Lauren Sisler: Addiction and overdose are dirty words. That only makes them more dangerous.
The call that changed my life came, like so many do, in the darkest hours of the early morning. Mine was at 3 a.m., in my dorm room, during the spring semester of my freshman year of college. "Your mom died," my dad said, panic in his voice. "Get on a plane home, and I'll meet you at the airport."
I had just talked to my mom hours earlier. What had happened?
I did as I was told and boarded a plane, numb and confused. But my dad wasn't waiting for me at the airport when I landed. Instead it was my Uncle Mike, waiting with the kind of news that leaves you gasping for air.
"Your dad is gone, too," he said solemnly.
I found out later that my parents had been harboring a dark secret that ultimately killed them, a secret that I've taken on the burden of owning now that they're gone: They were addicted to opioids.
"Overdose" is a dirty word. For years, I lied about how my parents passed away. The falsehoods were made easier by the concealing they had done themselves about their condition. Eventually I realized that had they told me their painful truth, I could have helped them battle their addiction, and that I needed to share my story in hopes that it could save others.