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To addicts: Here is what life is like after you overdose and die

I got halfway to work this morning before I realized I had forgotten my cell phone. I drove back home and walked into my bedroom. My phone was plugged into the charger on the bedside table.

My dog was missing. During the day he usually sleeps on my bed or on his bed, which is beside my bed. I called his name.

He didn’t come.

Patrick assembling kids’ bikes at a charity bike giveaway before his last Christmas in 2015

I walked into the hallway, looking for him. I found him lying on the floor in my daughter’s room – on the spot where I found my roommate’s body after he overdosed.

It could not have been comfortable for my dog. He is old and the floor is tile. He must have wriggled to get there. The spot where Patrick died is half under the bed.

My dog, named Dog, didn’t get up. He usually does when I come in. He just looked at me longingly. It was the second time since Patrick died that I found him there – a spot where he had never laid before.

“You miss, Patrick, huh?,” I asked him. “I do, too.”

Then I left.

To all you addicts out there who think it can’t happen to you, or you don’t care if it does…it can happen and we do care. In the few seconds it takes you to push the plunger of that syringe, you rip a gaping hole in our lives. For us, there is life before you died and life after we find your body on the floor or get the knock on the door in the middle of the night.

It has taken a lot of therapy with a lot more ahead to deal with this. At first, I saw Patrick on the floor every time I walked by. I could feel myself shaking you and hear myself pleading with you to wake up as the 911 operator asked questions I could not answer.

Now, when I walk into that room a wave of emotion engulfs me. The best and worst memories of my life are in that room. That bedroom was my daughter’s – the room where I changed her diapers, sung her lullabies, and taught her to pray.

Today my daughter won’t go into her bedroom. When she comes to visit she stays with her father. Some days I close the door. But most days now – after nearly a year – I leave it open. I don’t see Patrick’s body on the floor anymore.

I understand that these consequences are not enough to make an addict stop. Years of my own drinking and drugging and more years of studying the science of addiction have taught me that addicts have lost control. You cannot stop without help and even if you get help – treatment – many of you will still die. I get it.

This is why I am not mad at Patrick. I have been angry with myself for not recognizing Patrick’s relapse and furious at others for not telling me, but I do not have an ounce of anger towards him. I am just thoroughly heartbroken. So is Dog.

To addicts: Here is what life is like after you overdose and die

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2017). To addicts: Here is what life is like after you overdose and die. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 31 Jan 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Jan 2017
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