It's time to stop blaming the victims of drug overdose

Katherine - posted on 07/28/2011 ( 41 moms have responded )

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http://blogs.babble.com/babble-voices/ho...

This is about Amy Winehouse. But I have a more personal similar story to share.

One of my best friends overdosed the other night on pills. They didn't find her until 1pm the next day. She was rushed to the hospital.

All I know are bits and pieces:

She is brain dead
she had 5 strokes
she's on life support
her parents are donating her organs tomorrow when they take her off of life support

It's only been a few days and already hope is lost. I had another friend where the same thing happened, car accident, brain dead, took her off of life support and donated her organs.

At what point do you lose that faith? When do you feel so hopeless after 2 days that you decide to do this? Why not get other opinions? There are stories of people coming out of this.

Maybe I'm just being foolish.....

I've been up all night thinking about this. If I had a daughter in that situation, I would do everything I could to keep her alive.

They also just lost their son to a car accident 5 years ago. So they will have no one left.

What would you do?

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Sal - posted on 07/29/2011

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my dad spent about 6 months in rehab with alchole and yes the withdrawal had him hospitalised, it was cruel and as many an alcholholic will say it is enough to make you drink again just to stop the agony, just like anyother drug withrawal

Kellie - posted on 07/28/2011

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I saw that too Becky, and I think Amy's Parents are living in the land of denial. There's footage of her clearly off her face trying to perform a concert what 3 days before her death? Not to mention Alcohol wasn't her only Addiction....

Kellie - posted on 07/28/2011

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"Amy Winehouse may have been a drug addict, it was a drug dealer who killed her"

I disagree.

Amy chose to use drugs. Do I think it was tragic and absolutely no shock whatsoever? Yep.

However absolving her and those like her from any blame/responsibility for their actions and shifting it onto the dealers really doesn't help anyone in my opinion. At the root of addiction is someone who can't cope with their reality, who is lacking in self belief/worth, who is using their chosen addiction to hide behind if you will.

I think people need to stand up and take responsibility for themselves, their actions and their choices instead of trying to pass the buck. You are the only one in charge of you so take charge damnit.

As for the second part of your OP Katherine, I watched my Mother die from AIDS, slowly and painfully and you have NO idea how I wished the fucking do gooders would shut the fuck up and quit objecting to Euthanasia so I could humanely put her to sleep. So if my child or SO or whoever was determined to be Brain Dead, yes I would pul the plug.

Christina - posted on 07/29/2011

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To clarify, You CAN NOT come back from being brain dead. Once the brain shuts down, it is over. You can shock a heart to make it start, but you can not shock a brain. Lack of oxygen cause the brain to swell inside the skull and the pressure can not be relieved by drilling like in the case of head trauma. Once the brain swells so much, there is no recovery. If you are lucky, you end up with a handicapped child/adult that is now reverted to an infantile state. They are usually a vegetable that can do nothing for themselves and a lot are on feeding tubes. Once the brain dies, it can no longer send signals to the other parts of the body. It ceases all organs to stop functioning. You are dead. Your body may still be breathing and heart still beating due to life support, but the body is dead. And no matter what, once brain death occurs, the heart and lungs can not work without life support. And what good is life support for a person who is dead?

Karla - posted on 07/29/2011

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Becky said, “I heard on the radio tonight that her family thinks it was actually withdrawals from alcohol, not a drug overdose, that killed her.”
I’m not very knowledgeable on this, but whereas I have heard of terrible withdrawals from drugs, I have not heard of it with alcohol. Has anyone heard of that phenomenon?

I guess it doesn’t matter. Her family is obviously in a lot of pain.

I think it’s important to have compassion for those who “choose” to use alcohol and drugs; so many people are actually self-medicating other problems. I find it’s very helpful when these life changing, life taking events happen that it helps to pray (or meditate) for forgiveness to the victim, the family on to one’s self.

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Katherine - posted on 07/29/2011

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Oh and they did donate her organs, although I'm wondering how with all of the drugs.

Christina - posted on 07/29/2011

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I'm a nurse. I've seen families hold onto hope too long and are broken hearted. I've seen families NOT let go when in reality it is kinder to let go. I've had to live through the death of my own goddaughter (whom I love as much as my own children.) I've had to cope with her being on life support for five days and having to live with the grief when she had to be removed.
I've seen miracles, and I've seen tragedies. If another life can be saved through my families tragedy, I am going to do it. If I can spare another mother the pain of her child's death by giving her child my daughter's heart, I will do it. If my son's liver helps another boy, then I will give it. The time capacity you are talking about is a fragile line. Once brain death occurs, the person is dead, regardless of life support. The organs will begin to die, toxins are released. There is no way to save them. (Hense why death is now declared not when a person stops breathing but when they are brain dead.)
Some families can not handle struggling for days on end, weeks on end, to possibly save their child when their child will end up in a vegetative state if they are lucky! I would not want to live if I had no control over my body or mind. And I would not subject my children to that either if they were injured to the point of being in vegetative state.

