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I’m Seeking Justice for My Son

Drinking alone man bottle

esta4 has addressed a comment to the Allies in Recovery community, sharing the terrible news of her son's passing, as well as information about her current mission:

"Dear Members of Allies,

I would be remiss if I didn't say that Dominique has been a great help during the last three years as we watched our son's life fall apart due to alcoholism with some drug use, mainly pot. Sadly, our son passed away in April just two weeks after he tried to return to the program he has been in and was told he had to start from the beginning. He had gone days at a time without drinking and had decided it was time to turn his life around and get the help he needed. When he realized it would take weeks to return to the program, he got drunk on ethanol extract which he purchased easily over the internet. Ethanol extract is easy to get; any computer-savvy teen can acquire this 150 proof alcohol. The label says not for human consumption and may cause organ damage if consumed. We now know that this was not the first time he had consumed ethanol extract which is currently not regulated and is shipped through the U.S. Mail.

We found him drunk because he missed an appointment. The next day he contacted a private therapist and made two appointments. One was March 30th and the other was April 5th. He was finally making a commitment without being pushed. I give you these details because on April 3rd we found him in his apartment laying on his floor begging us to help him. We called an ambulance and sent his most recent purchase of ethanol extract along with him. He died on April 6th of methanol poisoning. The ethanol had been contaminated with methanol. His symptoms were not recognized until it was too late to give him the antidote because methanol poisoning is not common or is not recognized.

There is currently a federal investigation and the manufacturer of that brand of ethanol extract has been closed. The FDA recalled all of that brand. I tell you all of this because the product is still available from other companies, and I believe my son is not the only alcoholic to do this. I have devoted many hours to providing information to the government in the hopes that some day this product will be regulated, and no other mother will lose her son this way. Before my purpose in life was to help him find his way; now my purpose is to educate others and find justice for my son."

How devastating to hear about your son. I am so sorry. The fight to overcome addiction is traitorous. Along with the dangers of tainted ethanol poisoning, which few know about, your account details the grips that addiction had on your son. He tried repeatedly. Your account highlights the desperation, the efforts to reach out for help, the ambiguity when the available treatment wasn’t right or wasn’t immediate.

The pain of finding your son. It is hard to even think of what you went through.

While the experts, politicians, and funders argue over which program should be funded and who shall pay for it, I ask all of us to fight for one solution: treatment on demand. CRAFT was designed for the person struggling with addiction who is resistant to treatment (the studies suggest that 50% of people with SUD are resistant to getting help). After 15 years of working with CRAFT, I can say without a doubt that resistance to seeking treatment is actually much lower. The problem is lining up the right help at the moment the person is ready to receive it.

Imagine one large door behind which every conceivable treatment is available 24/7: harm reduction (needle exchange, safe injection sites), talk therapy, MAT, a safe bed, a place of worship, self-help meetings of every flavor, emergency overdose prevention, medical and mental health treatment, exercise, meditation, and on and on. If what is needed wasn’t available on-site, a navigator would get the person to the program. The family would be welcome and would be offered someone to talk to who was trained in CRAFT. No paperwork, no waiting for pre-authorization or call backs. Transportation and child care would be available.

Can we build such a place? Can we treat people when they are ready to be treated, not when there happens to be a slot open? As this site attests, over and over, treatment is not lining up with motivation. Delays are too common. We will prevent tragedy when we have treatment on demand.

From everyone who works on the Allies in Recovery team, our sincere thanks for writing in and our deepest condolences to your family.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Dear esta4:

    Please accept my heartfelt sorrow on the loss of your dear son. This is the thing we all fear most as we struggle to help our loved ones by trying to navigate an imperfect system. We have come up against all of the roadblocks that you experienced trying to get your son the help he needed when he needed it.

    Your email will continue to encourage me to ACT, whenever and wherever I can on behalf of my son.

    May God bless you and your family.


  2. Thank you for the feedback. One of my goals as I work through this is to address the treatment situation. In December, he was hospitalized, and we met with the crisis management team and determined that he needed a bed in a rehab facility. While they were searching, my son was released by a doctor who had never met him before. The doctor told the crisis management team that he was okay and stop the search based on a 5 minute meeting with my son. To me that was the critical turning point in my son’s life. I sent a letter to the hospital but was told basically that the doctor was always right. Do I dare say the name of the hospital? I sure would like to because with five different experiences there involving my son’s problems I would sincerely recommend that no one use that hospital for behavioral health/addiction issues. ESTA4 (now minus the T)

    1. Dear ESTA4: You are in Massachusetts. Here is the complaint line:

      ♦ How to Reach the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services

      Complaint line: 617.624.5171 fax: 617.624.5599 (secure line and fax)

      Let us know if this works. If it doesn’t we will weigh the possibility of posting the hospital and doctor’s name.

  3. This is a devastating story. Esta4, I am so very sorry that you have lost your son. Thank you for continuing your efforts on behalf of all the other addicted loved ones out there. Dominique, thank you for sharing the dream of treatment on demand. My daughter is finally nearing some treatment but the path has been much too slow and as a result she has failed to actually get there time and time again. Whenever she was ready, there was a delay and now, after 6 weeks and several “relapses” later, she went to a meeting yesterday where a team of people worked with her and are devising a plan for her. Today she will find out what the plan is and I pray she will grab on to it and dig in for the challenges ahead.
    Again, I am so sorry esta4. I heard your story and I am even more committed to being a source of support and advocacy for my daughter.

    1. I am also sorry for your situation and know it only too well. I often felt like an overbearing parent while trying to advocate for my adult son, but he once said to me in a moment of my frustration, “Don’t give up on me, Mom, because, if you do, I will give up on myself.” Even now, as the tears flow, I still won’t give up, but the fight has changed.