You never thing opioid addiction could happen to you. The truth is, it can happen to anyone no matter where you live, who you are, how much money you make, or how educated you are. Here is one woman’s account of how opioid addiction tore her family apart.

The Opioid Addiction I Never Saw Coming

Growing up there were three of us. Ricky, my oldest brother, Tommy, the middle child, and I was the token little sister, Always hanging out with my brothers, I was a tom boy running around with the guys instead of paying attention to girly things. We grew up in Southern California where surfing was a way of life, so we were constantly outdoors playing in our own personal playground, otherwise known as the ocean.

In a nutshell, we were the quintessential California family. Sunny, healthy, outdoorsy, and no major problems. That is, until Ricky’s back surgery. When Ricky graduated from college, he had been complaining of lower back pain for quite some time. He went to the doctor who gave him a script for Physical Therapy and also percocets. We never gave the script any special attention because it wasn’t like drug issues ran in our family. His doctor certainly didn’t warn him about the dangers of opioid addiction.

I wish we had seen the problem when it was just starting, because we may have been able to save Ricky’s life. However, about six months had gone by and Ricky starting coming home less and less. It was Christmas time when he finally came home and brought his new girlfriend who did nothing but give all of us a bad feeling. He himself looked gaunt, with bags under his eyes. I remember distinctly he had nothing to eat, and he claimed he hadn’t been feeling well.

A month passed, and he called my brother asking for money. By this time, we all had a bad feeling something was going on. My brother decided to pay him a visit and Ricky ended up telling him that he got hooked on his pain pills, so much so that when they ran out he turner to heroin. Hi girlfriend was also a heroin user, and they were shooting up regularly. He cried to my brother and told him he was going to stop. He made my brother swear he wouldn’t tell any of us, and Tommy obliged.

The next few weeks were a blur. I remember calling Ricky and his girlfriend picking up sounding so strange. She would tell me he wasn’t available over and over. This scared me because Ricky had always been my protective older brother and would never ignore a text or call from me. I thought that maybe the girlfriend was too controlling. In retrospect, I should have paid him a visit.

My brothers had been in contact every few days. A week went by that they didn’t talk, and Tommy went to go check on him. He found Ricky unresponsive in his bed, he had been that way for a few days. His girlfriend, who none of us knew any details about, was long gone. Ricky was dead.

After Ricky’s opioid addiction, my family was never the same. Everything is tainted, and all we can think of is the “what ifs” and “should haves”. My message to anyone who thinks opioid addiction is affecting someone they love is that they practice tough love and be more insistent that the person get help. If we have all known and taken a stance, we could have been a strong enough family to keep Ricky alive.

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