My son Patrick Andrew died on December 10, 2014, from adverse effects of heroin. He is forever 24. Unfortunately, my son succumbed to the disease of addiction. It not only ended his life but overtook the life he was capable of living. I will not list adjectives that describe my son, other than you would have never known he was an addict by looking at him. Pat owned and ran his own business with his father and finally in Florida, he was commended as the most respectful and hard working from a body of over 100 workers.
I am not speaking as his mother; this was taken from a letter written by the owner of Sloane Hurricane. He was scheduled to have his own crew on return from the winter slow down in January 2015. He was not strung out. He could carry three hundred pound windows up and down ladders. Patrick was in amazing physical condition, despite his drug use.
Patrick was not a vagrant; he maintained his own residence and supported himself financially. He counted on me for groceries and medical & dental insurances and copay’s for treatment. Patrick was not a thief. Patrick never assaulted anyone for the purposes of obtaining drugs. He was described to me by one of his drug rehab IOP counselors in this way.
Dodie explained she had 40 years experience in this field and that Patrick was able to manipulate the system better than anyone in her experience. No wonder, as he was “gifted” and thrived on hard work and structure. She also stated, in my conversation 12/12 when I notified her of his passing, that she was “surprised he lasted this long”, considering his lack of fear.
July 11, 2014, I placed him on an Amtrak train to Jacksonville, FL for admission to rehab. Pat had made these arrangements and later arranged to be transferred from the Jacksonville facility. December 7, 2014, he returned from Florida via Amtrak. He was so homesick. When his brother left Patrick in Florida after a Thanksgiving visit, both my sons sobbed. Matt, then 25 and Patrick, 24 were everything to each other.
This girl (whom I now refer to as see u next Tuesday) gave him money for the ticket. No one else would, his nearby uncle, his dad, me, his loving brother, his dearest friends said NO! She was with him the night he died. Questioned 4 times by homicide, she cannot be held accountable for: disposing of bags, needles and leaving him to die or after he died. Here in PA, supposedly there is no requirement for a person not in healthcare to provide help to the dying or obligation to report a death.
I found a bag, with skull and crossbones marking, obviously left behind by my son. I located this in my son’s jeans. Those he wore on either the night he actually died or the evening before he died in the early morning hours of 12/10 None of the 3 individuals present that night held accountably. The one individual’s name, found in Pat’s cell phone, was not known to any of us. Why? He was someone that Pat had met in prison. The other individual, well known to us was his connection. Their dealer for the night. Person A, now dead at age 33. Person B kept away at my son’s funeral. On probation and in rehab in Florida, person B’s probation officers were not interested in the pics with him posing with 5 others all brandishing weapons (shotguns, pistols, large pistols) with a caption stating “come on up”.
What could have been done to derail the ultimate addiction? I will briefly explain my son’s life leading through into and to his final attempts at starting a new life and being clean.
In 1999, I reconciled with my husband after separating for a 2 yr period primarily due to his alcohol addiction, lack of commitment to our family and narcissism. He was deep into his alcohol addiction; present since we met. I attempted to keep those sharing in his drinking away from my home with great resistance. Patrick, having always adored his father, gradually became his companion.
In 2005, dad (Robert) took a day trip to Red Point, MD with my sons Matthew and Patrick, ages 15 and 14. On the way home, he was found pulled over urinating at the side of the road by an officer of East Nottingham Twp., PA police. In the parking lot prior to the hearing, the officer indicated to Robert that if the State Police had not responded, he would have allowed him to walk away.
Ok. Let me understand this. A drunk parent, empty beer bottles in the wagon of the SUV being driven by a 14-year-old, two 15-year-old young men (one his son) in the back seat and the findings of some marijuana with the adult staggering and stammering. Dad’s charges were dropped to a high degree misdemeanor charge of providing alcohol to minors with a fine and probation.
Pat’s first day of 10th grade, I receive a call from the vice principal of Owen J. Roberts high school in Pottstown, PA. I arrived to find my son handcuffed with his hands behind his back, multiple state police vehicles and officers. They were chasing my son around the front lawn of the school. Patrick was still drunk. The eve of that day, he and his father drank until late the night before, early that morning.
Dad nowhere to be found. It was a sad and frightening situation seeing my son who I didn’t recognize. I turned stunned and lost to the principal standing on the lawn with me and said I need help. We were escorted to the police station. The decision was made for me to homeschool him. He was a prolific brilliant student who completed curriculum we designed by the end of 11th grade. I was a full-time nurse working overnights coming home to my suburban 4 bedroom home with a boat & two cars in the driveway, an in-ground pool, a dog and a lawn with the chaos of a frat inside complete with vomit all around the toilet and people sleeping in random places throughout the house. All of this under the watchful eye of dad.
