Personal Stories

Get advice and perspective from families who have also been impacted by substance use or addiction.

On September 1, 2014, I drove my oldest son in an overloaded car to Worcester State University.  I had never felt such pride in my 18 years of parenthood. I dreamt of this milestone. For months, I planned, shopped and looked toward an incredibly bright future.
Valentine’s Day is normally filled with roses and candy, happiness and memories of celebrating the ones we love. I had always been a mom to make a big deal of holidays and birthdays and just as I was staring at my son’s Valentine’s gift bag, our phone rang. At 8:37 pm, on February 14, 2021, our world changed forever.
On a Thursday morning in October, Sandy Snodgrass was given the news that no parent should ever have to hear. Her son, Robert Bruce Snodgrass, was found dead. He had died from a fentanyl overdose.
What happens when some deaths are considered more socially acceptable than others?
Addiction comes in so many forms, and I think mental health and its connection to substance use disorders are not talked about enough. So, I’m talking about it, and this is my story.
When someone – including a teenager – gets treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, it is standard practice to identify some of the reasons why they started using and the benefits they feel they get from these substances.
On July 9, 2021, we lost our oldest child, Rory, to an opioid overdose. He was 29 years old. Summarizing the last 20 years of Rory’s struggle with ADHD, mental health and substance use feels daunting. I remember the day he was born being overwhelmed by the need to keep him safe. It is heartbreaking when you realize that you aren’t always able to protect your children.
I’ll never forget the day my father told me he struggled with drug addiction. I was in the second grade.
When a parent finally realizes that their child’s drug use isn’t “just a phase,” they begin the terrifying journey to finding some kind of remedy. It would be helpful if that journey weren’t marked by wrong information, stigmatizing opinions, predatory service providers and an uneducated medical community.
A decade ago, at the beginning of the opioid epidemic, my son, Corey, died of a heroin overdose at age 23. I knew so little about opioid addiction when Corey struggled. I didn’t know anyone with a child who had died, let alone from an overdose.
My younger brother, Marc, passed away from a heroin overdose. He was only 29 years old. Marc struggled with substance use disorder for many years and it all began back in November 2010.
I really wanted this opportunity to help guide people to a reliable resource for addiction information and support. It's something I wish I'd had and something I have seen friends and family struggle to find.
Through the parent coach program, I had learned how to care for me and how to live life again. Missing that call didn’t change anything, and it certainly didn’t make it any less devastating.
Partners for Hope Marathon team member Jason Brown shares his recovery journey, which has included lots of running. Writes Jason, "Today, for Dominick, I see it as my responsibility to keep him away from the path that I took those years ago, and with this responsibility comes the need for honesty and communication."
Partners for Hope Marathon Team member McCord Henry write, "Running is my time to process. It’s my time to think and get my aggression out on the pavement. It confirms that I am free from addiction and able to put good out into the world."
Partners for Hope Marathon Team member Lauren DiGaimo shares her family's story of loss, and the way it has inspired her own vocal advocacy in support of other families facing the challenges of addiction.
How do we help a loved one who is struggling with substance use?
I attribute the gift of starting my recovery journey almost entirely to my family.
I sat down to tell Casey’s story and talk about what she and so many others go through, and how where there’s breath, there’s hope.
I am but one of tens of millions of incredible recovery stories. Let’s find yours.
When I saw Neil for the first time after he had left for rehab, I immediately knew my brother was coming back to us.
We do not “consent” to the pain and misery, the shame and fear, the despair of addiction.
Substance use disorder is a family disease. I know how losing a brother can cause an irreversible ripple effect on the family.
I thought if I loved my son enough, he could recover. It took time to learn that he has a disease and that he needed help to manage it.
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