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Harvard Health Blog
The ghost in the basement
- By Bill Williams, Guest Contributor
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Bill, I know it is not easy to write about the lost of your dear son. It has been two years since my son, Mathew, died of an overdose. My life for many years was spent similar to yours, addiction specialists, shrinks, treatment facilities, and much talking, begging and crying. I truly think my son wanted to be finished with this dragon named Heroin. I think he really meant it when told me he could quit. But heroin gets a hold on a person that most of us simply can’t understand. The desire is always there. Medication helps, but the desire is always there. I am so sorry you have lost your son. My hope is that you can focus on the wonderful times, and that you can remember he would have chosen to be
heroin free if he could.
Thank you for your kind and generous reply Joni. I am saddened to learn your story. Another of the too many stories. But not just “any other” to you. William also wanted to be rid of his addiction. Four days before he overdosed for the last time he went to a New York hospital to ask to be admitted for inpatient treatment. His insurance company denied his request as “not medically necessary.”
If you Google my name and New York Times you’ll come across two Op-Ed pieces by me. One of them speaks directly to why we need to speak openly about the disease of addiction.
We won’t be able to save our children until we overcome the stigma. We won’t be able to save our children until politicians exercise the willpower to create understanding and compassionate practice around this epidemic.
Bill, Thank you for sharing and all you do to try and help others to understand that addiction can affect anyone. Too many of us know this path and I appreciate all you do.
Thank you for your generous response Mary Kay. Those of us who have been on this path have an obligation to help others and to serve in the memory of those we’ve lost. It isn’t always easy, but it is the only way I know to shed the stigma of this awful disease.
Thank you for sharing your story. Our “William” is/was named Ethan and he passed away at the end of May from an accidental overdose at the age of 26. Some days the pain is so great that we don’t know what we are going to do, but no matter what we continue to share our story. God bless you and your family…
God bless you and your family for sharing your story. It is the most important thing we can do. You are not alone Michael.
I don’t know William but I know a boy like William, captain of his college baseball team, a young employed graduate, in and out of treatment- with an accidental overdose at 24. My William, like yours, was a role model to the young for his passion and talent in sports and loved by many for his sense of humor and kindness. He is missed everyday.
THANK YOU for sharing your story. This needs to be a discussion with all the young boys –and girls out there, and with the insurance companies. Kuso’s to Harvard and Bowdoin for sharing.
Thank you Julie. If you Google my name and New York Times you’ll come across two Op-Ed pieces by me. One of them speaks directly to why we need to speak openly about the disease of addiction.
Marge and I recall William running around the lawn on the Beech Mountain Cabin during our group visit commemorated carved on the tree fungus still on the shelf behind the corner wood stove in the cabin.
If your diligent efforts contribute to one life saved William will not have died in vain.
My son’s history appears to parallel William’s. Every day I know how lucky we are that we don’t know the end of his story. Carrying on William’s story may save my son’s life as you have inspired me with hope and focus to keep carrying on. Thank you for sharing.
Don’t ever give up, no matter how dark things may seem. Let me know if you need any help finding good resources. You don’t have to solve this problem alone. Check out CRAFT.
Thank you for sharing your son with us. The love, hope, grief, pain, and purpose are all clear in your beautifully written words.
United For Recovery
Thank you Tammy. It means a lot to hear from people like you who clearly understand what we’ve been through and how we continue to cope.
Beautifully written. Heartfelt and true. May you continue to get the strength to everyday show how normal addicts are. They are our children, our loved ones . Prayers for you and your wife.
Thank you Mary. My wife and I are sustained by the reaction and support of good people such as you. We WILL prevail.
Thank you so very much for this beautiful and honest expression of family love, undaunted commitment, and unfathomable grief. Your words provide courage and comfort. Addiction is a powerful adversary, however in the end, the beautiful childhood memories and bright legacy of William’s true spirit is what will last, and your generosity in sharing it is an inspiration.
Thanks you for your generous response Monica. If you Google my name and New York Times you’ll find two Op-Ed pieces of mine that may interest you as well. Our battle is ongoing.
Thank you, Bill, for sharing this.
I know what a joy he was to all of you, most particularly to his grand-mother. One of my favorite memories is of a little boy just beginning to talk and enjoying a kiddie pool on her front lawn. When I asked his name, he poked one chubby little finger into his tummy and replied,
“I Yum’. He will always live in my heart as ‘Yum”.
At appropriate times I would like to share your words with folks I feel would benefit from them.
My love to you all, Arline
Feel free to share anything I’ve written any time you like. I appreciate your ongoing support. – Bill
A terrible shame , and loss for family and community
I am an Australian doctor working in this area which is also a developing scourge here
We have injection rooms and there are attempts to bring it into main stream and decriminalise and regard it as a public health issue like alcohol and excess analgesia
However there is a need for community education
The public tends to stigmatise illegal drug use and not look at costs of legal substances
Thank you so much for sharing your son’s story. We will read this with our sons. My heart is with you and your family.
Thank you Jodi. If you Google my name and New York Times you’ll find two Op-Ed pieces of mine that you and your sons might appreciate.
Thank you so much for your courage in writing this. ❤️
Thank you for your kind thoughts Erin.
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