Heroin Support Blog

Our goal here is to provide our readers with the latest information about the signs of heroin addiction, support groups, treatment options, life in recovery, prevention & advocacy in our communities, and how to deal with the grief of a lost loved one. If you have ideas or suggestions that you wish to share with us here please use our "Contact Us" page at the very bottom of this page to email us.

People who suffer from heroin addiction – and their suffering is unimaginable - from this evil disease are not bad people.

JoshuaJanneSandkuhler

Dear Family, Friends, Neighbors, Acquaintances, Co-Workers, Music Associates, and Our Heroes in “The Program,”

In the early morning of December 10, 2015, our son, Joshua, died from a heroin overdose. We believe his addiction started about 12 years ago but it’s hard to say for certain because this disease of the Devil entered our home as slowly and quietly as a snowflake hits the ground. Over time, we came to realize there was a lot of snow on the ground.

You may be wondering: Why in the world would anyone want to share such a dark family secret…expose the “Scarlet Letter?” There are several reasons.

Joshua’s life cannot and will not be defined by his addiction. Josh had this evil disease but his disease is not who he was. So, who was Josh? In his “professional” life, Josh was:

A brave firefighter and BLS technician with the BCFD
A skilled bridge inspection technician
A prolific and profound guitarist-singer-songwriter
An extremely talented engineer and producer of music for live performances and studio
A creative writer of stories
An aspiring photographer, woodworker, jewelry maker

All these things greatly impacted many people. All are now discontinued. This is WHAT addiction stole from the world.

But these things were his occupations, hobbies. Although they offer a glimpse of who Josh was, we don’t believe Josh, any addicted person, or any person, really, should be defined by their occupation. So, again, who was Josh?

A strong believer in, defender of, and evangelist for his Catholic Faith (Yes, you can have ugly faults and still remain true to your Faith.)
A loving, caring son, brother, uncle, nephew, and cousin (He always ended his phone conversations with “Tell everybody I love them very much and give ‘em a big hug for me.”)
A loyal friend to many
An empathic listener to anyone
A believer that “Right” was right and “Left” was wrong (I had to steal this line.)
A gifted storyteller and always an entertainer

Those of you who knew our son could testify to this being Josh. (Many already have on social media.) All these things greatly impacted many people in a positive way. But they are all now discontinued. THIS is WHO addiction stole from the world.

People who suffer – and their suffering is unimaginable - from this evil disease are not bad people. When not recovering, they are dreadful but it’s not who they really are. They are like our Josh. They are somebody’s mother/father, son/daughter, brother/sister, uncle/aunt, niece/nephew, cousin. Those with substance addiction have a devastating disease that requires intensive medical care, tough love, and an unearthly measure of patience and understanding. It’s very hard to look into those glazed eyes and recognize there’s a breathing human being inside. We know. We have looked into the eyes of our son but couldn’t see our beautiful Joshua. But, yes, sadly, it was. And as long as any one of these suffering people is still breathing God’s air, there is Hope, Hope for recovery that the person can again be who they are, not what they do. Hope is, many times, all they have left to lose. Hope is the last line of defense.

Warning to parents: Your children are the Devil’s target. If you don’t believe in the Devil you need to know, nevertheless, that your children are particularly at risk. If you have young children, don’t give them too much slack on their tether line. Discipline them with your love without destroying their spirit. Pray with them. Talk with them about drugs (and sex, too). Have meals as a family - - - daily. Monitor their use of the internet, facebook and the social media du jour, television, and the like. Although these are today’s sources of knowledge, communication, and entertainment, you must know they are also the world’s tools that, very insidiously, advocate all of the seven deadly sins and addictive behavior and lifestyles. Sure, we did all these things and, as it turned out so well for us, where’s the value in our advice? At some point in your childrens’ lives they will choose their own path. You’ll want to explore your hearts for some peace that their chosen path, especially if it’s not a good one, was one of their choosing, not a result of your ambivalence or negligence.

