We live in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. The youngest of our three children, Roland, died aged 23, in 2003. My middle son and stepson to Jeremy, Jacob (Jake), died aged 37, in 2014. Both from drug overdoses. Having ‘Just say no’ conversations about drugs when they were young teenagers hadn’t worked. These intelligent boys wrecked their school careers and continued on downward paths, eventually becoming heroin addicts. The idea of what the drugs laws might do to them didn’t stop them.

Rose and Jeremy’s story is continued below…

Only someone who has lived with addicts can understand how hard it was for 15 years, with anxiety our constant companion, the roller-coasters of hope and disappointment, and the shame that made us keep it all to ourselves. But we loved our sons. Despite the addiction, we would see glimpses of Roland’s gentleness, and Jake’s vulnerability, and the ridiculous sense of humour they shared. We hoped that someday they would be in control of their drug use.

Roland had occasional unskilled jobs. He stayed a lot at his girlfriend’s flat but was often home too, and he would sometimes confide in us about the drugs. He stopped using heroin and stayed off it for a few months when he was 22. Sadly he turned to heroin again for comfort after an upset with his girlfriend. The next year, while he was on the waiting list for a methadone programme, Roland was found dead at a friend’s house.

Jake, in spite of having been expelled from school, had gone to university in his early twenties. But he hadn’t managed to get off drugs completely, and he worked in short-lived unskilled jobs. Then he chose to make his third attempt at rehab; this time it worked and the charismatic person that he really was appeared. He remained heroin free for almost seven years, doing positive things, moving to London, studying to become an art psychotherapist, and finding a loving relationship with his partner and little son. Then came a couple of relapses. I think Jake wanted to show the world that he could succeed at everything. He would never have admitted it but the pressure he put on himself was too much, a scenario where heroin finds its way in. Jake was found dead at his home in London. The war on drugs failed our boys.