“OxyContin In Your Words” stories are unedited accounts of OxyContin and heroin addiction. Help us break through the shame of addiction and share your own story. Confidentiality, if requested, is assured.
I’d like to share my son Jeremy’s story in the hopes that maybe his story will help someone else who is dealing with an addiction to either Oxy or anything else or if you have lost someone from OxyContin.
Jeremy entered the drug scene pretty much the usual way most kids do. He started drinking alcohol on the weekends at friend’s houses when he was around 15 or 16 years old. It wasn’t causing any noticeable problems with him or his school and grades. We didn’t even know about it at the time. Then when he was around 16 years old, he started smoking pot while drinking. When he was first caught with weed on him, as parents, we did the usual things parents do when they find out their kid is smoking pot. We talked about the dangers of it and how it is the “gateway” to other drugs. We grounded him and took away his car. (Looking back I laugh at that. Like that was going to work if a kid wants to do something.) Jeremy made all the good sounding promises to us about never doing it again.
However, during his 17th year his moods, behavior, attitude, cleanliness, all began to change. His grades were still As, but I knew something worse was going on – I just didn’t know what. So I drug tested him one weekend. He tested positive for not only for marijuana, but for cocaine and ecstasy! I was floored!!! I just couldn’t believe it! MY SON! The handsome, intelligent, talented, charming son of MINE was doing more than weed! Of course, he said it was just that weekend only that he did coke. Yeah, the very same weekend I randomly tested him for the first time! At the time I ignorantly believed him. But still, I got him into “counseling.” Our insurance (United Behavioral Health) had certain steps to follow each calendar year to follow regarding help with drug abuse. The first step was outpatient counseling with a therapist. Then if that didn’t work, then it could progress to “intensive” outpatient therapy at a clinic and if that didn’t work, then he MIGHT be a candidate for 30 days of inpatient rehab! Mind you, all in one calendar year! So if it starts in October, and by January you need inpatient care, forget it! It has to start all over again!!! Anyway, the first counselor said, just let him experiment, it was only that one time! Can you imagine! I said how do you know?! You believe him??? You don’t live with him! Anyway, eventually Jeremy quit him and he was progressing quickly down the path to destruction. So we got him into intensive outpatient therapy where later we learned that’s how he found out about doing prescription pills with the weed to get a better high. He got booted out of there. By October of that year, his senior year and a month before he turned 18, he was now a changed person. We didn’t know it at that time, but he had started snorting OxyContin. It was awful! No more the caring person. He lost both his full four-year scholarships to two different private universities. But we could do nothing, because he was an adult in the state’s eyes. By January of 2009 we “kidnapped” him and drove him to Texas where there was one bed left in a “free” rehab clinic. By the time we got there from Louisiana, the bed had been taken! Boy was he angry!
Then in February, he got arrested on Mardi Gras day for public drunkenness of all things! So I let him spend the night in “big boy” jail, as the guard called it when I went to pick him up the next day. Needless to say, he came home scared and without his shoes! But he continued doing Oxy (still unbeknownst to us) – three 80mgs crushed and snorted every two or three days, we later learned. His temper was getting worse to the point of getting physical with me, by pushing me hard when I wouldn’t give him the keys to his car. I told him then that if he came home that night loaded and got in my face again, I was gonna punch him in the jaw because no son of mine was gonna treat me that way! So that night, I was waiting up for him in the dark on the sofa, ready for him. He and his girlfriend came in about 1 am (he was sticking to his curfew, believe it or not!) but he got in my face and said, “haha I’m loaded, what you gonna do about it?!” Well, you’re supposed to follow through when you lay out a consequence, so I hauled off and punched him hard in the jaw! He stumbled backwards holding his jaw, yelling “Mom! I can’t believe you did that!” I said, well I told you I was going to if you got into my face again! Well between that, and his girlfriend threatening to leave him if he didn’t get help, he agreed that on the following Monday, he would go into detox and then rehab. Which he did do. He actually wanted to. He was ready to change his life. By this point, he had lost his friends, money, clothes, his car was a piece of junk, he sold pretty much everything valuable he had. He wanted his life back.
So in the next 80 days, he managed to detox, get a job and keep it, put money in the bank, graduate from high school, get into a community college, and the best of all, the REAL Jeremy that we all knew was shining through again!!! My boy was “coming home.” It was so awesome to see the changes in him. He was really following the steps he was learning. He even was turning his life to God in the end. Never was a parent prouder of her child than when he walked across that stage at graduation!! We never thought he would make it there!