We thank all who have offered kind condolences, cards, gifts, and most of all prayers. Eternally love your family and live with the Faith that God keeps you all, always, in His Loving protection.

 

With Love,

Steve and Linnea Sandkuhler

 

#AskMeAboutMyAngel #HeroinMemorial #GoneToSoon

www.HeroinMemorial.org   www.HeroinSupport.org 

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Most Drugs Ruin Your Life. Heroin Ends it in the Case of My Brother Chris.

drugs

It started out a regular day as he woke up and went to store for a pint of vodka.  Hwas off work but it was pay day so he left around 1230pm to go to pick up his two day check.  He got back around 130 pm and he and I finished the pint.  About 20 mins later he was slurring his words.  I looked at Matt, my friend, and mouthed to him that my brother Chris is on something and Matt shook his head yes.  So i had Matt go in and I asked my brother "what you on brother?"  

"What you mean? I just drank that vodka to fast and then the joint."  We came in together and I said you act like your on that heroin again.  "I aint on nothing different" he said.  "Well you look messed up" is what I told him. "What do you mean you got me worried." he said. He looked at himself in the mirror.  His lips were purplish and pale face.  He said "take me to the store so I can get gas to cut the grass."  I said "mom aint gonna let you on the riding mower if you are that drunk go lay down and sober up."

ChristopherCook1

He went and laid down for a couple hours.  Around 9pm I pulled my mom outside and told her that he was on something and I was going to listen for him to puke because thats a tell tale sign he would of used heroin.   "If he ods again I am going to cut your sons throat.  I am not going to save him again" I said to his mother.  Five minutes later he came out bedroom bouncing off the walls and my thought was you big drunk.  He went into bathroom and I could hear him puking.  I hit my moms door and said hes puking his guts out.  I went out back and called my friend Matt and 2 mins later I heard mom banging on the door yelling for Chris to open the door.  I threw the phone down and told Noah to go hide.  I grabbed a coat hanger and popped the lock on the door.  

Chris, my brother, was face down with clear vomit all over his face.  It took mom and me all our strength to roll him over.  We had called 911 and I started giving him CPR.  The clear vomit just wouldnt stop coming out his mouth.  I had to scoop it out before every breath I gave him.  It was running into his eyes which were open.  As the ambulance pulled in driveway I felt for heartbeat and I had a flutter and then felt nothing.  I was about to do compressions when the paramedic grabbed him and drug him into living room.  They worked on him for 30 minutes and never got his heartbeat back.  Heroin ended my brother's life right in front of my family and me that night.  

You can read my memorial tribute to Chris by clicking here.

ChristopherCook2

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2015 Year End Memorial Tribute Video of Memories Shared With Us

HM480x480

Here is our 2015 year end memorial tribute video produced by us from the memories shared with us.   We hope by sharing this video we can help break the #STIGMA of addiction.  We also hope to put "faces" on the human lives that heroin ultimately took in the end because our loved ones deserve to be remembered for their struggles with the disease of addiction.  They were NOT "Junkies" or "Dope Fiends".  They were our loved ones who we shared vacations, holidays, birthdays with each year.  They were the ones that made us laugh & cry.  They are the ones portrayed in this video.  

Note: If you would like your loved one included in this video and others in the future please submit your memorial tribute by clicking this link.  You can also join our private grief support group at www.HeroinMemorial.org which membership is restricted to only members who have lost a loved one to heaven.

 

"Ask Me About My Angel" is the new slogan our grief support group has come up with to help with our nonprofit. You can support our nonprofit by purchasing one of our wristbands at by clicking here. 

PoemExplain

 

#AskMeAboutMyAngel      #HeroinMemorial       #GoneToSoon

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Heroin: Myth vs Fact - From the Eyes of a Mother Who Lost Her Son

HeroinTrustMe

In honor of what would have been his 22nd birthday, I wanted to share what my son taught me about heroin: myth vs. fact.

