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Another Life Lost to Substance Abuse

Jan 07, 2012 - 5 comments

I find myself on an emotional rollercoaster today.  Early this morning I learned that a long-time acquaintance of mine passed away yesterday afternoon of cancer.  His esophageal and liver cancer were a direct result of a lifetime of drinking and drug abuse.  It took almost 35 years, two rounds of rehab, multiple bouts of alcoholic hepatitis and pancreatitis, a major heart attack and a destroyed marriage for him to want sobriety.  For the past few years that he's been sober, all the miracles of sobriety happened for him.  The bomb hit with his diagnosis 14 months ago.

The one saving grace in his death is that he had time to truly live a life of sobriety and enjoy all the blessings from it.  He made the most it even while enduring the months of chemo.  While they did not formally remarry, his relationship with his wife was restored and better than ever and she has been by his side throughout his recovery, final illness and death.  I thank God they were both able to enjoy each other sober before he was called home.

Through a series of recent and unusual events, I will be helping out a very old (established 1879) and very small Methodist church choir in our area this Sunday.  Turns out it was the childhood church home of my old friend and his family were lifelong members there.  His wife is understandably overwhelmed and when I asked her if I remembered his connection to this church correctly, everything fell into place.  Yes, it's the same church and she wants that pastor to officiate his service.  She hasn't been able to even think about finding an officiant yet and I'm so grateful that this one fell into her hands right when she needed it.  I believe I detect the hand of God at work here.  Call it a happy coincidence if you like; both of us see it as the work of God.

Yet another thing happened this morning that added to the surreal feeling of this day.  A friend here at Med Help with whom I have communicated for quite some time - is it two years now? - was instrumental in getting me to see that my way of dealing with my husband's addiction wasn't working.  He's a recovering addict himself and bent over backwards to get me information on one of the best rehab facilities in the country that just happens to be 20 minutes away from my house.  When I finally had enough, I knew exactly who to call and where to go.  No fumbling around on the phone and internet in the middle of a crisis situation.  Without the support and knowledge I gained from his friendship we would probably still be lost in a sea of addiction, enabling, anger, fear, guilt, frustration and darkness.

My husband and I were at our weekly aftercare meeting this morning and among the 200+ bodies packed into the initial staging area, right there in front of me appeared my old Med Help friend.  He hasn't been around here much and I knew he was struggling with some major life upheavals.  I was very much afraid he was talking himself into a relapse and yes, he relapsed.   BUT - he checked himself back in for treatment.  I'm so proud of him!  It takes real courage not only to do that once but to admit that you need more help and voluntarily go back for it tells me he desperately wants sobriety.  So C-, if you have internet access and are reading this message, we got your back!

God works in mysterious ways.  I feel blessed to be able to recognize it now.

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by dominosarah, Jan 07, 2012
I am so sorry to hear about your loss Jaybay.  I am also very grateful he lived a life of sobriety before his death.  We also just learned of a former classmate passed away yesterday morning from a drug overdose.  He was 43.  This addiction is brutal and nasty and at the same time recovery is so rewarding and fullfilling.

You have come so far my friend.  The serenity you feel now is so powerful~~

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by Jaybay, Jan 07, 2012
Thanks Sara.  It's easy to be serene when you FINALLY realize you're not the one in control and never were.  I look back at all the unnecessary stress I put on myself and think, "You stupid AZZ!  WTH didn't you listen to Sara from day one?!"  :-D

I look at all the partying that young people do these days thinking it's normal behavior and I feel so sorry for them.  I think to myself, "Look at all the little addicts and alcoholics in the making.  I hope they survive it."  Nobody ever seems to want to believe that substance abuse kills.  Sure, they might have a half-arsed idea that an overdose can be fatal, but doesn't that always happen to the other guy?  Isn't there always a doctor around to revive me so I can go right back to partying?

I can't get the "boiling frogs" analogy of addiction out of my head.  The real physical damage happens so slowly that it's easy to think, "I can handle it."  Next thing you know they're in a life-threatening situation and don't understand what happened to make them so sick so suddenly.  Just like boiling frogs.  They don't know they're cooking until it's too late for escape.

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by davski, Jan 07, 2012
Hey...even life under the influence is "part of life". A person doesn't know what hell is until they've sailed the River Styx. I'm done with this "legal dope" scene in fact I'm right fed up and I don't miss it. The mind is very powerful if you allow it to be. One day everyone gets fed up and's time to quit. It just isn't fun anymore.

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by ginger899, Mar 07, 2012
I've only just seen this journal. I'm very sorry about the loss of your friend Jaybay. And thank God you had support from a friend here with really good practical results!
You're right, God does move in mysterious ways, but it's things like this that help us to see there IS a pattern sometimes, and help comes exactly when it's needed.

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by rpooo, Sep 06, 2012
Jaybay you are an amazing woman, You have been through so much yet you never give up. You are so strong and continue to share your experiences to help others. You make helping others seem so easy. God is wonderful, though I don't always understand why things have to happen a certain way I just wait longer and the answer finally comes to me. Everything for a reason. Eventually you can see the good in it no matter how bad it may seem. For me it took cirrhosis to get me to stop drinking, now just like your friend I see life through sober eyes and can't believe all the wonderful things I almost missed out on. I guess I can't really say that cirrhosis is the worst thing to have happen to me, I perfer it over the life I had for the last 20+ years. Thanks for being the wonderful person you are and I am sincerly sorry about the loss of your dear friend. Also just like Ginger I am late with my response but I just wanted you to know these things. Take care and God bless you and your husband!


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