Because he was doing so great while in rehab, following all the rules, changing his friends, staying clean, going to school, working, behaving himself at home, we got complacent very quickly. Here is where I always warn parents! You must not think everything is okay now that he is in rehab! As hard as it is, you still cannot trust them. They cannot trust themselves. They may sincerely want to stay clean, but the monster that had taken hold of them is STRONG!!! So here I must say as much as it hurts you and them, don’t be so quick to give back that trust for a long time. It’s painful not to do that because they might be doing so well, but it’s so easy for them to “slip” back again with Oxy. Especially after being clean for awhile, they begin to think they are invincible, that it won’t kill them. Oh, how wrong they are!
By May 13, 2009, Jeremy managed to graduate from high school with his class! Then exactly one week later, on May 20, 2009, Jeremy gave in to that “monster” OxyContin “one last time,” which really did prove to be his last time for anything. That previous night, May 19th, I was working nights and Jeremy called and said he would catch a ride home with the girl he worked with. I said okay, but call me when you get home. The last time I talked to Jeremy, was 10:35 pm, May 19th. I called all his friends, and they said they hadn’t heard from him, nor could they get in touch with him. The last anyone heard from him was at 12:45 a.m. As I continued working, I kept texting him with no response. By the time I was driving home at 3:15 am on May 20th, I told myself, “my baby is dead.” I cried all the way home. I could feel it. It’s like his spirit was talking to me. But I had no idea where he was. He wasn’t with his friends. They had no clue as to where he was. So I sat on the couch from 3:30 am to approximately 8 am, getting up every so often to look out of the door. The last time I got up to check the door at about 8 am, a detective from homicide was coming up. I asked, “is Jeremy dead?” And I just started crying. Before he could even tell from what, I said, “was it Oxy?” He confirmed it. It was the darkest day ever in my life. But I keep replaying that day over and over and over because I don’t want it to be true. For weeks I kept looking out that door for Jeremy, and there never was Jeremy again coming through that door. My world fell apart. My heart was shattered to pieces.
But in the midst of my intense grief, which still continues to this day, I set out that Jeremy’s death would not be in vain. I started the Jeremy Traylor Foundation, TXT2Tell, to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse and to stop the secrecy among teens and parents. I want to teach others to speak up and speak out if they or someone they know has a problem with drugs or alcohol. Texting is a great means to do this. Sometimes it’s just easier to text someone than to actually talk to them about it. But the point is not to keep secrets and to get help before it is too late!
Jeremy and I talked about doing this before he died and he thought it was a great idea, he just didn’t want it named after him. Well I told him at his funeral, you didn’t keep your promise to me about not dying, so as a punishment, I AM going to name the foundation after you! And people everywhere will hear your story and you will save lives and you will have not died in vain!
So I say to parents, who have lost a child to prescription drug use, GRIEVE! Grieve for as long as you need to. And remember our children didn’t want to become drug addicts! No one does. But this little pill is stronger than anyone can imagine. It’s deadly just the way it is prescribed! You must repeat to yourselves over and over until you believe it, “I did everything I could.” You will beat yourself up and search where you went wrong and what you should have done, but keep telling yourself, you did the best you could do, until you finally believe it. Don’t be ashamed of how they died. Always be proud of your child, for they hated themselves enough for being addicted. Talk about your child. Talk about the dangers of prescription drugs. Love yourself. Give yourself time to “heal.” My 2-year mark is coming up on May 20th, 2011. This second year was much harder than the first, because the reality has now begun to sink in. And because people expect you to be “better.” The waves of this grief roller coaster are still intense, but they are getting less frequent. Don’t allow the insensitivity of others get to you. No one knows what to say. I know I sure didn’t before I lost my child. If you find people don’t call you anymore and you need to talk, call them. They will listen. Sometimes that’s all you want is someone to listen. But most of all, keep your child’s memories with you all the time. Cherish the time you had with them. Think of only the good times. And know that your child is truly at peace now.
I was asked once, what has the world lost now that Jeremy is gone? One of the best answers I’ve received to that question is from a good friend of mine. She said, “when Jeremy died the world lost the kind of son that millions of mothers dream about but only a few are lucky enough to have.” I truly have to agree with that. He was the son I prayed for for so long to have! The world lost in Jeremy, a truly talented, gifted, intelligent person. One who truly loved his friends and whom his friends loved right back. He was always there for his friends. A son who considered his father “his hero.” A little brother who always protected his big, “little” sister. An uncle who will never be known to his nephew. A son to his mother who adored him. He proudly proclaimed until the end that he was a “mama’s boy.” A son who made his mother SO VERY PROUD! A son whose death shattered his mother’s heart and changed the lives of so many people forever. A bit of light went out of the world when Jeremy died.
~ Submitted by Melissa Traylor, Baton Rouge, Louisiana