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Unanswered questions

It’s normal to have a lot of questions when someone close to you dies from drugs or alcohol. This section will attempt to answer some of the questions you might have.

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions are common when someone dies from drugs or alcohol. If you did not know about their use beforehand then you will also have many questions about how and why they were using drugs and alcohol. They may have been living with addiction and keeping it from you, or they may have only just started experimenting. Sometimes it may have been the first time they used drugs or alcohol to dangerous levels.

I didn’t know my loved one was using drugs or alcohol 

Sometimes friends or relatives do not know before a death that their loved one was using drugs, or using alcohol to a dangerous level. If this happens the shock and trauma of an unexpected death is combined with the shock of finding out about an addiction or unknown drug or alcohol use. You will be faced with many questions. Feelings of guilt and regret are very common. Double trauma A sudden death is always traumatic.

After his death I was just in total shock

My dad’s alcohol use got worse through my teens as he moved in with his partner, who herself was/became an alcoholic, and my relationship with him suffered badly. It’s hard to connect meaningfully with someone who is drunk whenever you interact, and he was drunk almost every time we stayed with him while we were in secondary school. On the odd occasion he was sober, I got along with him very well. We had similar senses of humour and enjoyed spending time together. 

More devastating than I could ever have imagined

Our son, Matthew, died in April 2001 from a heroin overdose. He was thirty years old.  He was the middle one of three boys and he had begun experimenting with drugs and alcohol probably in his early teens. His behaviour changed drastically then, but it can be hard to know the difference between "normal" teenage behaviour and drug use. And he was the last child one would imagine to try drugs – he loved sport, had lots of friends, detested people smoking and knew about the dangers.