Kevin was born on the 13th of December 1972 and he was just a lovely baby. There weren’t any problems to worry about and he continued to grow into a happy and contented toddler. At the age of 4, he entered nursery school and settled down enjoying the interaction with his friends.
Around the age of 10, we started to notice that his behaviour was changing to more challenging and confrontational behaviour. He was a very articulate boy with a passion for reading and cooking and frequently made meals for us as a family.
During this time he was getting ready to leave primary school and moving on to secondary and we put his behaviour down to the move as it can be a daunting task for a child. Unfortunately, his behaviour only got worse and this led to exclusion from school. At an interview with the school, I asked for help into why Kevin was acting the way that he was. We were referred to a psychologist who told us Kevin had a high IQ and had a problem controlling his behaviour as he was frustrated. We were introduced to a social worker alongside the psychologist and they recommended a stay in an assessment centre to monitor him.
Then the nightmare started.
We lost our boy the day he entered that establishment. And worst still, Kevin was on the receiving end of that nightmare.
He was abused while in the care of these monsters unknown to us. This had a huge impact on his mental health and he started self-harming and self-medicating with drugs. We were at a loss as to why this was happening.
When we found out what had been going on at these centres, it then made sense as to why he started using drugs. It was a way to escape the horrors in his head. He told me many times that he would be better off dead. It was so very sad to see the person you loved most in the world fade away and lose the will to live.
We lost our beautiful boy on the 24th of October 2001, aged 28.
The devastation of a drug-related death hits the family hard and I wasn’t prepared for the harrowing eight weeks waiting for his body to be released. So many emotions going around in my head. Why can’t I see him? Touch him? Cuddle him? It was so cold and impersonal. I wanted to shout out ‘this is my lovely boy, I want to be with him’ but being an ongoing criminal investigation, this was not allowed to happen. It is tragic to be treated in that way. It just should not happen.
My son was ill in so many ways. He was punished again and again by those custodians at the centres and by society. Support at that time wasn’t available and I wasn’t sure where to turn.
However, as the years passed a friend introduced me to Scottish Families and this is what set me on a path of discovery. I learned that I was not on my own which was a huge relief, although sad at the circumstances leading to that grief.
Through Scottish Families, I learned about addiction and how best to cope and look after myself. I have since been involved in many wonderful adventures with Scottish Families and have huge respect for the work they do.
Acknowledging grief is important as it lets you move on with your life. However, not everyone’s grief comes at the same time. But when that time comes you need to seek help and share it with family, friends and support groups. The feeling of knowing that others have been through that journey is a comfort. I have made lifelong friends from these groups that I will cherish and be grateful for. They helped me continue in life and to think of my son without feeling sad. I treasure the time I had with him in a positive way, and that comes from listening and speaking with others.
We are here to support you if you are concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use. We can chat, offer advice and information, and link you either into our own services or services local to you.