My beautiful 28 year-old daughter, Alicia struggled her entire life. At a young age, she was diagnosed with significant comorbid learning disabilities and mental disorders; specifically Attention Deficit Disorder, Executive Function Deficit and Bipolar Disorder. As Alicia’s mother, I constantly fought the school system to get Alicia the support she so desperately needed, but to no avail. As a result, Alicia dropped out of high school in her junior year.
After multiple neurological tests, I was told that it is common for a child with these deficits to give up after continuously experiencing academic failure or dissatisfaction in their achievements; even after tirelessly trying and trying. This spoke true for my Alicia. She lost all self-esteem. It is also well known that children with these diagnoses are highly likely to start self-medicating as a result.
At 16 years old, Alicia started experimenting with drugs and was getting into trouble with the law. By 18, she transitioned to shooting heroin. One month after her 18th birthday, Alicia was sent to Massachusetts Committing Institution (MCI)-Framingham state prison. I thought that was the worst day of my life.
Alicia spent the majority of her adult life either in jail, detox, dual-diagnostic hospitals, and treatment programs. When she was 24 years-old, Alicia gave birth to my precious granddaughter, Alexa; Alexa is now five and has been in my custody since she was born.
I did everything in my power to help my daughter; I helped sign her up for therapy, had her brain mapped, and even went on to get Alicia free enrollment into a pilot mode intervention program in Palm Springs, California called Life’s Journey. This program covered every expense. They paid to fly my family of five out to LA, and waived the treatment facility’s one-month fee of $25,000. It was a miracle. I had so much hope for Alicia.
After completing the program, I remember Alicia saying, "Mom, I've never felt so good in my whole life.” She was given the option to take up residency in a sober living environment; however, Alicia’s boyfriend back home was more important to her. Therefore, she returned home and again began her codependent, toxic relationship.
Alicia’s boyfriend, along with others, enabled her addiction. It was a constant tug-of-war; I pulled Alicia in the right direction, as her boyfriend pulled her towards a life of drugs, crime, sleeping under bridges and jail.
At this time, Alicia got pregnant for the second time. However, her boyfriend left her for another girl.
I helped Alicia find a OB/GYN doctor that would prescribe her subutex. She moved into a shelter that August. Things were going well. I would pick Alicia up everyday, and give her whatever she needed. She saw her doctor every week. Over time, I did try to pull back so she could learn to do things on her own.
Alicia started seeing another guy, who she knew through her previous boyfriend. Alicia’s his new guy seemed to be very laid back, and Alicia appeared to be happy with him. I have twin boys who are now 25 years old. One son, Anthony, is also struggling with addiction and has been in a sober living facility in Florida for the past two-and-a-half years. Anthony wanted us to come visit, and meet the great people whom had been supporting him through his recovery. My husband, Alexa and I all flew to Fort Lauderdale on November 18, 2014. Alicia was eight and half months pregnant so we thought it would be best to visit Anthony before she gave birth to her new baby girl, Arianna Marie DeMarco.
On November 21, 2014, I received that dreadful phone call from the North Reading Police Department. My beautiful daughter Alicia and my precious granddaughter-to-be were both dead. Alicia’s doctor had taken her off of her subutex medication eight days prior to her overdose.
From the police report the circumstances around her death were very suspicious, however there was no incriminating evidence. Alicia was living in an apartment with her most recent boyfriend, who lived with his mother and a roommate. They waited 15-to-20 minutes before calling 911. Alicia’s death certificate indicated Fentanyl, not heroin, was the cause of her overdose.
My daughter was a very compassionate and loving person. She loved her family and especially her daughter, Alexa. My heart breaks for all the mothers, fathers, children and families are left enduring this horrendous loss of life.
Rest in peace, my beautiful daughter, Alicia and precious granddaughter, Arianna.
Since Alicia’s passing, her mother, Mary started Alicia’s Angel’s, a grief support group based out of Reading, MA; for parents who have lost loved ones to substance abuse and the disease of addiction. For more information, visit her support group’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Maryssupportgroup/