Myth: Heroin is cheap.
Fact: Heroin is not cheap. It cost my son numerous X-Boxes, Play Stations, TVs, furniture, IMacs, expensive watches, I Phones, even his beloved Charger. It cost him his dignity, his self-esteem, his self-respect. It cost him a decent apartment and all of it's furnishings, his German Shepherd, the love of his life, and their daughter. It cost him his life at age twenty one.

Myth: You can use it once in awhile and be fine.
Fact: There is no such thing as a recreational heroin user. It is not to be confused with a joint or having a beer. Once Pandora's box is opened, less than 1% of people are able to get it closed again.

Myth: My friend gets it for me.
Fact: Your heroin dealer is not your friend, he is a heroin dealer. If he were your friend, you would be alive to talk about it. If he were your friend, you wouldn't have gotten started in the first place because friends don't want their friends dead.

Myth: Heroin dealers look like thugs.
Fact: They can also look like a choir boy, be well-spoken, well mannered, very charming and come from a decent home just like you did.

Myth: Heroin is the ultimate high.
Fact: While the rush lasts minutes, withdrawal symptoms are always waiting for you. They include muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, insomnia, restlessness, runny nose, cold flashes and goosebumps, sweating, involuntary kicking motions, racing pulse, high blood pressure, increased respiratory rate, and severe anxiety.

Myth: I can handle it.
Fact: Tyler Andrew Addison 9/25/1993 - 11/03/2014.

- Gretchen Miller-Addison, mother who lost her son Tyler, 21, on November 3rd, 2014 to heroin.

You can read his memorial tribute by clicking here.

 #AskMeAboutMyAngel   #HeroinMemorial   #GoneToSoon

tyler

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To My Son's Heroin Dealer

dealersdontcare

To My Son's Heroin Dealer:

I want to explain the desolation and ruin you left behind because of your greed and complete disregard for human life...unless they had money for heroin. You were supposed to be his friend. What does it feel like knowing you were the one who sold my son his fatal dose of heroin? How do you live with yourself?

I remember the doctor telling me I could only touch his face and hair. I couldn't touch the breathing tube they had inserted, I couldn't touch the numerous IVs they had placed trying to save his life. I remember walking into that cold, sterile room to see my son lying on the table, still and quiet. His jeans were cut on his leg because they tried bring him back with Narcan four times at the scene. I remember seeing the blood stains in his teeth and mouth from when they tried to revive him with chest compressions. I remember hearing myself scream and sob until they told me it was time to take him to the morgue. I begged them to let me go with him and stay with him because he didn't like being alone.

In the days that followed, I experienced what no parent should ever have to experience. Ever. I numbly went through the process of selecting a funeral home. I remember sitting there with my friend, who walked out of a meeting and flew half way across the country to help me, and just let him do the talking. I sat there listening to them write the obituary for Ty, discuss a charity, and go over service times . Then came the time to pick out his casket. I had to choose a casket in which my one and only child would be laid to rest forever. After what seemed to be an eternity I chose the metallic silver, the same color as his beloved Charger. You remember that Charger, don't you? You rode in it quite a few times. After we left the funeral home, we had to buy him the last suit he would ever wear. I just stood there in the store helplessly, suffocating from disbelief. I couldn't stop sobbing and knew that people were staring but I didn't care. Nothing mattered anymore.

Many of his friends came to pay their respects to him during calling hours but not you. I was waiting for you. I wanted you to see what you had done. I wanted you to see the agony and insurmountable suffering you inflicted on our family and friends. I wanted you to look at your friend lying in his casket who died because you sold him heroin. Most of all, I wanted you to look me in the face and tell me why you left him there to die alone. But you are a spineless coward. You prey on those who lack street smarts as long as they have money. You are a disease and I will tell everyone who will listen about what happened to my child in hopes to one day put you and your fellow drug dealing associates out of business for good.

- Gretchen Miller-Addison, mother who lost her son Tyler, 21, on November 3rd, 2014 to heroin.

You can read his memorial tribute by clicking here.

