Friday night, there was madness in every direction.  A lot of parties going on for sure–never really experienced that scene before.  It was really nice.  I am really optimistic about this new situation.

Intake: Ø day 3, smoked

(I was taken aback reading this. Matt is a hedonistic creep in most people’s eyes, yet he never experienced college party culture. Honestly, we just never did this–party to party. It just never occurred to us country people. What a dichotomy–Matt: drug addict, who never experienced the party lifestyle./ Upwardly mobile America who knew it well. Matt who could write a well-developed paragraph full of voice and depth./ Upwardly mobile America, who can’t write a paragraph without copying it from the internet, who can’t express a true thought, who can’t see past the leash that feeds them, who live for the next Twitter on Justin Bieber vomiting, who travel to foreign countries believing they will be honored and coddled, who consume more calories than the average beef cow, not satisfied with a 3000 sq ft house and a $40,000 car/personal computer/personal protection device/sexual expression of their fantasies… .  AND, this guy is happy to be getting how much an hour? Really? He is happy with that! Happy! Who is hedonistic now?

Sorry for being a bit terse. I just had another encounter today. Someone was going on about how parents don’t do this and that, and the kids become drug addicts. The guy who said it was honestly about #600, and I am not talking about his value. Maybe instead of sending all those flyers on education reform we should just send out a whole bunch of mirrors.

Matt’s mom)

How Big Pharma Hooked America on Legal Heroin: The OxyContin Files | Motherboard

How Big Pharma Hooked America on Legal Heroin: The OxyContin Files | Motherboard.

The above link is too an article that links the pharmaceutical industry with the irresponsible unleashing of synthetic heroin for the sake of profit.

You really should read this article. It’s long, but here is a snipet:

To cement the brand’s reputation among doctors, Purdue conducted more than 40 national pain-management and speaker-training conferences at resorts in Florida, Arizona, and California between 1996 and 2001. They invited over 5,000 physicians, pharmacists, and nurses to these all-expenses-paid symposia. Many were recruited and trained for Purdue’s national speaker bureau. Purdue offered starter coupons offering a free 7-30 day trial of their medication, a practice that’s common among pharmaceutical companies for everything from skincare medicine to contraceptives. OxyContin became an instant hit among doctors, many of whom saw it as a wonder drug in the battle against the debilitating effects of chronic pain. As the good news spread sales of the drug mushroomed, rising from $40 million in 1996 to more than $1 billion in 2001, outstripping even Viagra. Meanwhile, Purdue’s campaign to extend the use of powerful narcotics to ordinary chronic ailments – for which the drug has been well documented to help – proved highly successful. By 2003, over half of the OxyContin prescriptions written in the United States were written by a primary care physician.

A Nova Scotia mother shares a heart-breaking story about her son’s addiction to prescription drugs – CBC

A Nova Scotia mother shares a heart-breaking story about her son’s addiction to prescription drugs – CBC.

Is this happening here too? I imagine so from the comments I receive from those struggling to get help. After listening to this recording I go back to so many conversations…. So many people have to travel for hours just to get treatment. They then move to those city centers but find themselves in communities that are so very tempting. I am wondering how much help is out there. I am also wondering how much Big Pharma is putting towards the problems that they start.

Please help! Your opinion needed!

Ask the readers.

I know you folks know a whole lot about the issue of overdose deaths and addiction. Memo here really needs some input and really wants to do something to help others. His daughter died this spring, age 18, of prescription medication addiction. Please visit him and post a comment; he wants to know how he should spend his time helping in this war. Thanks to you all,

Matt’s mom



For those of you battling addiction, for those of you who love someone battling addiction, and for those of you working with addicts, this post by Silvia wonderfully frames the essense of this battle. What we think and do today affects our tomorrows. As none of us live on our own planet, as this isn’t a virtual world, as people really do die, consider how your today will affect the tomorrow of others. Matt’s mom

Need anyone’s help

Need anyone’s help.

Like this blogger said, Methadone is evil. How much is spent on these clinics by us? How much could instead be spent on free treatment for users? Why is a progam that doesn’t work being funded? Drug companies are making a great deal off the sale of Methadone, that’s why.

Go to sleep little babe


My wealth, my life, my breath,

all has been humbled by a death,

yet half is gaining awareness,

while other is memory dearest,

Go to sleep little babe.


For I see only as in a mirror,

glass of time making clearer.

Sweet is the worn memory

reflective pool of melancholy.

Go to sleep little babe.


Healing found in maladies

Pleasure dome of mystery

Xanadu hath him enthrall,

Skylark nights do now call.


Momma, momma far from me

of will I fell in waters deep

Mercy, hear my lonesome cry

as Grace’s harvest let me die.

