My intelligent, funny, sweet, musically talented, loving nephew would have been 43 years old today. I was there when he was born in 1975 in South Carolina. Never would I have thought that he wouldn't be celebrating his 42nd birthday. He died shortly before his birthday last year. That's him pictured above between my parents, in Newberry, Michigan.
We have a national epidemic of drug abuse. It's so prevalent that even Guideposts Magazine has begun carrying a feature article in each issue. One year ago I lost my beloved nephew to this scourge. It still doesn't seem quite real, but I'm beginning to accept his loss. We'd already had him stolen many years earlier by the drugs. Who he was was slowly, inexorably, eaten away. The sweet boy he'd been (I had custody of him for two years and also spent a lot of his childhood spending time with him) had been taken over by a foul-mouthed self-absorbed drug addict who cared more for his "mistress" of drugs than in taking care of his wife and children.
What can we do about it? Praying for our loved ones who are drug or alcohol dependent is sometimes all we can do. And both they and we will need all those prayers to get us through. The first call about a loved one having overdosed (whether accidental or deliberately) is that first horrific wake up call that we might be facing a devastating loss.
If you have friends who have gone through this, don't judge or hand out platitudes -- they aren't helpful. Instead, lend a shoulder to cry on and listen. Sadly, there are many many people who have gone down this road before you. They understand.
Don't blame yourself or other people. That's also not only unhelpful but harmful. The addict, herself or himself, has made these decisions. Sometimes there is someone involved, such as in criminal cases where someone has done something to bring on the overdose -- I'm not talking about those times. I mean when someone has gone into rehab, gotten treatment, over and over again, etc., and hasn't followed through on the bottom line thing they need to do. We make choices. I believe that the devil is all over our nation's addiction crisis. Satan lies, deceives, and cheats.
As a nation we need to rise up and fight back and help those with addictions. Jail isn't the answer (although that was where my nephew could stay clean). But neither is a rehabilitation setting where the individual can leave voluntary. And keep loving those with an addiction. Love can conquer many things. But don't be a co-dependent, either. Get help for yourself if you're living in a co-dependent situation or have a loved one whose dependency is impacting your life.
Prayer: God, lift our nation up and deliver us from deadly addictions. Bind the enemy. Breathe your peace into homes affected by loss from drug and alcohol dependency. In Jesus' precious name, Amen.
Giveaway: A devotional book to one of my commenters.