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Girl passed out on floor Father looking on
Illustration © Eleanor Davis

Allies in Recovery member Jezabelle has been dealing with her son's recent overdose:

"my son has been sectioned for 30 day and at the end of his stay I broke down and took him home. He didnt want to go to a half way house. Now he has been home for a little more than a month and he has shown signs of using again This last time I heard a big thud in his room and ignored it cause he is always making sounds and moving things But i heard a moan I went to check him and he was unresponsive to me shaking him I immediately called 911 The fire dep. came and gave him the Narcon He came out of it and we took him to hosp. It didnt even phase him.. He said i should have let him SLEEP it off Are you kidding me I told him you could have been dead!!! He told me not to section him and he to go get help cause he doesnt do it everyday just a coupe of times a week so he isnt addicted I dont know what to do or how to help him Please I need advice ASAP"

Your son overdosed at home, a nightmare come true. The paramedics were able to revive him with Narcan.

A couple points:

First, the opioids are getting much stronger. Fentanyl, which, incredibly, is many times stronger that heroin, is now responsible for 70% of all overdose deaths in Massachusetts. The likelihood of overdose is increasing.

Families must have Narcan at-the-ready. The state legislature recently passed a law which allows a pharmacist dispensing Narcan to bill your insurance company. You don't have to mention your Loved One. All pharmacies in Massachusetts have a standing order to provide you 2 doses of Narcan. You do not need a prescription. If a pharmacy is unaware of this, or is out of stock, go to another pharmacy. To sum up, you can walk into any pharmacy in Massachusetts and buy 2 doses of Narcan and have the cost put onto your insurance.

The number of Narcan prescriptions being filled across the state is alarmingly low. A pharmacist in Waymouth told me that over a month in his town, there were only about 10 prescriptions filled. Everyone should be walking around with Narcan.

It can take 2-3 applications of Narcan to revive someone who has overdosed on Fentanyl.

Narcan is something you can do.

Your son's reaction upon being revived with Narcan is typical –“you ruined my high.” As a family member this can be outrageous to hear. But be prepared, talking to your Loved One in this moment may not work. They are withdrawing, in CRAFT terms this is a moment of use (use is defined as preparing to use, being high, or withdrawing): so step away, allow natural consequences. It's not a moment to tell them things will be all right or to raise the comfort level in any way.

Your son says he is dabbling and not using everyday. You'll be hardpressed to know whether it is everyday or not, as he says, but it doesn't matter. Pull together the treatment resources, fill out the forms for sectioning, and be ready to intervene when your son appears relatively sober, calm, and you can talk to him calmly. Module 8 and other posts on this discussion blog describe the process in more detail (search by topic, example: "intervention" or "talking about treatment" along the righthand side of this page).

It is hard to imagine living with the fear of overdose with someone you love. Being as prepared as you can be will hopefully provide some relief.



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. My son is 23 and was addicted to heroin or fetanal. He OD’d twice but it didnt scare him. He went on suboxone but eventually before going back to clinic for his script he would use again. I have no idea what he used but he was on drugs. He was selling the suboxone to make a few bucks even though he has a job. Every paycheck he has it for a day then is borrowing money from me. He lies about everything. I take him to work everyday and he lives with me and my boyfriend of 4 yrs. My life isn’t my own anymore and I wish everyday for my death. The pressure and unhappiness he brings here is too much. I’ve had him sectioned before and he said it was horrible and dirty and he was cold and hungry all the time. People tell me to throw him out but I love him and he has no one else because we moved here 3yrs ago from where he originally was brought up. He has a job but I don’t know for how long. Says he hates me, tells me to go f* myself and a whole lot more. Now he has no suboxone because he missed his Dr’s appointment and she won’t be in for another week. I called to see if they cold give him some till she comes back and they said no. He is DOPE sick cause he can’t sleep and his legs bother him. I am running out of money and I don’t care about myself anymore. My relationship with my boyfriend has almost deteriorated. I need him to go but the question is WHERE???? I hate and love him at the same time. Any advice would help if not it was just a place to vent but to be honest I see me in hospital because it’s taking its toll. Why can i just not feel for him anymore. His disrespect and hate for me is growing.

    1. Dear Jezabelle, although I am sure you will need expert information beyond what I could offer…I would just like to say, I have been there. I know what it is to have all the walls closing in at once as the floor dropping out. I had to remind myself to breathe. I also worked to not get pulled into the ugliness of arguments and insults because believe it or not, it isn’t personal. It’s desperation. It’s vicious and painful nonetheless, but hearing (or reading) poisonous words does no good for anyone. When it came to making decisions about the path my son would go, I did as much research as possible to narrow down our options – as I remembered to breathe. Sometimes taking a ten minute walk between efforts and incidents was life saving. Until a plan is in place, take mental, intentional breaks for relief from the strain and stress. Another way might be to consider the modules, they are wonderful if you can sit down and go through them. They are not only a break, they will guide you specifically.