I fear, the wicked are brought down.


Momma, Who will sing for me?

I have come to cross a silent sea.


Flowing water lullaby, sleepy little babe

Stop your weepy, sleepy  pretty babe

Towers fallen, Satan’s power through

Go to sleep little babe, I will sing for you.

Even in death the righteous have a refuge.


I see the pain in your breast

You are weary go and rest

No more stairs in tower is bidding

Seems dark light is swiftly fading

Brighter scenes they soon will show.





The Physician

Me and Matt, trout at Colorado cabin

You may be one of four kinds of people reading this: someone who has never seen an addict (unlikely), someone who knows an addict (most common), someone who is close to an addict (plenty of this kind), or an addict yourself (you’re not alone). I was reading a piece done by a frustrated doctor describing his encounters with addicts in a clinic. It struck me. He was frustrated by these addicts’ apparent predictability and irritating tenaciousness. Outwardly, he or she (not sure) was cold, snobbish, unfeeling. But, once my initial steam condensed I saw the irony and truth there. The little rant reminded me of my encounter with one of Matt’s physicians.

When Matt was deep in his addiction, he would try to get operations. I am not kidding. (Those of you who are close to an addict will not be surprised.) Well, he would go to the emergency room complaining of extreme pain due to a hemorrhoidectomy he had years earlier. He claimed that he was still experiencing extreme pain and needed medication (i.e., oxy-anything). The physicians knew he was not, but what could they do? He just kept coming back, and he would make sure to keep appointments too. He would also tell me of his pain, at which point I would roll my eyes. But, it had worked in the past as he had several unnecessary operations to fix his “problem” over several years. He was quite tenacious and maybe even convinced himself at times, he was that much of a salesman.

The doctor’s story made me consider how physicians might feel, how they deal with these individuals, and how the individuals may feel. You see, Matt told me that he was going to get a colonoscopy bag as the pain was unbearable. (You should know that before this he told me he had cancer too.)  I just thought he was dramatizing for effect and didn’t believe it was in the works. Until I got a call to confirm the surgery check-in time! He had actually talked a doctor into doing it! I was beside myself as to what to do. Just the thought of Matt getting mutilated for more scripts was horrifying.

Therefore, I called the physician and we talked. I was angry and of course threatened a law suit if he went through with it. He explained that he knew Matt had a problem but didn’t know how to deal with his insistence. Short of it: the doctor understood that Matt did have someone who cared enough to call, and he cancelled the operation. Maybe he just needed some support, or maybe he just needed to see that this addict was more than just an irritation factor—a real human with real family. In the end, the doctor agreed to put Matt on a system of emergency room warnings to not prescribe pain meds. Wow, was Matt angry. He vented that I crossed the patient confidentiality clause and had no right. My response, “Hosh posh confidentiality maash. Love you more than some stupid law, kid.”

Well, about a year later he thanked me for doing it as he was clean at that point. He also gave me some insight into the insanity of addiction. Addicts, I now realize, don’t see these physicians as people, they see them as walls or doors. Caught in the secret tomb of Xanadu, below in the dark they just keep pounding their fists on the wall while repeating “Open sesame!” These doctors, being trained as scientists and not always especially socially adept, see the addicts in the same way; they are the baby birds brought into vets, and are of little value compared to the pedigreed dogs nicely leashed by caring owners. The birds have little hope without someone to spend the time with an eye-dropper holding and nurturing them, and they need to triage their caseload. I’m sure vets and doctors alike feel for those that fall out of nests, but really they don’t have the resources to help them, so they are just loud, open beaks. I imagine being bombarded by addicts would wear a person down considerably. I know Matt wore me down during his darkest days.

I complained and nagged and warned and blah, blah, blah. He didn’t hear a thing. Guaranteed. What I had to do in the end for Matt was be more human. I started listening more and asking more questions. I started looking at him less as someone who ‘just needed to straighten up’ and more like someone who just needed to be presented with alternatives, understanding, real help, a real way out of the icy caverns, something that didn’t sound like an unsympathetic response to the real pain he was experiencing—the pain of withdrawal and the fear of a tomorrow without peace.

I am hoping that doctors, friends and loved-ones of addicts, passersby, and those only acquainted with addicts will start to see them as people who have fallen out of the nest and need more than the “Just put it back in its nest and hopefully the mother will return,” sort of approach. I am also wondering why more programs don’t exist to help addicts. Throwing money at keeping drugs out of the country only keeps cops employed. It doesn’t help at all; just ask a cop if he believes the drug-control-effort is helping. Addicts need more than cops. If this doctor that vented about his/her duties had the training and the options, the conversations could go more like this: “Wow, you are in such pain. I can so feel for you. I can help, really. Would you like to go into a program that will give you the drugs you need? I can do that. But, they will continue to help you and not let you get to this point again. Don’t worry; your job will be waiting for you when you are feeling better again.” These addicts know that there are very few willing to do what it takes to have that conversation.

