Tag Archives: heroin overdose

Non-addict looking addicts.

Today we heard the tragic news, that the talented actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman had passed away of a heroin overdose.

Another one.

Just as we were getting over the shock of Corey Monteith’s death, another ‘non-addict looking addict’ has overdosed.
Just like Corey, Phillip Seymour Hoffman just didn’t look like a junkie. He just looked so ‘normal,’ and ‘middle-class,’ he had ‘everything.’
There were no train wreck pictures of him or reports of his bad behavior on film sets. He consistently turned out excellent work.
Apart from the recent reports that he had gone into rehab, no one would ever have know that he had been struggling with addiction.
But he was a drug addict and guess what? It is more common for a drug addict to look like him or Corey Monteith, than it is for them to look like the homeless street bum that everyone imagines.

Addicts live amongst us. I hope that doesn’t shock you, but we are capable of being addicted and being pretty high functioning. We are your friends and your neighbors, we have careers and responsibilities, we look just like everyone else.

But we are addicts and we are struggling for lack of treatment, lack of resources and lack of compassion. Treatment doesn’t always work first time, like many diseases repeated, consistent treatment attempts are needed.
Sometimes the disease is stronger. The blackness in our souls demands relief and faulty brain chemistry pulls us towards instant pleasure, until we find a solution that works for us, we will always crave chemically induced oblivion.

I’m listening to the reports on TV as I write this and I keep hearing the same thing, ‘but he was so talented, so in demand, so successful, he had everything.’
Yes, on the outside he did. It’s very common for addicts to be very successful in many areas of their lives. It often looks like we have ‘everything.’
But success isn’t enough; external accomplishments do nothing to heal internal pain or fix our brain chemistry.

More is never enough.

It’s really too early to speculate on the circumstances that lead up to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. The details may come out or we may never know why addiction won and recovery lost this time.
If anything can be learned from this tragic loss, it is the understanding that addiction is alive and well and living next door.
And more, much more needs to be done about it.

Heroin addiction, a mother’s story…

I’ve always wanted this blog to show all sides of addiction, including the stories from those affected by addiction. I’m honored to share with you today Kim’s story. Kim tragically lost her beautiful daughter Kayela to heroin addiction. Here she bravely tells her story.

Addiction doesn’t just affect the person using drugs it affects the whole family. I know because I lived through my daughter Kayela’s addiction to heroin.

We raise our children and its hard work, changing diapers and heating formula and lining up daycare, the first day of school and homework we don’t understand.
We care for them until they are ready to go off in the world and we can only hope that we did the right thing, made all the right choices.
On my daughters 18th birthday I gave her a gold angel wing with a card that I made, it said: ” I give you this wing and its only one wing not two, so you can find your way in life but keep both feet on the ground ”
My daughter is Kayela Faye Ayers and she passed away at the young age of 21.

She was a heroin addict.
I am her mother and this is my story.

Kayela (right) with her mother Kim

Kayela (right) with her mother Kim

If you think raising a child is hard work, then try watching that same child come in the house high or drunk and not being able to do anything to stop it.
Please don’t ever think ” It won’t happen to me ” because addiction can affect anyone. Once they take hold of that child, the same one we took to teacher conferences, that same child who you get that midnight call from the police department saying they have been arrested on drug charges, or a frantic person saying she stopped breathing and they took her to the hospital.

No one can imagine what a parent goes through when they hear these things unless you have been there.
My daughter started using heroin when she was 18, shortly after she went through some personal issues that involved putting a man in jail and then getting a beating because she did so.
That put her in the hospital with a head concussion and blackened eyes.
I pinpoint that moment because that’s when I saw a change in her and it was a violent change.
It’s hard to see these things and feel you can’t do anything about it. She hid it at first and I thought things were going great but deep inside she wasn’t ok. I don’t know how many times I look back and think, “If I only knew then what I know now, would it have mattered?”
I just don’t have that answer.
I spent a lot of nights crying, picturing her dead somewhere.
Kayela was under a Doctors care so I wanted to discuss with the doctor what was happening.
I called the doctor and told her that my daughter was abusing her meds and was using heroin, but the doctor told me she couldn’t discuss it with me. The doctor just kept filling her scripts.
After Kayela died they kept sending me bills for the prescription they had given her.

Kayela eventually agreed to go to Detox, but we could only get her admitted for 3 days and then there was nowhere for her to go after.

There was so much I didn’t know and I was so frightened. Kayela overdosed and her heart stopped, I naively though that would scare her into not using heroin. But I was wrong, she was back using as soon as she was released from hospital.
We tried to get her into rehab but we couldn’t get her a bed or they were too much money.
She became violent and there were many arguments and fights, as she got more and more desperate. My marriage to her stepfather fell apart because of the stress.
She finally got herself in a mess and was pulled over with heroin in her car and was arrested. She spent time in jail and upon release had to go to a halfway house. I think I slept more during that time then I had in so long, things were looking great and she was doing really well.
She was homesick and during her stay I bought a place for us to live for when she got out.
I painted and put carpet in her room to make it look the best I could. We were both excited.
Around April of 2012 she was able to come home but was on probation and had to attend AA every day. I often went to meetings with her.
Then she began to push me away again and began lashing out in anger. I tried to help her but she says I was nagging her and I needed to trust her. My head would spin because I wanted to trust her but part of me just couldn’t. I was always looking around her room and checking for signs of her using.
She wanted to go back to school, which I was really happy about. She was a smart girl so I wanted to do everything I could to help her. We got new clothes and school supplies, she seemed really happy.

