by Katharine Q. Seelye New York Times, January 21, 2018. 

EXTRACTS

Drug deaths draw the most notice, but more addicted people live than die. For them and their families, life can be a relentless cycle of worry, hope and chaos.

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Even in the cheeriest moments, when Patrick was clean, everyone — including him — seemed to be bracing for the inevitable moment when he would turn back to drugs.

“We are your neighbors,” his mother, Sandy Griffin, said of the many families living with addiction, “and this is the B.S. going on in the house.”

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. But the opioid scourge, here and elsewhere, has overwhelmed police and fire departments, hospitals, prosecutors, public defenders, courts, jails and the foster care system.

Most of all, though, it has upended families.

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 “It’s a merry-go-round, and he can’t get off,” Sandy said of Patrick and his overdoses. “The first couple of times, I started thinking, ‘At least he’s not dead.’ I still think that. But he’s hurting. He’s sick. He needs to learn to live with the pain of being alive.”

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Unlike some of the other parents, Sandy seemed battle hardened, like one who had been immersed in a war for a long time.

“I lost myself 10 years ago,” she told the group. “I couldn’t go to work, I couldn’t get out of bed.” She said she was consumed by codependency, in which “you are addicted to this human being to save them.”

She said she had realized that she had to save herself. 

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For drug users and their loved ones, though, the worry never ends. No day can be ordinary. The threat of relapse is constant.

When Patrick recently texted Sandy, saying, “I love you,” her first thought was that he was about to kill himself. She frantically called him back. Patrick told her he was fine, he had just been thinking about her.

For a moment, Sandy caught her breath.

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