Katherine - posted on 07/29/2011

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@ America, so I'm selfish for wanting them to keep her alive for more than 2 days? This is my best friend, you could have worded that differently.

Katherine - posted on 07/29/2011

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@ Becky, I too heard Amy died of alcohol withdrawals. Although that usually happens within a week.

Katherine - posted on 07/29/2011

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I agree Tara, her organs probably are full of drugs. I wonder how that works.

She was 30 and had accidentally overdosed many times. This time she just REALLY did it.

America3437 - posted on 07/29/2011

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I used to feel the same way but then I became a CNA and worked with many patients that have had family make the decision to keep them alive in hopes of one day they will recover. This to me is selfish! The quality of life is lost. They are just alive! They are bathed, fed, and taken care of by someone else. They no longer have the ability to even use the restroom so they lay in there own waste till someone notices they need to be changed.They can no longer express the fact that they maybe in pain. Could you let this person whom you obviously care for live like this?

Sal - posted on 07/29/2011

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katherine, i feel so sorry for you right now, watching helplessly while others make decsions about someone you love is the most painful and frustrating thing you can go through....all i can say to help you come to peace with their decision, is that you say she isn;t ready to go.....will she able to recover enough to finish what she has left undone? it doens;t sound like it, so even if she dies now or in 5 or 10 years time she still won;t be ready, there will be nothing achieved from this point forward, let her go peacfully, and live with the very small smile that her organs helping someone else can give you...(i had a freinds son die on the waiting list, and it was the worst funeral i could ever imagine, think of helping someone like her)

Kellie - posted on 07/29/2011

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It would be amazing if when I clicked "here to see it" (Peoples Posts) I could actually see their post!

Sal - posted on 07/29/2011

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this is every parents worst nightmare, but prolonging the enevitable donsn;t make the outcome any easier, brain dead is a no win outcome, a coma whole other issue but brain dead is just that...
and yes drug dealers are the scum of the earth and they pray on the vunerable and thrive on the desperation of their customers, there is no benifit i users sobering up and i do not doubt for i moment that they don;t bait those who are trying to quit, but the user is ultimatly responsible for the situation they end up in, you can not blame someone for every bad choice you make, to start using drugs is you choice (yes i know there is always someone who was forcibly made to use but on the whole it is your body your choice) where you put your self in the position to have this happen to you, it might happen with your first hit, it might slowly kill you or you might live a long life inspite of the drugs but the one thing i know for sure is that if you never start they won;t kill you..

Becky - posted on 07/28/2011

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I'm very sorry about your friend, Katherine. That is so sad. I know if it were my child, pulling the plug would just kill me, but I don't think you can come back from brain dead. If there was any brain function at all, I'm pretty sure I'd hang in there hoping for a miracle, but I think brain dead means no brain function whatsoever.
In regards to Amy Winehouse, I heard on the radio tonight that her family thinks it was actually withdrawals from alcohol, not a drug overdose, that killed her. Apparently she had decided to stop drinking cold turkey.

Becky - posted on 07/28/2011

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I'm very sorry about your friend, Katherine. That is so sad. I know if it were my child, pulling the plug would just kill me, but I don't think you can come back from brain dead. If there was any brain function at all, I'm pretty sure I'd hang in there hoping for a miracle, but I think brain dead means no brain function whatsoever.
In regards to Amy Winehouse, I heard on the radio tonight that her family thinks it was actually withdrawals from alcohol, not a drug overdose, that killed her. Apparently she had decided to stop drinking cold turkey.

Karla - posted on 07/28/2011

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People have come out of comas, but I don't think you really "come out of" brain dead. It's a whole different problem.

(edit for coma & - I am truly sorry about your friend.)

Stifler's - posted on 07/28/2011

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I also have to fully agree with the article. Dealers are partially to blame. They are seeing a person come to them repeatedly for drugs, losing weight losing hair looking awful and still supplying them drugs and watching them slowly die.

Stifler's - posted on 07/28/2011

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Being brain dead they would most likely come out a vegetable and I've seen too many people "live" like that for years to do it to someone I love. I've seen what ONE stroke alone can do and it isn't pretty. my friend's 3 year old drowned in their bathtub and was brain dead and I think she was only on life support 2 days. The only good thing about this is that by the time the person goes the worst of the grieving is over.

Ez - posted on 07/28/2011

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Amy Winehouse was a time bomb. Is it a shame that she's gone? Of course. But am I sad or shocked? Nope. I feel sorry for her family, but she had ample opportunity to get clean. More opportunity than any 'normal' person.

Katherine I'm very sorry for what you're dealing with. But there is nothing to 'keep alive'. It's not a lack of faith. There is no way back from being brain dead. She's already gone :(

Jenn - posted on 07/28/2011

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I would imagine the five strokes did significant damage and that is what her parents are taking into consideration. The burden of having to make the choice when and if to remove a loved one from life support has to be excruciating. I think one has to do what is best for the person on life support, not for our own need to keep them alive. My 19 year old cousin had cystic fibrosis and her lungs quit on her while waiting on the transplant list. Once she got on the ventilator, the clock started ticking for her and after three days, no lungs in sight and rapidly detriorating organ function, my aunt had to let her go. Free her from suffering. That was truly a Mother's love for her child.

