Jamestown, North Dakota
Nearly 10 years ago we received a phone call at 8:00 a.m., a phone call that changed our lives. We were told that our son Adam was being transported by first responders to an area hospital. He had been found unresponsive and was not able to be revived.
Adam was only a few months beyond his 21st birthday. He struggled with an addiction to marijuana. He was in treatment at the time and was beginning to understand that his life needed to change. He was beginning to “get it.” Progress was being made. We saw light at the end of the tunnel.
Adam was an intelligent and talented young man with dimples and a smile that warmed everyone’s heart. He was a gifted musician and had a giving heart like no other. He was the type of individual that had great empathy for others and looked to find good in everyone. He was often taken advantage of because of his giving personality.
Marijuana entered Adam’s life sometime in his early high school years. He dabbled with his usage and became addicted. Many say you cannot be addicted to marijuana, but we saw otherwise, and he knew otherwise as well. Adam’s marijuana use was a self- medicating way of coping with his depression and anxiety.
We spoke openly about drugs and alcohol in our home. We had curfews. We had family meals together. We had consequences. We regularly attended church together and had a strong faith in God. We had the support of others. We did all the “right things,” but it didn’t matter. Addiction won in this life. Addiction took the life of our one and only son, our firstborn, the brother to our two daughters. Sometimes all the right things are done but it simply isn’t enough.
The treatment facility where our son Adam was placed failed to recognize that he was in distress. Staff were improperly trained to recognize overdose signs, which resulted in the Adam’s death. We can’t change what occurred, but we hope treatment facilities take seriously the importance of adequate and thorough training of staff and the importance of their role in caring for people struggling with substance use. Addiction doesn’t have to result in death as it did for Adam. It can and should result in changed lives. Our experience was extremely sad and unfortunate, and we fear it happens more often than we know.
There isn’t a day that has gone by since our son’s death that we don’t grieve. Adam’s sisters grieve deeply. It will be 10 years in September of 2019. We love and miss him and always will.