Life stood still

One citizen’s story of watching her child fight opiate addiction

“I was extremely terrified. I didn’t understand it.”

Marci Davis lived through six years of watching her son, Jacob, suffer from addiction to opiates. She said she was paralyzed with fear: fear of him dying from his addiction, fear of casting him out into homelessness and untold dangers, fear of not knowing where, or how, he was.

“I had a lot of friends and family members telling me, ‘You have to just throw him out, just wash your hands of him if he’s not trying.’ But I felt like he was trying,” she said.

At his best—if that word can even apply—during his addiction, Jacob would quit on his own, go through withdrawal and detox, and be sober a couple of months. But eventually he would relapse. At his worst, Jacob was overdosing or in jail. Mostly, he merely existed: selling everything he owned to get high, moving from job to job, nodding off in the middle of conversations, somehow finishing alternative high school, missing his graduation, family reunions, picnics.

Marci remembers feeling like a robot, going through the motions. Her son’s addiction was never far from her mind as she moved through life.

“Every minute I was so worried sick, wanting to know where he is, what he’s doing. Everything was falling apart. My nerves were frayed every second.”

Marci began going for long walks, often for one or two hours, thinking. She found the daily walks helped clear her head, but she never was sure the right way to respond to Jacob’s addiction. Her parents and siblings supported her through it all.

“The four of them constantly told me they loved me, that they loved Jacob. They said, ‘We understand exactly every decision that you’re making.’ They tried to just be beside me during that.”

Others, including her husband at the time, gave different advice.

“I heard from everyone else, ‘You’re not doing the right thing. If I was you, I would do this and I would do that.’ My marriage absolutely didn’t survive. That was the last straw for me.”

The weeks Jacob eventually spent in jail were the worst of Marci’s life, she said.

“It seemed like my heart broke every single minute of that three weeks. I had to see him through a glass. I would put my hand on the glass and he would put his hand on the other side and tell me that he loved me, and I just wanted to die. I didn’t want to see him caged up like an animal. Although I didn’t want to have to see him on drugs either. Either way was horrible.”

Next month, read how Marci and Jacob started a new chapter of their lives, one that gave them Clean Bodies and Clean Spirits.

Read part two of Jacob's story