I am so sorry that your friend made the choice she did. So devastating because now everyone who loves her is experiencing such deep sorrow and will again once her parents have her taken off life support. I am sure they never would dream of doing so if there was a glimmer of hope for her
recovery.

Rosie - posted on 07/28/2011

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i'm not sure what i would do. chad has told me he doesn't want to be kept on life support.
i on the other hand am not sure what i want for myself. i have this weird sense of hope that i might snap out of it or something, however unrational that may be.
ultimately though, i think i would give it more than two days, but i would pull the plug on my child if there was no hope. i' would just have to come to terms with it in my head first, which i believe would take longer than two days. much longer...

Amber - posted on 07/28/2011

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Chad and I have talked about this in regards to what we want. I told him that if I am brain dead, I do not want to be kept on life support. If there is minimal brain activity and no hope for me to be anything but a vegetable, I don't want to be kept on life support. I don't want to put my family through the pain of waiting for something that will not happen, nor do I want them to incur the expense.

If I have brain activity and there is a chance that I can have a normal life, then he should keep me on it. Being that he is in the medical field, he'll understand all of it and be able to make an informed decision as to my future. My mom also knows all of this, just in case.

I believe, when there is hope you keep going. But when there is no hope, you have to be able to let go and let death come with a semblance of dignity.

Katherine, you have to remember that your friend is no longer there. When somebody is pronounced brain dead, there is no chance for brain function to come back. The brain is no longer doing involuntary things like breathing. The miracles that one hears about are of people who are in persistent/permanent vegetative states.
It's so hard to let people go young and it's truly a tragedy.

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Right now, I watch my father suffer daily. He has End STage Renal Disease. He is not a candidate for transplant. He has constant diabetic ulcers on his feet. He is in a lot of pain every single day. HIs mind is mostly gone and what's left of him is a vindictive, nasty man. In the last 8 days, he's fallen more than 15 times. He's back in the hospital now with pneumonia.

In December 2009, he was on life support. On Christmas day that year, my brother and I were offered that choice. We chose to keep him going. Now I wish I hadn't for he and the rest of us suffer every day since that point.

Nikki - posted on 07/28/2011

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I am torn, I know that part of me would selfishly want to keep my loved one alive just in case of a miracle. But when I think rationally in this kind of situation it is probably kinder to turn off the life support because as others have said, what kind of life could she possibly lead?

I think as we get older it become more apparent that life is not fair, life is precious and too short for some. I am sorry for your loss, I hope your ok.

Tara - posted on 07/28/2011

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So sad about your friend Katherine.
If the overdose patient has been assessed by a neurosurgeon and had all available tests for brain activity, then I would likely leave it a week, just because I would.
Given that she is this way because of a drug over dose, I wonder which organs can be donated. Most of her internal organs, especially her liver and kidneys would be wrecked by the drugs.

There are stories of people coming out of comas, but most of them are coming out of comas that were induced by hypothermia, head wounds, accidents, neurological infections such as meningitis etc.
I think with an overdose due to pills or illicit drugs, the outcome is going to be brain death and organ failure.
I would take her off the life support, donate what can be donated and put my energy into preventing other senseless deaths.
Sorry to hear about your friend Katherine.
My cousin died last month of an accidental overdose of prescription pain killers and anti-depressants. There was nothing in his body that could be donated, not even his eyes.

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I hate to ask but was your friend known for abusing substances?
I think that would have some standing in how soon i would pull the plug but also the 5 strokes. Helping my child for the rest of their life in doing everything for them is not appealing to me and i doubt it would be quality of life for them.
For me it would come down to quality of life and their age.

Kellie - posted on 07/28/2011

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That may very well be true, I don't think most people are, I would imagine it would be harder when one has unfinished business too.

Unfortunately ready or not her choices shaped her outcome and it's no longer up to her, I do hope she finds what she was looking for in the next part of her journey though.

Kellie - posted on 07/28/2011

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Here a question Katherine, if knowing all that and the person in charge of making the decision decides to wait, decides to hold on, decides to see what happens, decides to give their loved one a chance despite knowing for all intents and purposes their loved is dead, who are they really holding on for? Who is the hope really for? The person who's being artificially kept 'alive' or the person who loves them?

Kellie - posted on 07/28/2011

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And that's not a bad thing, hope is never bad. The hard part is letting go....

Kellie - posted on 07/28/2011

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If there was no brain activity yes. Not to mention the other things you said. Even if by some miracle your friend (or anyone who'd suffered that) woke they wouldn't be them, they'd have no quality of life, so yeah, even after 2 days.

Katherine - posted on 07/28/2011

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I disagree with that statement too. She killed herself.

I'm sorry you watched your mother die of AIDS.
You would pull the plug after 2 days?

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