 #AskMeAboutMyAngel   #HeroinMemorial   #GoneToSoon

tyler

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I Am Not an Addict and Have Never Done Heroin But it Has Affected My Life in so Many Ways

Paul2

Hello my name is Kelly and I'm not an addict and have never done heroin but it has affected my life in so many ways. I just lost my fiancé August 24th 2015. He was found in a waiting room bathroom at the hospital in Camden, New Jersey (where heroin is a huge epidemic right now). He didn't sign in to be seen he just walked in and asked to use the bathroom. He was clean 90 days. He was doing heroin for a year if that but they let him use the bathroom and didn't even check on him. After 15 minutes finally someone knocked on the door and he didn't answer and then someone got the door opened and found him unresponsive on the floor.

The doctor called his mom and she called me so I raced to the hospital. The hospital actually called his mom back and told her he was dead. I still didn't know I got there and the doctor asked me if I had a picture of him because even though he had his health insurance papers and an envelope with a picture of him on it from the county (they had him as a John Doe) jail. He was out of jail as of that day not even 24 hours but before that he did almost 3 months. After waiting in a room for over 2 hours the doctor came back and said ok so u know he's dead right and I said no I didn't. The doctor said he worked on him for over 40 minutes and nothing helped. It was too late.

So heroin has taken the love of my life away, a father figure to my son, and an amazing person in general. Paul Maluk changed my life in so many ways. Paul is my very first true love and I'll forever be grateful for that (he always will be) and I'm 36yrs old. When the weather breaks I'm planning a walk/run in Paul’s name and set up a scholarship fund in his name for EMT and firefighters who are just starting out. Paul was a lieutenant firefighter, trustee, and an EMT. I will do whatever it takes to raise money in Paul’s name one day.

I recently found out who sold him that one by that day I have his number, and dealer’s text messages. The cops didn't even keep his 2 cell phones to investigate but told me it was an ongoing investigation and I wasn't allowed to see me before they zipped up the body bag.

My younger sister who is my Irish twin is a heroin addict and has been for my years she's in and out of jail for unpaid fines because of stealing to support her habit her life is ruined so heroin has not only took the love of my life but has also taken my sister away from me because we aren't close anymore and every night I pray to God to keep her alive and not take her away from me like heroin took Paul. Heroin has also took my best friend on October 9th, 2015. She was found dead from an overdose in her bed and leaves behind a 4 year old son. So that's how heroin has affected my life and I'm not even an addict. My son who no longer has a stepfather/father figure.

I just keeping picking myself up and fight through this because I know that's what Paul would want. Right now at this point in life I have no reason to smile, be happy, or feel like my old self. After I lost Paul my friends are nowhere to be found and not one has been there for me. I've never felt more alone in my entire life than I do now and heroin is to blame.
So that's my story I'm not an addict and have never done heroin and have no desire to.

- Kelly

Paul Stephen Maluk
DOB: 06/08/1977
DOH: 08/24/2015

Paul1

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Losing a Loved One to a Heroin is a Special Kind of Pain

hateheroinflower

(Image used with permission from www.michaelshope.net)

Grief

We are brought together by the unspeakable, forced into a group no one wants to join. Membership is permanent and there is no escape. Once you join this group (www.HeroinMemorial.org), life as you know it stops. It will never be the same again. Your circumstances have changed and you must find a way to adjust. You were not prepared for this, you feel like you are on a raft in uncharted waters, lost, in the dark and all alone. How do you adjust to the unbearable emptiness , the anger, the fear? How are you supposed to live the rest of your life when a large part of you has died? How do you keep yourself from bursting into tears in the checkout line because of some trigger no one would understand? How do you stop looking to see if he is there waiting for you to get off work? How do you stop checking your phone for messages or texts? There are so many questions...and no answers. We are left to fend for ourselves, tending our wounds that no one sees.

Losing a loved one to a drug is a special kind of pain. We continuously torture ourselves as we sift through each and every decision we have ever made. We carry the overwhelming guilt that we failed. We failed that person we loved so much, now they are dead. And if that isn't enough, society tells us it is our loved ones fault for trying drugs in the first place. Our loved one could quit if they really wanted to stop using. Our loved one is labeled a junkie, a waste. No one witnessed the horrifying effects of detoxing. No one cleaned up the vomit and helplessly listened to the excruciating crying for relief, holding them as muscle spasms took control of their legs, believing heartfelt promises they would never do drugs again.

