Skip to main content

I understand the question. It's always asked with sympathy and concern. It's not that I take it the wrong way. It's that there is no right way to take it at all. It seems an outrageous question to me because I still don't know how to answer it.

    "How did your son die, Mr. G.?"

After ten years, I still don't know what to say. It is easiest to say he died of a drug overdose. That usually puts an end to the dialogue right then and there. Of course nothing is that simple. He was dying of Hepatitis C. He had a year or two left at best, according to his doctor.

    "Were the drugs medication for his condition, for his pain?"

No, it was heroin.

    "Did he take his own life?"

I didn't think so at first, but now I'm not so sure. There was an earlier attempt I learned about. It may have been a blessing, of course, a more peaceful death at home, versus a drawn out battle in a hospital. Wouldn't any parent prefer that? Doesn't any parent, in fact, ask these sorts of questions over and over and over again. Did I love him enough, could I have done anything else, during his seventeen year battle with drugs and illness? Second guessing is as fruitless as jealousy. It's a dead end exercise that goes nowhere.

So what’s this all about, anyway? Follow me below the fold, as I reinvent the wheel.

What follows is mostly old news. The books documenting government complicity in drug trafficking have been around in some cases since the 1970’s. My own local investigations in which I “reinvented the wheel” are now ten years old. One primary question I am unable to answer at this point is whether this activity still continues today. Of one thing I am sure however, that no moral qualms ever stood in the way of an opportunity to obtain unaccountable and nearly untraceable funds by a clandestine government organization acting “in the national interest.” I am also sure that the war on drugs is a political charade just like the massive local drug dealer roundups just before elections. Sad to say, my cynicism apparently knows no bounds. Let’s get on with it.

Drug death statistics are available on a variety of government and health websites, such as the FDA and the CDC. The difficulty lies in collating them from mixed categories. Illicit drug deaths, according to the FDA, are comprised of those caused by heroin, crack cocaine, and meth. They claim a figure of a little over 17,000 deaths in 2011. Getting to the exact figure from heroin is probably impossible, but it is easily at least 5,000 a year. Combine illicit drugs with prescription drugs and you get a figure topping 56,000 a year. But statistics don't shed tears, and they don't climb trees, have dogs,mothers, fathers, brothers and friends. They don't have runaway thoughts and nightmares. They certainly don't pray.

This diary is culled from my original journal entries and my more recent thoughts.  I think by publishing this here I can finally turn the page on a subject I needed to express myself on but at the same time is so beyond words it is laughable.

    Anger is slippery, hard to cling to, as it constantly changes shape. You exhaust yourself chasing it. Anger, revenge, despondency, rage against God...  most likely you will at least run aground on the island of anger, but it is dangerous to explore, and you need to cast off again as soon as you are able.

    So now this. God says, in case you weren't paying attention the last time, make sense of this. What? My son has to die so I can figure out your plan? I didn't verbalize it quite that way, but the sentiment was there, buried in the coldness that I felt around me. I was not sure where the expression cold as death comes from, but I knew now it was not a reference to the body of the deceased. It described rather how people feel in the presence of death.

    The thoughts cling to one another like dust to static. The dealer who sold the fatal dose I learned was someone named Mike, who lived in Atlanta. Would I seek revenge? To what end? He would merely be replaced by another. My son sold guns on the black market to finance his habit. His probation officer, when asked by me whether the local police knew the source of these guns that everyone else in the community seemed to know about, he said they indeed did, but had to step aside to avoid interfering with ongoing TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) monitoring.

I spent months chasing down the Mexican gang connections to major Tennessee cities, and on both TBI and FBI websites found documents showing they had been monitoring drug distribution by these gangs for years. Two trafficking routes; one through one gang in Nashville, another through a gang in Atlanta.

