My phone rang just before 5:30 that June morning, and I can still hear the screams that came from me when the person on the other end told me the news. My best friend was dead at the age of 27. I could not even process this information. It was surreal. She was a wife, mother, sister, and daughter. She was well educated, had a great job that she loved, she was happily raising her family in our safe and picturesque home town, she was funny, she was beautiful, and she was an addict. It still makes my stomach flip to write that word. It is a hard thing to admit.
Looking back, there were signs, but six and a half years ago the opioid crisis that has gripped our country was still not well publicized and relatively unknown. So to me those signs went unnoticed, and I had recently moved across the country so I did not see the physical toll that this disease had taken on her body.
She always confided in me things that she was struggling with, but not this. I only found out six weeks before her death that there was even an issue, and even then the magnitude of it was downplayed. I talked to her after I was told about her “problem” and waited for her to come to me and tell me what the hell was going on. She was stubborn, and I did not want to push her too hard. I should have.
I still carry the weight of her death with me, I carry the weight of what she must have been struggling with that caused her to become so lost that she turned to a needle to dull her pain. Chances are you know someone battling addiction and fighting for their life whether you realize it or not. It does not discriminate, and it does not care about the wreckage it leaves behind. She was not alone, I am not alone in losing someone to this disease. If you are fighting this demon as we speak, YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.