John "Bubba" Carter
Pelham, New Hampshire
On the exhale, you realize that’s another $50 dollars gone. You remember that thing you had to do yesterday that you slept through. You remember the cracking in your mother’s voice when you picked up the phone and told her you weren’t coming home again.You remember what you had. You remember what you lost.
Drugs can take you to other worlds, much different than our own. But they will never take you to a world that mirrors what life was like before.
I lost my brother, John "Bubba" Carter to a drug overdose on July 16, 2016.
My brother was a sweet young man. He was always looking out for others and putting them above himself. Watching Bubba self-destruct was like a heart palpitation that just wouldn’t quit. He was one of those people that you only get once in a lifetime; one of those people who changes your life the second they enter it. Their smile lights up your life, and it’s something that never fails to make your day one hundred percent better. Bubba will always be that person for me - the person who could always make my day better just by being around. He never knew how much he was loved and how many people cared about him. Bubba grew up in a loving home with parents that never kept alcohol or prescription drugs around. Our mother is a police officer, who sees the tragedy of what drugs do to families every day on the streets, and his father has been in recovery for 20 plus years; it just goes to show that drug addiction can happen to anyone.
Bubba started using drugs when he was 13 years old. First it was marijuana and alcohol, and soon after he was introduced to Adderall, Percocet, cocaine, and heroin. His drug addiction took over his life quickly. The times Bubba was strong enough to ask for help, he would. Bubba went to his first treatment facility when he was 15 years old, after he overdosed by mixing adderall and alcohol while at a party in town. It was hard to see my mother struggling to get her son back from the drug monsters that controlled him.
Bubba attempted many times to live a life of sobriety. At 16 years old, he entered his second treatment facility, after having high levels of THC that put him into a drug-induced psychosis. After completing this program, Bubba attempted to attend AA and NA meeting regularly but the triggers that surrounding him were too strong. The stigma of drug addiction surrounded him everywhere he went. Bubba encountered people that would attack his sobriety by bringing up his past drug use. This made him feel as if no matter how hard he tried to stay clean he was still living in the shadows of his addiction.
On March 17, 2016, Bubba with the help of family and friends entered his final detox and treatment facility. After three weeks, he left the facility and returned home. We learned later on that he maintained a full 30 days of sobriety on his own between March and April. He was very proud of himself. Bubba relapsed in May of 2016.
Two weeks prior to my brother’s death on June 30, 2016, my family and I, along with some of his friends, attempted an intervention. At the time Bubba was no longer living at home. Although we kept in contact with him, we had decided to stop enabling him hoping he would choose recovery again. During this intervention the police were also involved and tried to help him, but because Bubba knew all the “right” words to say, their hands were tied. We then learned that Bubba had started using heroin intravenously.
On that same day but before the intervention, Bubba called me and ask to meet up to talk. I frequently recorded conversations with him hoping one day I could use them as a strategy to encourage him to stay clean. I immediately went to see him. When we met, Bubba spoke about his goals, and how he no longer wanted to live a life that made him feel unworthy to be loved. Bubba didn't want to cry anymore, didn't want to feel hungry because he spent all his money of drugs and didn't want to struggle. That's when I noticed the track marks on his arms. My heart ached. My face drained in color and I started to shake. I didn't want to see my little brother hurting. Before I drove off, Bubba asked for a hug and said "If I don't see you in two weeks, I want you to know I love you.”
I didn't know two weeks was going to come so soon.
Even though Bubba was suffering from addiction, it never stopped him from caring for and loving others; he was always putting people before himself. After his death, we have had many strangers and friends contact us and tell us stories about their interactions with him. Bubba always expressed to his family, that he was an outsider and did not have many friends, but we knew that was his addiction making him believe those lies. As we have seen from the outpour of support from family, friends and the community, Bubba was loved beyond measure. We got a letter from a neighbor that said Bubba helped her weed her yard because he saw her struggling to walk with her cane. She didn't know who he was until she saw his obituary in the paper. Another girl told me about how he paid for her coffee in the drive thru and they became close friends and encouraged each other daily.
Addiction is real. It is affecting families everyday and making them question if they're going to see their loved ones ever again. It's time for us to unite and break the silence.
I know that if my brother was here he would tell everyone struggling that it is okay to reach out for help, it doesn't make you weak. You need to associate with people who inspire you, people who challenge you to rise higher, people who make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people who are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.
Our brothers and sisters are the first real relationships we have outside of our parents. Bubba was my brother — my first friend and the first person I learned to play with, share with, and laugh with. Bubba was the first person who picked on me, fought with me and taught me forgiveness. A life without him was never in sight. And I think that’s the hardest thing to get over.