MICHAEL’S STORY: The fight to stay sober and losing the battle to liver failure


ichael’s mom, Laurie, shares his story. “Things changed for Michael when he was a teen. He went from a happy, responsible child, to having trouble in school. He couldn’t finish his homework, acted out in class and was labeled a troublemaker. Kids bullied and hazed him. He was introduced to marijuana, quickly went to alcohol and dropped out of school.

We tried homeschooling and Job Corps. By 18, he was using opiates, alcohol and briefly heroin. He overdosed on heroin twice and nearly died from alcohol poisoning.

He went to AA, rehab and counseling, but often waited up to six weeks for treatment.

In his late 20s, he tried the Medical Center’s Intensive Outpatient Program, but was intimidated by the group and didn’t have transportation. He needed inpatient care but with no insurance was unaware of his options.

He tried hard to stay sober. He wanted to be a successful part of society. But he never felt like he fit in. Looking back, I know we missed the signs. We focused on the alcohol, but didn’t grasp the underlying issues (ADD, learning disability, low self-esteem and depression).

Days before he died, he had a painful knee injury. He took huge doses of cold medicine instead of pain pills, for fear he’d drink. It was too much and he died of liver failure. He was surrounded by family and friends who credited Michael with helping them turn their lives around.