The Things I Wish I’d Said…
In an Instant
This afternoon at work, I found myself staring at the date. 18 July…. 18 July… 18 July…. and then all at once, the significance of the this date hit me. Ten years ago today I woke up to find that my world had been irrevocably changed.
Ten years ago today, I lost my best friend in a tragic accident. Ten years ago today, one single bad decision upended so many lives. He died of an accidental overdose of painkillers and nerve pills. The days and years that followed left me feeling guilty and full of regrets that I am not sure I have been able to put to rest even now, ten years later. This one night would be come the single most defining moment of my youth.
It can happen to anyone….
I’ll never forget being in high school, sitting in an assembly with C. It was one of those “after school special” type events about the dangers of this new and highly dangerous drug. Oxycontin. None of us had ever heard of it. We watched the overly-dramatic scene play out, and in typical high school fashion, we laughed it off. It couldn’t happen to us. No one in our group was dumb enough to do something like that.
Then, flash forward a few years. I am nineteen and he is twenty. We hung out together every day. We played guitar together. We drank on the weekends. Typical freshman-in-college stuff. I watched him be enveloped by depression after a rough breakup. I thought it was the typical “getting over it” blues and no one thought to say anything. I think everyone in my group saw C spiraling out of control, but none of us said anything about it. Why? I think my personal reason for keeping my mouth shut was because I didn’t want him to be mad at me. I was already viewed as the Polly-Anna of the group and the thought of ratting him out to his parents or his pastor just seemed like…. treason.
And then, on the morning of July 18 2006, everyone at the party woke up with a massive hangover… everyone but C.
A Public Health Crisis
For the rest of us, it was just supposed to be a harmless night of underage college drinking. For C, it was one last chance to dull the pain. I think I had known deep down that C had an opioid painkiller problem, but I didn’t want to admit it. The fact is, this is a growing epidemic in this country. The addiction and death rate is staggering. This is a public health crisis. According to the ASAM, “Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014.”
I wish every day I had said something. I am haunted every day by the words I didn’t say. If you know someone who is struggling, please don’t wait until it is too late to speak up. I wish I hadn’t.
Please visit SAMHSA or Recovery.org for information on how to get help and crisis hotline numbers