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December 30, 2018

Taking care of addicts made me angry. Then my step-daughter died from an overdose.

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By an anonymous nurse from Show Me Your Stethoscope

A member posted recently about being burned out from dealing with overdose patients, lacking empathy and compassion to care for them. I’d like to share with you that I felt that way too. It used to make me angry to have to take care of yet another overdose. Well, my focus and attitude has shifted since then. My stepdaughter died at the age of 26 on January 2, 2018 from an overdose. It was the call we knew was coming but yet still could not prepare for. We’d seen the exaggerated weightloss, scars on her once gorgeous face, track marks or her arms. We had prayed, counseled, begged, cried, pleaded, threatened, paid for counseling, paid for suboxone, paid for her food and living expenses while she sold her food stamp allotment, sold her body, and became more and more alienated from her 6 year old daughter and us. I’m angry and heartbroken. My family is broken. However, she didn’t choose this life. She was once a curly headed newborn angel, a silly toddler, a precocious little girl who loved to dance and perform. She was quite the artist and had an eye for trends and fashion. She was a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. She wanted to be and do more in life…and then it all fell apart. I don’t know why she made the initial decision to try drugs, except the loss of her grandfather changed her. It altered who she was. It’s not an excuse but the fact that surrounded her first use. I realize she made a choice to try drugs. However, she wasn’t able to control it. The addiction controlled her. Her addiction made her into someone we no longer knew or recognized and no matter how much we loved her, wanted her, begged her, prayed for her….we were helpless to make it stop and unable to shelter and protect her. She left this world with a needle in her arm in a house full of addicts who didn’t even know her name. Our family will never recover from her absence. She wasn’t raised this way. She wasn’t exposed to a life of drugs. She was loved, wanted, encouraged, supported. So to answer on the empathy/compassion piece….I do understand your frustration because I feel it too. It’s senseless, it’s reckless, it’s dangerous and it’s a gamble on their parts. But if you cannot find compassion for the addict, I’m not judging you. It is impossibly difficult and exhausting. I would encourage you though to try to find it for us…the family who has exhausted all measures and spent countless thousands of dollars to save our addict, to rehab them, and who mourn the person we once knew before drugs.


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