Stop Punishing Our Kids Who Want Recovery. We Need Change Now!

I am a mother.

That’s what I have poured my entire adult life into. My goal was to raise my children to not just survive in this sometimes ugly world but to experience the beauty of life and to ultimately give back, making a better place for others. I spent my life preparing my children for life, but I never prepared myself for the day I lost my second son to an overdose.

Josh had overdosed several times and been in several rehabs. He wanted to be able to beat this. He always did great in the rehab but shortly after release we would lose him. There was rarely any after care or transitional piece. He had been charged several times after overdosing causing him to be stuck in a broken system and stuck in our county where there was no help. After his last over dose that he lived through he went immediately to a rehab a couple hours away but still in our state. He was on probation from a previous overdose so I called his public defender, P.O. and let them know exactly where he was.

During his time at this rehab the counselor sent the court weekly reports and drove him to court fo all appearances. Josh was doing great. He had transitioned into the sober living part of the rehab and got a job. My insurance was paying for the IOP portion and he was working and paying rent for the housing portion. It was at this point in his recovery that we would usually lose him, but not this time. He looked the best he had looked since going down this ugly path , and had the longest recovery time. He had told me how hard it was for him to be in this areas, he said even just driving through to go to court triggered so much, he didn’t know if he was strong enough if he came alone.

The courts finally made a ruling and the court system was not allowing him to remain at the healthy, sober environment he was doing so well in. His case was being transferred to a different part of the court and he was to come back to his hometown and do the county rehab program. So instead of allowing him to continue at a successful program not funded by the taxpayers but by his family insurance and himself he was forced to quit his job and find residence here in our county so that he could start all over with a program completely funded by the taxpayers because he was on probation when he overdosed. All of his charges being from an overdose.

He left the treatment center and within 48 hours of being here he was using. I asked the P.O. later why the courts would pull him out of a successful environment to make him do a county program and she said it’s just easier to keep track of them in our county. Josh left the area a few weeks after he started using. When he came and said goodbye to me he said “mom I just can’t hurt you anymore, and when I’m close to you and using I take advantage and I don’t want to do that to you.I can’t do that to you again. I don’t want my sibling to see me like this again, I’ll get better and come back.” That was the last day I saw him in person.

He never found sobriety after that, he never went to another rehab. I can’t say for sure what would have happened in my sons future had he been able to stay where he was but I do know that the court system forced my son out of the longest successful sober environment he had ever been in resulting in him using again and in the end overdosing. What is wrong with our system that when someone finally finds success who’s is so very hard to do that they are forced into a community program. It doesn’t make any sense and it is not right.

Josh was kind, and loving. There’s no doubt in my mind how much he loved me or his siblings, but love was not enough to save him. I blame partly our screwed up court system for his death. He was so proud of himself when he got that job, he looked so healthy. His P.O. knew it, his public defender knew it, but it wasn’t enough.

One of his brothers said after he died “I never needed to forgive you because I knew the real you for years before the darkness consumed your happiness and stole my best and closest friend. Not many knew the real josh from the days he didn’t need a crutch, or any drugs, but when we could smile, laugh, and dance along to happiness-life’s greatest song. Your closest friends and family they get to remember the real you before you turned down the dark path of addiction, and time will never take that from us. You showed me the light, and right from wrong while you were here and I will never let the demons consume my memories of you. Sadly, we lost you many day before you were laid to rest. Words can not describe how much you are loved and missed.”

I think he spoke for all of us, only being 18 he put into words what I could not. So much change needs to happen, Josh was winning his battle at least for a time and he may still have been in recovery right now if our court system had not of forced him out of something that was finally working. How many others is this happening to? I hope change comes soon!