I am a mother of 3 children. When my youngest son was a freshman in high school, he was offered marijuana by a “friend,” which began his horrible journey deeper and deeper into addiction.

He worked for a time and even went to college, getting a degree from DeVry. But during these years, his addiction escalated and caused him to go to harder drugs such as cocaine and then prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, to get the same high as before.

When I confronted him with his drug use and drug tested him, as I would do often, he would try to give it up, but would fall back into the addiction. It’s very difficult to stop without help. So, it’s better never to start. On several occasions he became angry and on a couple of occasions, violent. He never hit me, but he punched a hole in a bedroom door, broke a mirror and damaged the home wall phone.

He was suicidal on more than one occasion and held a loaded gun to his head.

He resorted to selling drugs to make money to pay for his habit because he could no longer hold a job.

He had no idea how many Vicodin he was using daily as his body craved more and more of the addictive prescription drug and his memory was foggy. He had found a doctor who would write him prescriptions for Vicodin and in turn, he would supply him with cocaine. The doctor is no longer in practice and I believe is serving time in prison. My son would take the prescriptions to different drug stores and pay cash for the supply.

I know my son wanted to stop taking the drugs. He was a good person deep down but had gotten into something that had such a tight hold on him, he couldn’t break free. He had even gotten into a pipe fitters apprenticeship with a union and was going to begin the following week. He was starting a job and trying to stop taking drugs and do better with his life, but it was too late.

He called me on a Friday afternoon while I was with my husband at a doctor’s office. My husband has stage 4 cancer of the esophagus.

My son sounded terrible and said he was really sick. For him to do that, I knew he had to be very bad. He never complained. I called 911 and an ambulance took him to the hospital where testing showed he was in multiple organ failure. His liver and kidneys had stopped working. He was intubated and air lifted to a hospital in Chicago where they put him on life support with only hours to live. Normally they won’t do this for drug addicts, but because he was starting a job and had a wonderful girlfriend, they put him put on the national donor list for a liver and kidney. He was 26 years of age, at the prime of his life. The doctors told me it didn’t look good and not to get my hopes up.

His temperature was going up, his blood pressure was rising, he was developing pancreatitis and his brain was swelling. They drilled a hole in his skull to insert a gauge to monitor the brain pressure. At any time, they could take his name off the donor list if he passed a certain point of no return.

I pray and trust God for everything. But I never prayed so fervently as I did during the next hours. My son was dying in one hospital and my husband was dying in a different hospital. It was a nightmare that I wanted to wake up from, but couldn’t. I never felt despair and hopelessness as I did during this time. I’m crying as I write this as the memory is so painful.

After 25 hours, a team of doctors that had flown to another state to examine a liver and kidney from a person who had been in a motorcycle accident, called to say it was a match and they were coming back with the organs. The doctors and nurses were stunned. They told me this doesn’t happen. People wait for months and often die without finding a match for the organ they’re in need of.

God gave my son a second chance and has a plan for his life.

Because Illinois lawmakers foolishly legalized marijuana for “medical” purposes, there will be an increase in adolescent and teen use. When marijuana is wrongly believed to be medicine, the risk of harm goes down and usage goes up. There’s ample evidence to support this statement.

Marijuana is addictive and far worse than most people think. And it has more adverse effects on young people. It is more harmful to the lungs than cigarettes. It causes psychological problems and even schizophrenia. It can cause tumors. There’s no reason to use it for any purpose.

My strong recommendation to families who have a child who is using is to get help. There are professionals who do interventions. There are good facilities that offer help for those with drug addictions. Do whatever it takes to help your child stop using. Do whatever it takes to prevent your child from taking the first hit. I don’t want any parent to go through what I went through. My husband went home to be with the Lord for all of eternity, but my son has a second chance that he was given by God to finish the work He has for him while still here. I thank God for giving him a second chance.

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