Vicky had been through a lot by the time she told me her story. Her son Tom was addicted to heroin. His father, Walt, was an addict, too.
Vicky and Walt had been together since high school — long enough that, when he started taking drugs, she stuck with him, which meant living through a yearslong cycle of addiction, crisis, detox and rehab.
She got him clean, and he stayed that way for years.
He was clean when they had Tom — a sweet, funny, smart kid who made it to his junior year in high school before weekend flings with prescription opioids became an addiction to heroin, which turned her son into somebody else.
Vicky and Walt kept their son close and worked together to get him help until — for reasons he couldn’t explain — Walt picked up the habit again.
This time, Vicky told Walt she was leaving him. When Tom refused to leave with her, she left her son as well.
That may sound heartless to someone who’s never been through it, but Vicky did the right thing. They gave her no choice.
Months later, during his umpteenth stay in rehab, Tom called his father crying and begging for drugs — something, anything to stop the pain.
For the last time, his father gave Tom what he wanted.
A few days after they said goodbye at the rehab facility, Tom got the news that his father had suffered an overdose and died.
The facility let Tom out long enough to attend his father’s funeral, but the court that had sent Tom into treatment ruled him noncompliant and released him to the streets.
When Vicky called me, she was desperate to find another treatment program for Tom.
Before we found one, Vicky took Tom to a diner for lunch. At one point, he excused himself to go to the bathroom.
When he didn’t come back, she burst into the men’s room, found Tom unconscious in a stall, and began screaming his name and beating on the door until she broke through.
She called 911 and kept him alive until the EMTs got there, but just barely.
At the ER, she told Tom he had no choice. He could not come home. It was rehab or goodbye.
Vicky is hoping this is Tom’s bottom, the place every addict has to reach before the only direction is up.
But heaven knows if that’s where he is, and until then, Vicky will be with him in hell.
All names have been changed to protect privacy.