We were placed under the scrutiny of county services. I explained the situation to Pat and his dad. CYS charged me! and his dad with child abuse. I was after all an adult in the home. Both charges dismissed as unfounded. Dad had influence over Patrick and they raised walls with lies; the mission to maintain a closed system to protect their addiction. The county and CYS did nothing. I came home one day to find my Patrick at the kitchen table with a beer at hand. Dad drunk and still on probation, I called local police. Patrick took off. Dad gave a breathalyzer. Nothing!! Dad on probation with a report of drinking with his minor son. Nothing! No probation violation for dad.
In 2007 Patrick was charged with a DUI. He was charged with this DUI after he took his brother’s car thru a cornfield on a self-destructive mission. While on probation for this charge, he went to New Year’s party, where he was involved in a fight. Patrick reported to his probation officer shortly after. Its a relatively small town and news travels. Patrick sat with John Barr, a juvenile probation officer with an office located in the high school, who did not allow him to contact me. Feeling the pressure and thinking simply, Pat offered that he had drank at this party.
Patrick felt that if he offered the information, he would be seen as cooperative and making an attempt to be on the right side of the law. John Barr violated his probation. He was adamant in his efforts to have Patrick placed in Abraxas. My question, why did John Barr not contact me as his parent during the interview with such consequences at stake?
Why did John Barr feel the need to facilitate placement versus recommending D&A evaluation and require me as his parent to follow through before placing him in an institution 300 miles away in Northwestern PA where violent offenders, some without any family support were housed. Patrick was “tagged”, a term for a blitz assault and suffered 5 broken facial bones.
I filed a report with JCHAO because, it was rumored that there was insufficient staff and because on that Sunday, he was assaulted, he was returned to his dorm, with a head injury, an ice pack and maybe some NSAID. It was not until the next day, that I was advised by a counselor at the facility. I spoke with the on-duty nurse and demanded further evaluation of the injuries.
He was taken to Clarion Medical Center for a CT Scan of his head and face. He came home on monitoring and then was again sentenced to another detention center in the NW part of the state. The director appeared with us in court asking the judge to allow him to come home. He spoke highly of Pat’s respect, diligence, intelligence and cooperation above all who had been through his facility and previously had been under his watch.
Patrick was a misled child by his own father. There were circumstances and issues that traumatized Pat as a young man. Dad convinced him professional help was only invasive. Patrick as a teenage boy and young man had been in numerous;-no less than 5 car accidents. He could be out of control with police, ambulance personnel, and hospital personnel. One accident he sustained 2 broken vertebral processes. The hospital misdiagnosed this and “ruled out” a spinal fracture. I took him the next day to his uncle, my brother who is an orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed him with the two fractured vertebrae.
He walked bent to the right side because of the pain. The hospital, having had him in their E.R. in the past had given him Tylenol for the pain labeling him as trouble and a drug seeker. Patrick followed up with a nearby orthopedist since his uncle is an hour away. He was given Oxycontin. Soon, he and his friend were snorting the oxy. Pat and the friend, a son of a very wealthy businessman who was given a new Porsche and a complete education turned to heroin. I forgive him. He showed his regret and remorse at Patrick’s funeral. He stood in front of me, unable to speak and I watched tears roll down his cheeks. We hugged.
The precious girl (yes this is bitter sarcasm) who left my son dead in the bathroom of my home on the night of 12/9/14 had in 11/2013 given my son a hotshot on which he overdosed and before calling rescue she placed 14 bags on him that she had acquired from her connections in N. Philly. Given Narcan at Pottstown Memorial Center, he had a classic reaction waking in withdrawal. He went AMA. His nurse, who I chastised and reminded of her duties as a nurse, had texted the police officer to tell him Pat had gone AMA. Pat was arrested in front of a Wawa trying to call his brother. He was incarcerated for 1 count of possession and probation violations. No, follow up with the girl, no seeking her contacts in North Philly. They had him, after all..
We failed our Patrick. I failed on a personal level not permanently keeping him away from the man he adored and emulated, yet who encouraged and approved of his substance use. The school willing to place a juvenile probation officer on site had no therapeutic recovery programs and a zero-tolerance policy for substance use. This is unrealistic and damaging. The law enforcement personnel who were willing to turn their heads with the situation of three vulnerable youths and an adult willing to sacrifice his own sons’ safety and security and a friend of his son’s safety.
The failure of law enforcement and the social services system who had the opportunity to investigate a parent on so many occasions. A social services system failed to look deeper and support the non-abusive parent. The probation officer bent on retribution rather than concern whose punitive and bitter style was supported by the juvenile system. Failure of the enforcement body to consider the bigger picture. Yes, as time went on, Patrick became more involved in the legal system. Ultimately, he loved us with the caveat that if not for our love, he would take a gun to his head because of who he had become.
He did not quit trying to fight this terminal illness. He was proactive in seeking treatment (for which he had our total support), managing transportation even taking care of transfers between institutions when the environment was unsatisfactory to him. He knew for certain he is loved by us. And, he showed us, complete love. There is no sense of relief for the lack of these types of situations. Though cliche, it is so true that where there is life, there is hope.