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A family's story: Paul

A family's story: Paul | Opioid Awareness GuideOur son Paul was 31 years old when he passed away from a heroin overdose on Sept. 14, 2017.

Paul was an outgoing, friendly, kind and caring person. He had a close relationship with his sister and us.

He was prescribed opiates for back pain in his early 20s, which led to a 10-year struggle with addiction. He continued to be prescribed painkillers until he enlisted in the Navy in 2011. While in the Navy, he still suffered from back pain and was over-prescribed painkillers. At this time, we didn’t realize or understand the impact of opioids or the disease of addiction. The disease worsened while serving in the Navy. Paul was discharged in the spring of 2016 and New Year’s Eve of that year he overdosed from injecting heroin. We were shocked that it had gotten to this point and didn’t realize how fast things had gone downhill for him.

From here, we got Paul into a rehab facility for a 28-day program, which we now know is not long enough, and we as parents looked for help. While Paul was working on his recovery in rehab, we started to educate ourselves. We started to attend Nar-anon meetings and found resources and support through Save the Michaels of the World. Shortly after being discharged from rehab, Paul relapsed and overdosed again. This time he was able to get into Horizon Health Services for a long-term recovery program. We started to attend the parent and family support group through Horizon while continuing with Save the Michaels. Once Paul left Horizon Village, he moved into an Oxford House, which is a supportive sober living environment. He worked hard on his recovery, went diligently to Narcotics Anonymous meetings, got a sponsor and participated with us in family counseling. He put everything he could into his recovery. He also was always there to help others in their struggle with addiction.

While Paul lost his battle with addiction, we continued with Save the Michaels in their parent grief support group. People need to know that there’s help out there and they don’t have to be alone in this. We now volunteer with Save the Michaels to help spread awareness and help others in dealing with addiction and the stigma that surrounds it.

— Jackie and Paul Thompson

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