We go to counseling, we join support groups and we brave a fake smile when someone asks us how we are doing. Inside, we are grasping at any explanation of this travesty that we think will help us feel better. Why did my loved one die when there are such evil people in the world? Why was it my loved one that succumbed to his demons when others go on using for years and years? But deep down inside, we really don't care about the answers, we just want our love back. We would give everything we had including our lives just for five more minutes...
We are the loved ones of those lost to drugs.

- Danielle Suiter - Share Your Addiction Journey! Addiction Awareness

#HeroinMemorial | #GoneToSoon | #AskMeAboutMyAngel

 

We want to thank Michael's HOPE for giving us permisson to use the photograph here which includes one of their wristbands which you can purchase on their website.

Michael's HOPE is an organization that educates, prevents and spreads awareness of the current heroin and opioid epidemic we are facing. We understand it is very important to speak to kids in schools, we have made it our goal to not have to charge schools for our programs. All donations will go into this organization and allow us to spread the awareness to our communities and school districts free of charge, while also hosting Narcan trainings also at no cost.

PAUL MAFFETONE - FOUNDER
Born March 31st 1989, a lifetime resident of Laurel, NY lost his older brother Michael Maffetone to a heroin overdose on February 11th 2012 at the age of 29.  Although Paul has never suffered from addiction himself, after the loss of his best friend, has dedicated his life helping others who are suffering from addiction themselves or suffering from the loss of a loved one to these horrific circumstances.  Spreading awareness and education on the current epidemic and fighting the negative stigma associated with addiction in particular is his greatest passion.

Learn more about them at www.michaelshope.net

 

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We Are the Parents of a Child Lost to Heroin

gretchen funeral

We are brought together by the unspeakable, forced into a group (www.HeroinMemorial.org) no one wants to join. Membership is permanent and there is no escape. Once you join this group, life as you know it stops. It will never be the same again. Your circumstances have changed and you must find a way to adjust. You were not prepared for this, you feel like you are on a raft in uncharted waters, lost, in the dark and all alone. How do you adjust to the unbearable emptiness , the anger, the fear? How are you supposed to live the rest of your life when a large part of you has died? How do you keep yourself from bursting into tears in the checkout line because of some trigger no one would understand? How do you stop looking to see if he is there waiting for you to get off work? How do you stop checking your phone for messages or texts? There are so many questions...and no answers. We are left to fend for ourselves, tending our wounds that no one sees.

MemorialDamageDone

 (Click the image above to share your own memorial tribute on our page)

Losing a child to a drug overdose carries with it a special kind of pain. We continuously torture ourselves as we sift through each and every decision we have ever made as a parent. We carry the overwhelming guilt that we failed as a parent. We failed our child, and now our child is dead. And if that isn't enough, society tells us it is our child's fault for trying drugs in the first place. Our child could quit if they really wanted to stop using. Our child is labeled a junkie, a waste. No one witnessed the horrifying effects of detoxing. No one cleaned up the vomit and helplessly listened to the excruciating crying for relief, holding them as muscle spasms took control of their legs, believing heartfelt promises they would never do heroin again.

We go to counseling, we join support groups and we brave a fake smile when someone asks us how we are doing. Inside, we are grasping at any explanation of this travesty that we think will help us feel better. Why did my child die when there are such evil people in the world? Why was it my child that succumbed to his demons when others go on using for years and years? But deep down inside, we really don't care about the answers, we just want our child back. We would give everything we had including our lives just for five more minutes...

We are the parents of a child lost to heroin.

- Gretchen Miller-Addison, mother who lost her son Tyler, 21, on November 3rd, 2014 to heroin.

You can read his memorial tribute by clicking here.

 #AskMeAboutMyAngel   #HeroinMemorial   #GoneToSoon

tyler

 

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