      Caring about yourself is essential! Because not only do you matter – but the healthier you become, the better chance your son and the situation have of becoming healthy.

      You are not alone,


    2. Hi jezabelle,
      Sounds like you are going through a very tough time right now, everyone here understands your feelings of hopelessness and frustration. Now may be the time to really focus on you and self-care. I found that when I was struggling through tumultuous times, taking just a few moments out of my day to do something for just me, gave me little moments of peace. It was not easy and I had to force myself. Also, twice a day I would say out loud the things I was thankful for. It started small like, “I am grateful my son is alive and safe for another day,” or “I am grateful that he called me today.” My thankfulness gradually bloomed into being thankful for things that I had been overlooking or taking for granted like, “I am grateful I have two beautiful daughters and a beautiful son,” or “I am grateful for the incredible husband I have and such supportive friends in my life.” I would say my thanks first thing in the morning before my feet hit the floor, then at night before my head hit the pillow. I found that it was a 30 second process to start but, mushroomed into a 10 minute time of being thankful for the gifts I have been given.

      Have you been able to watch Learning Module 7 and done the activities? I wonder if this might help you do a little focusing on your mental health and well-being?

      I have also found that during these times of chaos, when I was trying desperately to figure out what to do, I would put off any decisions until my mind was clear. I found that the delay usually helped clear my head and helped to bring the solution into light. I am a huge advocate for education and research so any decisions I make are informed. Delaying my decisions and vigilant information-gathering usually helped me gain confidence in what my final action would be.

      It sounds like you are not in favor right now of sectioning your son. It sounds like you are looking for alternatives. It can also be incredibly difficult to know what to do when you have so many people outside of the situation giving you advice, when truly, they have no idea what they might do in your same situation. Even if they are in the similar situation, your son’s and your experiences and responses may be different. So, my response to you will be to share my experiences and maybe you will find something in there that helps.

      One thing that is not allowed in my house is using and abusing drugs. If my son is still in active addiction, living with me is not an option. Notice I say option, because I do not believe that I was kicking him out when I set up the boundary of no use or abuse of drugs. Instead I would just give him other options than staying at home. I always had a list of shelters, numbers to people I knew that could help get him into treatment, sober homes, etc. If he was interested in any of those options, I would help him in any way I could. If he did not want any of these options, he could find his own solutions to where to stay. Which means he has options and he is the one making the choices for himself, not me. My options only include a path to sobriety and treatment. His may not. My options are based on keeping my own values and ethics intact. And I always follow through–I want my son to know I mean business, and I care enough for him that I will not participate in his destruction.
      Lying and manipulating, and trying to find ways to get money out of me was also a part of my struggle with my son. All three things I expect when addiction is rearing its ugly head. I expect lying and I will respond bearing that in mind. I try to not engage when I know I am being manipulated. And I was always guarded against giving cash. I went to great lengths to not give cash. That was just my value. I never wanted my money to go to drug use, so holding to that boundary was important to me

      When it came to giving my son something like food or clothes or something he might need, I would always try and follow the Learning Modules 5 and 6. I would use them as rewards for enabling good behavior. I would use them to encourage a path of sobriety and treatment. So, for me it was no cash but, I would find those times when he was sober and I would reward him. If he was using, again I would follow Learning Module 6 and step away without judgement (not easy to do).

      My son moved in and out of jobs while he was dealing with his Substance Use Disorder (SUD). I did not want him to lose his jobs but if he did, it was just the natural consequences that was supposed to happen. I found it frustrating but, I also saw it as a time for him to learn. He thought he was holding it all together yet he lost his job. I tried not to judge him and would usually ask him questions when he told me, that would lead to him rethinking what was going on his life. Questions like, “Why do you think that happened?” or “what are you going to do about that?”
      I know this is lot and your head must be spinning. Just know that you are not alone. All of us here understand your confusion and despair and we all wish for the best.

    3. What you describe is a terrible, terrible situation. When drugs and alcohol have taken over, the parent is drawn into the needs of the addiction, blamed when resources come up short, attacked when they refuse to provide the “help” requested. 

      Read Dominique Simon-Levine’s full response and recommendations to jezabelle and other parents feeling overwhelmed and at the end of their rope with an addicted Loved One living at home: