I am here by default, not desire. I could have lived the rest of my life happily, never knowing the devastating effects of painkillers and heroin. Instead, the photos to the right are what I have left of the beautiful life my son Jameson led. He died at 22 from an accidental heroin overdose. He had the misfortune of purchasing a bad batch of heroin on a night that 13 others also OD’d, but did not die. He was using in his home, with a friend. Evidence at the scene of his death confirms that there was someone using with him, yet he was found alone and unconscious by his roommate. When first responders arrived, (police & ambulance) they were not yet armed with the lifesaving doses of Naloxone. By the time he reached the hospital, where the antidote drug was available, it was too late.
This is why our training is so important. The Good Samaritan Bill offers immunity to those reporting an overdose. It exists to encourage people witnessing an overdose to call 911 and stay with the person until help arrives. We also arm those on the front lines, friends and family of users, with lifesaving doses of Naloxone to take home.
On July, 19, 2013, we lost our son, Jacob Paddy to a heroin overdose.at the age of 23. My life, and my family’s life, was changed forever. We believe that Jacob became addicted to prescription drugs after a bicycle accident when he was in high school. He had to have a plate placed in his foot and was given pain medication (Vicodin) and then (Oxycontin) during his recovery. We had no idea of the power or affect those medications would have on our son. Once Jake had no more pain prescriptions, he began buying them on the street. It took us awhile to realize he had a problem – mood swings, sleeping a lot, not eating, etc. When we confronted him, he denied everything. He began to steal from us. He stole his brother’s play station and pawned it. This wasn’t the boy I raised. That boy was kind and gentle. He would light up a room when he entered. Everyone loved Jacob Paddy.
We are taking registration for the December 3rd Overdose Prevention Training now: http://www.advocatesforadrugfreecalvert.com/contact-us.html
With what little knowledge we had then about drug addiction, we tried everything we knew. We did tough love, more so his dad than me, and there was a short time when we didn’t know where he was sleeping or if he had food and water, was he warm, was he hurt. Going to bed every night not knowing these things was heart breaking. At this time Jake was using pills– nothing harder — but he would snort them, swallow them, probably even break them down and smoke them. Finally Jake admitted he had a problem and agreed to go to rehab. I quit my job so that I could totally focus on helping him get better. He went to the Phoenix House for 30 days of inpatient treatment which was very helpful, but I now know that 30 days is not enough. After that, he received outpatient treatment at Pathways in Annapolis and then lived at a half-way house – which was not a good place for him. He attended AA and NA meetings. The turning point was when he had to spend a few months in the Calvert County jail following an auto accident while driving impaired. Finally, he was home. For the next two years, he continued to live at home and worked steadily for his father as a commercial truck tire technician. Things were going very well. We had our son back. Well, that changed!!
A few months before Jacob died, he wrecked his 4-wheeler (ATV) and had to again have surgery. This time on his shoulder so that he could get back to work sooner than later – his choice. We met with an orthopedic surgeon in Annapolis for his injury and Jake was given Oxycontin for the pain before and after the surgery, even though HE TOLD THE DOCTOR HE WAS AN ADDICT IN RECOVERY. The surgeon said the little bit of time you will be on these won’t hurt you. He must not have known anything about addicts. Jake did make the choice to fill the prescription and we were all very worried about that. Jacob healed well from the surgery and went back to work. But soon we noticed changes in his mood and his weight. We questioned him about it and he assured us that he was fine. About a month before he died, I received a call from someone telling me that Jake was using heroin. I was in shock – not my son – you are nuts! I called Jake and told him that I had received this call and he denied it and became very defensive. Jake was very private about his heroin use and only a few of his friends knew, other than his dealer. My son injected the heroin that killed him, alone, in his home. His father and younger brother, a senior in high school, found him dead in the bathroom on the morning of the 19th. I know other families who have lost their children because they are left to die alone, and it is for them, and the many more that will follow, that I am here today. Our family now has to figure out a new normal way of life without Jacob, if that is even possible – no parent should have to bury their child. We need to change the stigma that addicts are junkies – that is wrong. They are our daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, etc. They have a disease. They are sick and need help and they need not to be ashamed of who they are. We need more treatment centers, and better follow up care. We need to educate parents and kids about addiction. And we need better monitoring of those doctors and dentists who needlessly prescribe narcotics. Please know that I am not ashamed that my son was an addict. I am devastated that we couldn’t get him the right help. And I will fight this fight for the rest of my life in his honor because I am proud to be JACOB PADDY’s mother!
Editor’s Note: Supporters of Advocates of a Drug Free Calvert County are Dr Philip Ragland, CAASA and Middleham and St Peters Parish
Margit Miller / Calvert Beacon