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Side Effects

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Side Effects

I am submitting a photo of a painting that I finished just 3 months before my mother lost her life to her addiction in 2010. The title of this painting is 'Side Effects' and it is the best way for me to describe what it feels like to grieve for a parent while they are still alive in their addicition.

My mother struggled with her addiction to pain medication for most of my life. In my painting I have included a letter that my mom sent to me while she was clean and incarcerated, and she told me what she wanted more than anything was to be there for me and to be a good mom. At the time I didn't believe her, I was angry because I felt like my mother was choosing drugs over me and I really, really needed her. It was from that place that the inspiration for this painting drew.

After my mom passed away her words resounded with me differently, however. I realized that what she said in the letter was true, that she really did want to be a good mom, just as much as any mother wants to be there for their child... but the horrifying truth is that is the exact extent that drugs and alcohol can control and destroy our lives. My mother was a good person, and she really loved me. She was no better and loved no differently than I do. She made a mistake that made her lose control of her life, to the point where she could not be what comes most naturally to us. Almost like a spiritual possession, a 'side effect' to the medication.

The words in her letter spoke to me after her passing because she said everything she would have told me if she were alive, and it helped me. It was like she was finally there for me.

This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

Guest Book


1. Heather
I am so sorry for your loss. Your story helped me have compassion and realize my dad did love me he was just hooked on pills. Also this hits home with me because I too became an addict/alcoholic and I really felt like I loved people even though I was treating everybody like trash. In fact I didn't realize how badly I treated everyone until I sobered up. So it is so true the person loves and the addiction distorts and destroys.
2. Jane
great painting. so sorry for your loss.