An Unfinished Masterpiece

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Before he died from heroin on May 31, 2014, I would often refer to my son Anthony as “a work in progress.”

He could be mean, rude and selfish. But he could also be generous, kind and loving. And he was working on becoming more of the latter and less of the former.

He just needed more time to get there.

He had serious anger management issues. He would often fly into a rage when he didn’t get his way, but he would always apologize for his outburst later. And he was learning to control his outbursts and was working on being more patient.

He just needed more time to get there.

He had a substance abuse problem. It didn’t define him, but it dominated the last six of his 24 years of life. He would get clean and then the siren call of heroin would lure him back one more time. He was learning what he needed to do to stay clean and he was getting closer to recovery.

He just needed more time to get there.

Tragically, he didn’t get that time. He went back to heroin one time too many and it killed him.

Anthony was precious and special and unique. But his story, sadly, is not. One hundred twenty nine (129) Americans die every single day from drug overdoses. And all of you who have also lost a loved one to a drug overdose have also lost someone who was precious and special and unique. And though you may not have used those words, you probably also thought of your loved one as “a work in progress” and prayed, or wished, that they could have more time.

Time for a bad habit to be exchanged for a healthy lifestyle; time for a hijacked brain to rewire itself; time for the cravings to become manageable and to learn the necessary skills to overcome them.

Ninety (90) days of in-patient drug treatment – the minimum time recommended by experts — can give someone struggling with addiction the time they need to begin to heal. We need to require that that time be provided to every victim of the disease of addiction who wants it. Anthony’s Act is a movement seeking to make long term treatment a reality.

So, if you haven’t signed the petition in support of Anthony’s Act, please do so today. To the 41,700 plus who have already stepped up – signed, shared, lobbied – please accept my heartfelt thanks and please keep up the fight to bring attention to this serious health care crisis. To those who have only signed, I also say “thank you” and I respectful ask that you take the next step: share the petition everywhere you can and seek support from decision makers with the ability to spread the word ever farther. You have more power than you may realize. Please use it.

Let’s stop having to say “if only he (or she) had had more time.” Let’s give those suffering with addiction a real chance at recovery.

Thank You.