Son’s opiate addiction hits home for this mom

Anthony and Family Opiate addiction

Anthony his mother and little brother.

My name is Gina DeMaria. My son Anthony was 16 years when he broke his femur riding in a motocross race. Anthony was a great athlete in baseball, wrestling as well as football. His father and I were divorced so motocross became a sport him and his father could do together.

By the time my son was three years old he could ride a pedal bike with no training wheels! Of course soon after he became interested and started riding motorcycles. Throughout his childhood he even placed in a lot of races. He was once even the Maryland State Champion for his age group! Some of his trophies stood taller than he was and he was always so proud.

Anthony has even made it to the nationals at the Loretta Lynn’s Championship. Coming around the last turn his bike broke down but he was determined to finish. He got off and ran the rest of the way pushing his motorcycle. He didn’t get first place but he finished in the top 20.

The beginning of Anthony’s opiate addiction

On July 7th of 2007 Anthony’s father called me as I was home with Anthony’s four week old brother. He told me Anthony had been hurt during a motocross race. Anthony was operated on and a rod was placed in his femur. We spent almost six months at Sinia Hospital in Baltimore, doing intense rehabilitation with what they called land and water therapy.

My son was in excruciating pain and is what ultimately what began Anthony’s opiate addiction. He was prescribed enormous amounts of the pain medication Oxycontin.

“I even questioned the doctor about the dosage he was receiving. I was told that the femur was the hardest bone in the body and that it was needed for his pain.”

A year later Anthony was healed and he was no longer prescribed pain medication. He then told me he began buying Oxycontin off the street for around $80 a pill. Someone then told him that heroin was like the same thing but better and cheaper. It was only $10 and the beginning of the nightmare. During a seven year period Anthony went to seven rehabs, received jail time and began stealing.

The turn around

Finally in January of 2014 Anthony had been clean for almost one year! He seemed to be done with drugs and putting his life together. On March 30th 2014 I got a dreaded knock on my door. There stood a police officer telling me my son Anthony had been found in a hotel where he had attended a party the night before. I started to get my keys and pocket book asking the police officer where is he, thinking he was in jail. The officer said “No Ms.DeMaria it’s not good, your son passed away, we think from a overdose.”

I couldn’t see or hear anything. And I heard a very loud scream realizing I had fallen to the floor and the scream was actually my own. My son lost his life to heroin and I couldn’t stop it nor could I save or love him enough.

Addiction forces you to leave your loved ones behind

Anthony and Dominic opiate addiction

Anthony and his son Dominic.

I miss my son every minute of every day. He was very much loved and sometimes the sadness is so great it takes my breath away. My life on earth is forever changed. It’s not the natural order that has happened for me or my son. A mother should never bury her child. I was supposed to leave this world first.

“Anthony passed away leaving behind his five year old son, Dominic.”

My grandsons’ mother is also a heroin addict. In the last five years of my grandsons’ life he has lost his father. Dominic has been living between me and his other grandmother. He has only lived in his mother’s care for approximately six months.

However, last November he found his mother in his grandmother’s home with a needle in her arm on the floor. Had he not been smart enough to run and get his grandmother, Dominic’s mother would have died.

Finding a new purpose

Since Anthony’s’ passing I have been spending most of my time helping addicts find recovery. I have started the process of creating a non-profit in my sons’ name called “Anthony’s Way”. Together with other warrior moms we donate backpacks with hygiene products to addicts and ask rehab centers for scholarships. I work with other non-profits to purchase insurance policies to get people in treatment. I even provide transport for people leaving jail to recover centers or sober homes.

Someone once asked why I help them. I help the addicted because I see the person, not the disease.

Everyone has value; some just want to feel like they matter. I think of my son and I hope if he ever needed help someone would have treated him with respect and dignity.

Thanks for hearing my story,

Gina DeMaria