“It was over five years ago when I realized my son was suffering from mental health and addictions. At first, I didn’t realize how extensive the problem was or how big it was. It was only after time that I noticed how his behavior patterns and how his behavior changed. He would try to stop using. He’d tell us he could do it on his own. His mother and I offered our help, but truthfully, we didn’t even know where to take him. We felt helpless. At one point we went to the hospital because he was coming down from a bad trip and was hallucinating, hearing voices and saying that I could read his mind and knew what he was thinking.
Just prior to this past Christmas, Nick went to a Detox Center in North Bay for a couple of days. After Christmas, Nick was in a good place. I agreed for him to come live with me. I really enjoyed my time with Nick and feel this was a gift before his passing. He was attending sessions at CMHA. Nick said that he wanted and needed the help. He has two children and wanted to be part of their lives. When he was well, he respected me and came to work with me. I started to notice that he was back on drugs because when he was coming down, he would get belligerent. After he stole pills from a family member, I was upset with him. We talked about it later and I asked him why he did it. I wanted to understand. He felt bad for doing it, but he just couldn’t seem to stop himself. After two months of not using drugs, he verbalized how he would get “the itch.” At that moment it sunk in for me; his addiction was a great force that had a grip on him and caused him to act out. It was hard to believe at first and I soon started realizing that there were many people out there who would front him the money to get the drugs he wanted.
In the back of my mind I really wanted to believe him when he’d tell me that he was going to beat this and that he’d fine. After his disappearance, for days I would drive around and all I would see was a tarnished world. I assumed everyone was a suspect. I felt like people were watching me. While he was missing, everything felt so tense. I would wake up at 4 am and not be able to get back to sleep. I was exhausted. My head would be spinning, and I was on high alert. I was fearful for my life at times and made sure everything was locked. I felt so disconnected from the world.
I was concerned about letting him see how helpless and hopeless I felt. There were so many challenges for Nick such as starting over, getting a job he could hold on to, being a father to his children as well as helping to raise them and support them financially. He was a good man and wanted to do what was right. He felt extremely challenged because the drugs would always pull him back in. Then he’d be out of control again. I just wanted to help somehow, to do everything I could to help him to regain control. I thought that by bringing him to work with me, he’d at least be safe. I’ve blamed myself because I couldn’t help him but ultimately, I know it was up to him.
As a parent I felt like I should know how to talk to my kids... and hesitated to involve others because of the feeling of shame. I didn’t want to let go or give away that control. It’s not easy and the treatment centers are far away and not easily accessible. But I would say, push harder. I felt I should have pushed the doctor to get additional help. I understood he couldn’t be there for my son all the time. I wish I would have voiced my concern louder to let them know that it’s not acceptable to let someone out of a hospital when they are not okay.
I feel that there is a great need for people in our community to know that this is happening in our backyards, neighbors’ homes and it can affect anyone. I owe it to my son Nick, to my other children, to myself and I owe it to my community. I want to help create more awareness because I feel people don’t realize how big this problem truly is. Zack’s Crib would be a place for guys like Nick to find refuge and maybe even to find the help they need to rebuild a normal life.”