I recently did an autopsy on a 26-year-old female, who overdosed on heroin. The forensic investigator went to her parents house to make notification and was awestruck by the huge house where her parents lived. They were obviously wealthy. Yet their daughter was discovered in the dingy, filthy apartment of her equally drug addicted boyfriend. According to the investigator, there were needles all over the room where the young woman was found.
The boyfriend said he woke up, found her unresponsive, gave her some Narcan, but it did not help. She was obviously dead.
I remember during the autopsy, I was telling my assistant that when I was 26 years old, I was struggling to make it through my first year of pathology residency. I did not have the time or energy to even consider injecting myself with heroin. I had too much to do and not enough time to do it. My assistant replied that at 26 years of age she was wondering how she was going to get the money to get her car repaired so she could make it to work on time.
It is very likely that my young patient never had to worry about such mundane affairs as car payments and credit card bills. She may have been gifted a nice ride for her sweet sixteenth birthday with no worries about loans or even car insurance. Mommy and daddy probably took care of all of that. And so what did she have to worry about? Getting her next fix.
Is it possible that life is in the struggle? Did taking that struggle away from our young patient somehow cripple her or make her question her own ability to care for herself and live independently from her parents. Would struggling with mundane issues like getting to work on time, making car repairs, and paying loans have actually made her more appreciative of the life she was given? Does learning to overcome those small issues and problems prepare us to take on the bigger things that make life challenging, but also exciting. It teaches us self-reliance.
I know every parent struggles with how to properly care for their children. Should they give them this or take that away. But just as in that beautiful story of the young child who finds a cocoon with the butterfly inside struggling to get out. In his attempt to be helpful, the young child peels back the hard cocoon so the butterfly may emerge. But what emerges is a broken, crippled, malformed creature that will never fly. Too often parents are like this child. They want so much for their children to be happy all the time and it hurts them to see them struggle or suffer. Yet if they would just allow their child to think things through and come up with solutions on their own, they would likely be amazed by how resourceful their child could be.
Just as that butterfly must develop and mature to the point that he is able to emerge and break out of his cocoon, so too must young children experience struggle and triumph over those hardships in their lives in order to grow, develop, and gain rightful independence. That seems to be largely lacking in the lives of many of my overdose patients. They never launched into the confidence that they could take care of themselves and fully develop adult independence and responsibility.
My heart goes out to you parents. You, too may have been raised in an environment of lack. Substance abuse is often multi-generational and maladaptive, dysfunctional behavior patterns get passed down through the family line. Thus, fueling the next generation of heroin/opiate addicts.
Through my job as a forensic pathologist and my current training in life coaching, I seek to help others break through negative thought patterns and rid themselves of feelings that drive actions that do not serve them. Through coaching, we can work together to embrace new challenges and change the trajectory of your life. If you would like to explore the benefits of working with a coach, you may contact me through this site or message me on Facebook.