Chris's Cause

I've been working in the field of social work for  close to 10 years and during this time, my younger brother was an addict the whole time...and I wasn't fully aware. Shame on me. 

I knew something wasn't right and I knew he experimented with drugs, but when I found out he was a heroin addict..I was in shock. At this time he was 23 and I was 25. We lived with our parents in a middle class town where this "never" happened...or did it..does it? Yes, it does. It is running rampant in middle class towns and families/society are brushing it under the rug. They are choosing to "handle it within the family," like mine did... Chris never went to treatment as a child. 

In retrospect, everything is so clear and I get it. His underlying mental health issues and predispoitsion to substance use (my dad was an addict) was enough to spiral him out of control. Substance use is a family disease..I know that from my books, but mostly from my expierence. We went through it all...stealing, lying, disapperaing, arrests, treatment, manipulation, overdoses, sadness, guilt, shame, powerlessness, and constant fear of the "call."

Chris overdosed twice during his earlier years and was revived both times. On November 12, 2013, he overdosed alone in his bedroom and he was gone..just like that. I spent the previous evening laughing with him and my husband.  At 7:28am, I woke up on a tuesday morning and the fear set in. I knew in my gut that the "call" was coming that day. How did I know? Intuition.  I was under the impression that he had been clean for some time, but the "monster" took over that night and then he was gone.  

I burried myself in work for the past year and a half, but recently I decided it was time. Time to face this "monster." About time..especially since I see him everyday at work sitting in those chairs..I see his face in my clients. They don't want to be addicts. They don't want to live this horrible life. 

I am working on many ideas to support those with addiction and their familes along with those who have lost loved ones to this terrible disease. YES, I said is a DISEASE.  Just like the rest of the diseases out there...NO ONE asks for it, so let's face the shame and break the stigma.

This is the beginning stages of raising money and awareness to fight this battle.  I plan to educate people on the signs/symptoms of overdose and to provide them with life saving tools like NARCAN.  I am in the process of initiating groups to educate and treat the addiction as well as support the grief and loss process that so many of us struggle to get through. I also hope to identify and financially support someone who cannot afford the treatment they need.

Aug 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. Stay tuned for info on upcoming events.



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Shalyn Rose 
New Haven, CT
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