My dream was always to have a daughter, specifically a teenage daughter. I never thought that dream would come true since I was not able to have children, but in 2002 I married my life partner and became a mother to his son and teenage daughter. Meghan, his daughter, was the daughter I always dreamed of having. I became the mom who went shopping, planned vacations, and helped get her into Pace University to study marketing. Life was good.
I was living my dream until the night I got a phone call that I can remember like it was only yesterday. It was a Thursday. I was sound asleep, until my phone rang at 4 a.m. It was Meghan’s boyfriend calling – he had something important to tell me. Meghan was addicted to heroin.
How could it be possible? She was doing good, or so I thought. My world was shattered.
Meghan disappeared from school and from my life. She couldn’t face her father and her addiction continued. I didn’t hear from her again until one year later when my phone rang again. Meghan was calling for help – she was pregnant and didn’t know where to turn. I just wanted to see her healthy and I would do anything to get my child back, but I had no clue how hard it was to get someone into rehab who had no money, was on Medicaid, and was pregnant. Fortunately I knew someone who could help me. I was able to get Meghan in a detox program and on methadone, from which she was to go to a mommy-and-me inpatient program.
But there was a 10 day period between programs which meant taking her to an outpatient clinic about one hour from my home. This was a lot for me to think about – it must be alot for her to deal with. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to stay substance free. Over the years she has attempted to find a pathway to get off and stay off drugs. But she hasn’t been able to do it long-term. It has been four years since I have heard from Meghan and I still wait for that phone call when I get to hear her voice once again.
I used to believe that there was only one way to recover, but through the Not One More campaign I have learned that recovery is different for every person. What I do know is that we have to change the way we think about and do things around substance use disorder. We need mobile MAT units to take recovery directly to the folks who need it. We must make it easier to recover when they make the choice to find their pathway, not make someone find their way to a clinic an hour or more away. We need to keep our loved ones alive as long as needed to give them the opportunity to recover.
I know it will take all of us to make the changes needed. We have lost too many loved ones – I say not one more – not one more.