YOU just never know when you are going to get that call. You are on edge all the time.
Those are the words of mum-of-four Hilary Mills who wants to tell the world about the grief that families feel when they are left behind when a loved one dies from drugs.
On May 18, 2018, Hilary got the call she had been dreading for the last decade since her son Ben started experimenting with drugs.
The 27-year-old was in the Intensive Care Unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest from taking heroin.
The 49-year-old from Cowplain said: ‘Seeing my son in a hospital bed wired up to life support was horrendous. I sat next to his bedside every day for the next three weeks wondering if I will ever hear his voice again or ever be able to hug him again.
before the doctor told me there was nothing more they could do.’
Ben’s sister Becky said her brother was more like her best friend.
The 26-year-old said: ‘We were so close but as the years went on we began to lose what made Ben, Ben.
‘He started smoking weed when he was about 13 or 14 and it just escalated from there to sniffing gas and doing cocaine. He spent some time in young offenders and then it was heroin.
‘When we were younger I said I wouldn’t tell mum and begged him to stop and then as we get older we all tried to help him.’
The family described feeling ‘angry and helpless’ watching their loved one destroy himself, his life and his relationships.
Hilary, a mental health worker, said: ‘You feel frustrated with them because you have a good week and it is like they are back to being themselves again and then they lapse and you are back to square one.
‘We all just wanted to help him and when he was himself he said he didn’t want to be who he was – but then the addict side of him would take over again.’
Ben spent time living on the streets and in hostels after leaving the family home.
Hilary said: ‘You just never know when you are going to get that call. You are on edge all the time.
‘It is very tiring living with a drug addict and it is like you have lost your loved one already but they are still here so you can’t grieve and it is like being in limbo.’
In the last two years of his life Ben took a downward spiral after his father died.
Mum-of-two Becky said: ‘I think the death of our dad hit him really badly. My dad had taken drugs in his time and they were a good support for each other.
‘Ben was the nicest person and would help anyone and it was hard seeing him turn into what he did.’
Younger brother Bradley, 18, added: ‘He was such a good brother and I remember him and my other brother Billy always playing as kids but then it changed and Ben hardly came out his room.’
Hilary added: ‘I think people sometimes forget the effect drug addiction can have on everyone around that person and including that person.
‘Behind every drug addict there is someone who doesn’t want to be like that but took a drug once with friends and it spiralled from there.
‘There is also the family and it is not just the mother but siblings as well who it affects. We are the ones who are left behind and I hope our story will make youngsters think twice about the impact of what they are doing could have on their families.’