Don’t be ashamed of loved one’s opioid addiction

I’m sitting in my restaurant not long after my son Tony Luke III dies, and an elderly gentleman comes in and he says to me: “Hey, Tony, I heard your son passed away. I just want to tell you how incredibly sorry I am.”

“Well thank you. I appreciate it.”

“Do you mind if I asked you how he died? Did he have cancer, was he … ”

“No,” I said, “he died of a heroin overdose.”

“Damn it, these kids, the choices they make.”

I didn’t get upset with him. I just thought: “Wow. This is the view. This is why no one talks about it.”

Responsibility vs. addiction

Yes, my son was absolutely responsible for his actions. But when there’s an addiction — and I believe it’s a disease — those are not the actions, the choices, of a rational, thinking person. Those are the actions of people who are in absolute survival mode.

When that survival mode kicks in, when it’s live or die, take the pain away or don’t take the pain away, you’re scared to death, and you’ll trample over people to get what you need.

Every day I saw my son, he had the look of being ashamed, as if he were losing, as if he were weak. Because that’s what he hears. You’re weak. A strong person could get out of this.

Tony had fallen into partying when he was young. Marijuana, pills. That was their version of alcohol. You never think it’s going to lead to anything more.

But he was always athletic and he was a wrestler in school. When he got into a car accident and hurt his back, the doctors put him on Percocets. But one wasn’t enough to take the pain away, so he’s taking two, three, four. But he…

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