July 26, 1978 - August 13, 2016
My son, JC Conners came to me over five years ago worrying and wanting to get off of drugs. Unfortunately - by that time - he had little control over his addiction; his brain was shutting down and we didn't understand. On August 13, 2016 JC succumbed to the disease of addiction; he overdosed and died. He was 38 years old!
How does a hard-working, healthy man become severely addicted to drugs? It shocked us all. Some time ago, JC was introduced to oxycodone, a simple pill, that a friend told him would help with stress and make him "feel good" - adding that the best part was that it wasn't easily detected and didn’t get you in trouble like alcohol. Unaware, JC took the pill, not realizing the downfall that was about to happen.
JC wasn't your stereotypical addicted individual. He was high-functioning, worked hard at his job, and spent time with his family. He fooled us all by managing his everyday life so well. But slowly over time he started to deteriorate. JC eventually shared with me what he came to realize later: “This so called ‘medicine’ shouldn't be on the market. It's misused. I'm really sick. Something's wrong. My minds off."
After realizing this JC tried hard to stop but couldn't, with each attempted he was further consumed by his addiction. We tried seeing doctors, therapists, etc., but they all seemed detached. JC was only a number in a long line of individuals also struggling with an addiction. We tried outpatient therapy but that didn't work either.
At another program, we learned how this particular drug stops your brain from producing the “right” chemicals to function and if this continues part of your mind goes missing. We also learned that it can take years for the brain to recover and start producing these much needed chemicals again for health brain functioning. Meanwhile, the individual just wants to feel "okay" and as hard as they try the only way to function "okay” is going back on the drug.
JC overdosed last Thanksgiving and survived. He overdosed for a second time this past June, again, he survived. He then spent five days in the hospital with complications related to this overdose. The day JC was released, neither the doctors nor the staff learned or inquired about his past history with addiction, they only sent him home with the suggestion he see a therapist. So, we trusted the professionals. Two months later, JC was gone. He had fallen through the cracks and we didn't understand fully the depth of his struggles until it was too late; we fell with him.
My daughter asked me to write this so JC’s story would be heard and to relate this message to everyone: we need to be aware and come to terms with the realization of what these drugs do to the human brain, yet these drugs are out there and way too easy to come by. Why is this happening? We need to sympathize, understand and help those struggling with addiction, not stigmatize them. JC was told by many professionals that, “he had to want help and had to want to help himself.” The outside help he did try failed him, so he thought he was better off overcoming his struggles on his own. We his family didn't understand the severity of his addiction, so we let him try. We came to realize this was a terrible mistake! Professionals need to make it VERY clear to both the individual and their families that overcoming addiction can’t be easily done on their own. Additionally, they need to better help us, the families, understand that our loved ones might not be thinking rationally due to the addiction compromising healthy brain functioning.
Yes, JC chose to use, but had little knowledge of the effects these drugs have on the brain because they aren't being properly explained to the public. His last years were a hard existence and he paid the ultimate price, but my son was so much more than his addiction. He was a kind, sincere, caring person, who would do anything for anyone. A kid at heart, JC believed there was good in everyone and truly wanted to turn his life around. He was a great man who was loved by so many, who just made a terrible mistake, but so did the medical system.
Our surgeon general has informed the public, that addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. 1 out of 7 people in our country struggle with some sort of addiction and only about 10% are able to get the treatment they so desperately need. How sad!
How I wish I knew more when my son was struggling and fighting so hard. I hope by sharing this it may help others. These DRUGS are KILLERS!!!!