I wonder how many cops’ salaries it would take to put one addict in treatment for a year. Matt’s incarceration costs the state around 40K, not to mention the free lawyer he received and all the court time. After his death a detective worked on the case for six months. Hummm. His funeral costs me 15K and I didn’t pay for the autopsy, the State did. Big Pharma made a good percentage of his script costs—around 500 bucks a month for around seven years. I have no idea how much Middle Eastern drug lords made off him—plenty though. And, just think of the cost of his education. What a waste in capitalistic eyes. More importantly, what a waste of humanity. If you are a capitalist, fine, hopefully you can see that this is ridiculous spending. If you are a physician, hopefully you will one day see past the addiction and consider reaching out to these individuals with compassion. However, if you are a human, even better, hopefully you can see that people of all four kinds might consider looking more at the problem that prescription drug use is costing in souls.

Matt’s mom

Before Addiction

Before Addiction.


Odd how the present can actually change the past. Once fond memories can somehow change when looked at through the spectacle of current pain. Just this week I experienced something similar to the story above. Camping in a state, lakeside campground, I had the melancholy pleasure of watching the neighboring site, full of loudly vivacious kids, as the group explored the wonders found at the water’s edge. For others at the campground, the addition of the group probably brought grumbles and curled lips. For me, well, I looked on with tears, remembering when one of a similar group was a sandy-haired, knobby-kneed boy just learning how to skip rocks across the surface of the still waters. I continued to watch as the sun’s last rays reflected hues of golden rose and mixed with their shadowy figures.


Echo’s Rant on Methadone

Echo’s Rant on Methadone.


If you know or have known a junkie, I suggest reading this piece. So much of it rings true for me as my son died of these addictions. And, many of the pharmaceutical companies are getting quite wealthy off of addiction. My son used methadone regularly in addition to his heroin/oxy/valium/etc. use. My question is why the US Gov. spends so much time trying to keep pot and cocaine out of the US while subsidizing and promoting opiates, a much more addictive and harmful set of drugs? I wonder how many lobbyists big pharm employs. I wonder if south-of-the-border drug lords should get some lobbyists.


The basis for this blog


This is Matt’s mom. Matt died in September 2010 at age 25 of a heroin/etc. overdose. I know what you’re thinking–you’re thinking, “He must have been one of those seedy types I see sleeping on park benches by day and leaning against brick walls under neon, beer signs by night.” Not Matt. He didn’t stick out in the crowd like that. There is a growing trend in heroin use that is changing stereotypical herion user. Matt was one of those statistics changing the faces associated with heroin addicts. We came from rural America; I am a teacher of 19 years, and he liked to bow hunt, study music, ride his dirt bike, travel overseas, play cards, discuss politics, read (The Daily Onion, Blake, social commentaries, Facebook…), play the guitar, and write. He loved to write and write he did. He wrote little vignettes, lists of does and don’ts, random rants, poems, and daily journal entries. So, I suspect you will find these writings quite sublime. I found them after he died yet found them full of hope. They tell of the struggles, common yet often unheard, of a hometown junkie. As I type them up I will add them here.

This is a work, in part, to allow me to express the love I have for Matt, yet to express the depth that people of all types have even when dominated by outside forces. I would like others to experience not only how expressive my son was (I struggle with the past tense, as I believe he still IS) but how in tune to reality he was . I found his conversations so refreshing and engaging, however, I find his writings additionally timeless and enlightening. Oh, how I hope for one more conversation with him. Whoever is reading this, have you ever wanted for one last chance to say something? I believe Matt wants to say one more thing. This is here for you, in hopes that this one more thing will rise like smoke to the nostrils of God and live on though his body here does not. I invite any comments at all on his writings. In whatever area of growth you are, I hope they enlighten, entertain, educate, and enbolden you further. Additionally, I would like this blog to serve as one more way of saying, “Matt, I love you still and always.” Through my tears I will type out these writings and hope that someone visits here and finds something of value.

If I may suggest, read Matt’s Story Told by Matt on the top menu. The journals show the last year of his life day by day, and I will post them as I can under Matt’s Journals.

Warm regards,

Matt’s mom, Jane

If you read Matt’s story in his words, you will see that it all started with an innocent perscription to synthetic opiates. This looks like a good documentary.

Blue Chapters

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