Please Forgive Me Grandma

Unknown to most of the parents in the upscale neighborhood we lived in between Baltimore and Washington, several of the youth, including me, had been experimenting with addictive drugs. I, myself, started with the requisite alcohol, then moved on to marijuana as I moved up the substance abuse ladder to an assortment of street drugs.

At this point in my youth, economics kept me from going any further. Drugs were expensive. My parents, in the top ten-income bracket, were prudent with money and only gave me a small allowance. That was about to change. An opiate bonanza was about to arrive at our house. Mom’s nearly blind mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and it was decided she’d do her home hospice at our house. And she was coming equipped with an endless supply of OxyContin.

At first, it was easy: under the guise of sitting with her, I’d open up her prescription bottle and clip a few of her pain pills for myself. Soon my visits became more frequent and as soon as I got what I needed from her supply. I was on my way. Then when visits became inconvenient, I would slip into her room at night grab a few pills.

My greedy carelessness caused an unanticipated problem: my frail cancer-ridden grandmother was being accused of becoming addicted to her painkillers. She’d denied it and she swore she was only taking them as a last resort. Nobody believed her and my mother decided only family members could administer her painkillers.

I volunteered to help and soon, with both my parents working, it became my responsibility to dispense my grandmother’s pain meds. Once again, mom became alarmed by the large amount of painkillers supposedly being consumed by my grandmother. I lied and said Grandma was begging me for more pills to ease her pain and that in an act of compassion, I gave her whatever she wanted. Mom got smart and hired a nurse. My supply was cut off.

After my supply got cut off it was graduation day (from OxyContin to heroin). I’m not sure when this had occurred, but I know it was because I had a difficult time trying to get a hold of pills. After that, I would spend the better part of three years isolated from my family strung out on heroin. It’s been several years now that I’ve been in recovery. I’ve had lots of time to reflect on the injuries I inflicted on others. The worst was what I did to my dying grandmother. Not only did I steal her needed medication. It was my fault that her loved ones assumed she had become a drug addict in her final days.

Lucas O. – Bethesda, MD