A woman who lost her son to a drug overdose said she struggled to cope with the stigma and isolation.
Caroline Butler’s son Kevin passed away 18 years ago at the age of 28 after battling addictions for almost half his life.
Now an activist for Aberdeen in Recovery (AiR), Caroline, 74, called for more support to be given to families.
And in the final part of a series looking at AiR’s work in the city, she described the devastating impact of Kevin’s addiction – both before and after his death.
Caroline said: “Kevin got into trouble at school and he ended up in assessment centres.
“He was there until he was 16 and came out totally ill-equipped for the world. He started self-medicating with heroin. It just grew and he was in prison many times.
“When he finally got out of prison he was free of drugs at that time, but when he got home he started delving in again.
“He was actually six months abstinent and one day his girlfriend wanted to get some. He went along with her and he lapsed.
“He died that day on the pavement outside his dealer’s house.”
Caroline, from Kittybrewster, added: “It had a huge impact on the family. Addiction is a never-ending process and we had many years of it.
“I suffered a lot of stigma within my own family and that has a huge impact on your own health.
“My life revolved around Kevin. I worked full-time as a nurse and I went to work every day just waiting for a policeman to come in and tell me his life had ended.
“One of the big things that happens is you become completely isolated.
“You feel you can’t tell anyone about it. I didn’t feel ashamed but I felt they wouldn’t understand.
“I blamed myself. I felt that, as a mother, I should have been able to stop this happening but it just doesn’t work like that.”
AiR has launched a new family support group and poster campaign, offering peer support to those struggling with addictions and their families.
Caroline, who also runs a bereavement support group, added: “If AiR had been there, it’s somewhere I would have chosen to go because there are peers there who know what you’re talking about and know what you are going through.”
Caroline said she feels angry at what she believes is a lack of action to reduce the number of drug deaths in Scotland.
“I’m in a reference group that’s feeding back to the Scottish Government about it and I am actually really angry.
“These people are not figures or statistics. They are human beings and there are mothers and fathers that are fighting to save their children but they are getting no help and I want that to change.”
Get in Touch
- Aberdeen in Recovery Family Support Group meets on Fridays 1-3pm fortnightly at AiR Community Rooms at Elim Church on Marischal Street.
- The Family Bereavement Group meets on the first Tuesday of each month from noon-1pm at the Credo Centre on John Street.
- Contact AiR on 01224 638342, 07936 800808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Alcohol and Drugs Action also holds fortnightly family support meetings from 7-9pm at 2 Imperial Place.
- Contact ADA on 01224 594700, 07927 192706 or e-mail email@example.com