Families of the addicted suffer in silence

If you have been reading this newspaper section for the past two weeks, you know it is National Recovery Month and throughout Sheboygan there have been events to create awareness. I have seen courage displayed by people who thought they had no voice. I complete this series with honoring one such woman who is publicly sharing her story for the first time:

After being in Cook County jail for days and being released without notification to us, her parents, my daughter met a woman who led her to a drug house. They stripped away her identification, left her alone to die, and ran away after cleaning the house of any drugs. My beautiful, vivacious daughter, Nicole, died from a heroin overdose on Oct. 22, 2004, at the age of 29.

How did her life get to this point? How was it that the last time I told my daughter that I loved her was when she was calling collect on a payphone outside the Cook County jail at 10 p.m.? And how could the Illinois police really think a bag of her clothes was going to answer all my questions?

Nicole was my first born. She was a married woman studying to be an aesthetician. When my son-in-law called to tell us he was leaving her because “she is addicted to drugs,” I couldn’t believe it. I refused to believe it. The reality of her drug addiction was seen with my own eyes when the family met at Disney World. Through the slits of a bathroom stall I saw my amazing little girl stick a needle in her arm. I was paralyzed. I could not breathe. I confronted her. She told me that her heroin addiction started with her addiction to Oxycotine.

Nicole came home with us to get treatment and enter recovery. There was none to be found. In 2004 a local hospital told us they did not know how to deal with her addiction and detox. The same excuse came from a treatment center. The only place that seemed to know what to do was in Milwaukee with no empty beds.

With no other options, we sent Nicole to Florida to enter a treatment center that cost close to $10,000, draining our savings. She was kicked out for relapsing on drugs she bought from the drug deal- ers who would sit outside the center, targeting the patients.

Nicole was lost on the streets in Florida for a month until a family friend found her and brought her home to us once again. She was in recovery for a year, making amends for her wrongdoings. She returned to Illinois to face a judge for owing hundreds of dollars in parking fines. She was sentenced to 60 days in Cook County jail. There would be no more recovery.

I lied to my friends about how Nicole died. I feared the stigma and shame that comes with addiction. I, along with family, suffered tremendously in silence as my daughter did with her addiction.


MaryAdele Revoy is the drug free grant coordinator and director of research and development at Family Resource Center of Sheboygan County and chairman of the HSC2020 AODA committee.