It was at this point that I stumbled upon a book by Alfred McCoy entitled The Politics of Heroin(1972),  about government complicity worldwide in the trafficking of heroin. My knowledge deepened upon learning how even the FBI would stand aside to avoid interfering with “ongoing” DEA investigations, and finally DEA agents doing the same to avoid compromising CIA operations.  Former undercover DEA agent Michael Levine also chronicled this in Deep Cover(2000).

Up to this point I had been, as I cynically call it, reinventing the wheel; following on my own through talks with our son’s probation officer and a friend who worked for the TBI. Each agency “monitors the small fry” in the hopes of following the trail to the higher ups. The only problem is, the higher ups are U. S. agencies and foreign governments. These conclusions were reached by me after reading the books by McCoy, Levine, and others, which are well documented.  Gary Webb, in Dark Alliance(1996),  documented the CIA’s complicity in the trafficking of cocaine by inner city gangs in L.A., and how drug profits were channeled to the Nicaraguan contras with the assistance of the CIA.  

Dwelling on the cost in wasted lives each time a child dies led me to a feeling of helplessness. What was an appropriate response? Demonizing heroin has as one drawback the postponement of the grief process. But what is more constructive? Healing a shattered heart or channeling anger in an effort to rid ourselves of this scourge? Both? No, these are not rhetorical questions, and they do not elicit easy answers. I have been wrestling with them for ten years, and I'm still no closer to an answer.


Nothing worse than losing a child? I’m not so sure. It’s not a judgement one can make, I don’t believe, unless you’ve experienced the loss of a spouse or a sibling. Our son’s brother rarely talks about the tragedy. I believe he took it harder than us. And for those of you who know someone who has experienced this sort of loss, I beg of you, don’t be afraid or uncomfortable asking them to talk about the child they have lost. From my own experience, we need to talk, and we want to talk. Our son died in 2002. The date is omitted as it is identifiable information. There are some who do not wish me to tell this story, and many others I'd just as soon protect with anonymity.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  As Hillary said, "There's too much money in it." (8+ / 0-)

    From the documents you cite  on the CIA, to the Doctors, Coroners and Morticians who make money off the sick and and the dead. There are the Judges who are paid to incarcerate by the privatized penal corporations. The Police who add to their budgets by impounding houses and cars. Everyone has a vested interest in continuing this disgusting war on US Citizens.
      I could never fully feel or understand your loss, but I want you to know that it pisses me off almost as much as you must be. The people who fight against the needle programs are murderers in my book. They spread disease as if they were themselves injecting Aids and HepC into their victims.
     I hope you find some balance in the years to come, and want you to know that there are people out here who want things to change.

    "The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced." -Zappa My Site

    by meagert on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 04:17:19 PM PST

    •  All of this is a subject which has been near and.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      meagert, semiot

      ...dear to me. The string of greedy, opportunistic bastards who have fingers in this huge pie is incredible. Probation and police officers. Prosecutors. Defense attorneys. Private prisons. Prison suppliers (a big one.) Prison unions. All the ancillary services and goods that go to the administration of the prison goes to the office supply stores, the plumbers, the other businesses who benefit from a prison in there town. It brings "jobs" (if you can live with yourself.) It brings a modicum of prosperity to otherwise dying towns.

      The downside? The wanton destruction of peoples lives for something which should be treated as a medical issue and not a criminal one.

      About 20% of our prison population is in there for drug offenses. We have 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the total number of prisoners in the world!

      For me, the ultimate failure and demonstration of the senselessness of the Drug War is simply this: you can buy any drug you want inside most prisons. Even Super-Max prisons.

      I had hep c. I went through treatment and have been virus free for about 3 1/2 years.  And you're correct about needle exchange programs, though I got mine from a hospital patient needle-stick.  Good luck to anyone dealing with that.

      "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

      by CanisMaximus on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:27:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm so sorry for your loss (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, meagert, Calamity Jean

    There are thousands of people fighting to change drug policy and remove stigma.  If my sister hadn't been a heroin addict until her death though, I probably wouldn't know about any of them. does lots of good work with grief recovery relating to losing a child to substance overdose.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site