One day I had to drive her to a store to return some clothing that didn’t fit.
It was only $25 and she said it was too small.
She came home and it was a quiet evening. I was watching TV with her sister and Kayela was upstairs sorting out her new stuff.
For some reason Kayela’s sister said I should check on her before I went to bed
I was always told to announce myself as I go upstairs so I called out ‘I’m coming up.’ Her light was on and as my head peaked over the top railing I saw her face down on the floor.
I screamed her name but she did not move. I ran over to her and when I felt her skin she was cold I yelled to her sister to call 911 “I think your sisters dead.” Her touch was cold and the color in her hand was grey.

The operator was asking me to do CPR but I didn’t know how to and I was scared I would hurt her. A couple of minutes passed and I heard sirens coming down the street. The next thing I knew the paramedics were there and they worked on her for over an hour. They took her to the hospital where they worked on her for another hour.
But she was gone.
In my gut I knew she was gone when I first found her face down in her bedroom.
I don’t remember much after that, it was a blur.
I blamed myself; I went through everything trying to think what I could have done differently, how I could have helped her.
Kayela’s addiction affected everyone, when she died a piece of me died with her that day.
You never get over loosing a child.
The only way I could live with the pain of loosing her was to try and help prevent other addicts suffering the same fate.

Kayela (right)

Kayela (right)

I tell my story wherever I can and took classes to become a Recovery Coach.
I don’t want anyone else to have to live with what I’m going through, the only way through this pain is to help others.
I miss Kayela every day; no mother should ever have to go through this. Yet drugs take more and more children everyday and we are still not doing enough to stop it.
Goodbye my beautiful angel.

Why did Corey Monteith die?

I’m sitting in a room with eight other people, we are all gathered in a circle. Our attention is on a young man; he is in his late twenties. He is dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, the latest pair of sneakers on his feet. He is crouched over with his head in his hands, unable to look at anyone else.

“I know,” he says, “I know you’re right. I have no idea why I do it, I just thought one last time would be ok.”
Seven other addicts and alcoholics nod their heads.
“You have everything to live for buddy,” one of them says.
“You have your whole life ahead of you,” says another.
He looks up, his face a mixture of despair and confusion, “I know,” he repeats softly to himself, “I know, it’s insane.’

And he really means it. He has everything he has ever wanted and yet he still uses drugs and alcohol because nothing else has filled the hole inside of him.
To an outsider it would look insane.
To an addict it’s the only thing that makes sense.

Addiction doesn’t care if you have a promising future, a good family, a great job. It doesn’t care that you have a beautiful and talented girlfriend or millions of fans around the world.
It wants you, and it wants you now.
Which is why it is telling you, that one more time won’t hurt.

And this is why Corey Monteith died.
Because he lied to himself that one more wouldn’t hurt.

He died of a lethal mix of alcohol and heroin, alone in his hotel room.
With the world at his feet.

There are so many Corey Monteith’s all over the world. Some may be lucky enough to get a shot at some kind of treatment. Some of those may be even luckier and get clean and sober and some of them may even be lucky enough to stay so.

But not Cory Monteith, he had his shot at treatment, but still thought one more would be ok.

Cory Monteith’s death wasn’t just shocking because he was young, what shocked most people is that he died of a heroin overdose.
Because he just didn’t look like your average junkie.
He was 31 years old playing someone who had just graduated high school, the epitome of the good looking, clean cut Midwestern kid. Someone you would take home to your parents.

The image people have of a heroin addict is someone homeless, with bad teeth, dirty clothes and a gaunt face. Corey Monteith was the complete opposite of that. The reason that heroin addicts can often look so ravaged is because of the side effects of the taking the drug, rather than the drug itself.
Having money makes addiction a lot easier and the consequences much less severe.
Which is why he could fool everyone. He didn’t fit the stereotype.

So despite ‘having it all’ on a night out he decided to do something insane.
Take heroin alone.
He took the hit and never woke up.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unless you deal with the real underlying reasons of addiction, for every addict there will always be a call for ‘just one more.’
The insane idea will always win out.
Addicts use drugs and alcohol beyond any sane understanding.
Drugs and alcohol promise oblivion, numbness and escape. They kill pain and wrap the user up in cotton wool so they don’t have to feel anything.
Behind his Midwestern, clean cut good looks Cory Monteith was hiding a darkness, that only drugs could fill.

I wonder if he battled, I wonder if he argued with himself. I wonder if he remembered sitting in treatment with his head in his hands as he faced up to the reality of his addiction.
I wonder if he knew he had crossed over to the place where the insanity of using seemed like the right thing to do.

I guess we’ll never know.