03 May 2016

Families Tell of Heartbreak at Losing Sons to Drug Addiction

Families dealing with a loved one’s addiction to substances such as alcohol or drugs will be desperate to encourage this person to seek help. Unfortunately, it is impossible to force an addict to ask for help unless he or she wants to make a change. With so many treatments available, including cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, and the 12 steps, it would be easy to assume that all an addict has to do is reach out for help and they will recover. Sadly, this is not always the case.

Even the most experienced counsellors and therapists cannot help an addict to recover if he or she does not want to. The thing about rehabilitation and recovery is that the addicted individual must be willing to make the necessary changes in order to overcome this devastating illness; unfortunately, many are unwilling, or unable, to commit to the programme.

Fatal Drug Addictions

Two families with experience of fatal drug addiction have come together and detailed their stories in a memoir entitled Tenacity. This compelling book tells the stories of Stephen Cowell and Scott Rose, who were childhood friends both taken too soon by a devastating heroin addiction.

Scott’s mother Julie collaborated with Stephen’s sisters Sarah and Michelle, who told Stephen’s story from the perspective of their late mother, Marilyn. Julie said, “Tenacity is an expression of everything we felt as mothers, every high, every low, every panic that we would outlive our sons.”

Sarah added, “They never gave up, even if their sons were still alive today they would still be trying to help them. That’s why the book was always going to be called Tenacity.”

Bright Futures

Both Scott and Stephen have been described as having had bright futures before succumbing to the Class A illegal drug that is heroin. Julie said that Scott was training to be a carpenter before he began dabbling with the drug while Stephen’s sisters said that their brother was passionate about coach driving before drugs took hold. Michelle said, “They were friends and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Both of them were easily led people and there is that element of pressure.”

The boys started smoking the drug but, before long, they were injecting, with Scott borrowing money from whoever would lend it to him and Stephen driving a coach while under the influence. Michelle spoke of how kind and gentle her brother had been before admitting that ‘drugs change who you are’. She said, “It all becomes about getting the next fix. In the beginning, we had no idea what to do. We didn’t even know anything about heroin. Why would we.”

Addictive Personality

Certain factors raise a person’s risk for addiction, including genetics, environment, and unresolved trauma. Many believe that some people are predisposed to developing an addiction because they have ‘addictive personalities’; Michelle believes Stephen had just that. She said, “Stephen had an addictive personality, gambling, he knew how to play the machines so he would win big. That became his living.”

Mother’s Nightmare

Julie spoke of the first time she realised her son was abusing heroin when she walked in on him using it. She said that she was in a state of shock and ran over to him before ripping the needle out of his hands. She said her son was trying to get the needle from her and was shouting, although she knew he would not hurt her. She added, “I was confronted by the scale of his addiction, and it terrified me.”

Scott and Stephen were encouraged to get help from their families and were enrolled in an intensive rehab programme that included therapy inspired by the 12 steps and Scientology principles. Julie said, “It would work, for a time, I felt like I had my son back, and I know from speaking with Marilyn that she also hoped that things would work out. It helped to wish for something better.”


Although both Scott and Stephen were getting help for their crippling heroin addictions, they relapsed, and both died because of it, leaving their families heartbroken. The three women admit their worlds were blown apart as a result.

Sadly, Marilyn died in 2011, but Julie, Michelle, and Sarah worked together on Tenacity and said that doing so helped them to heal. They are hoping that the book will help to prevent others from developing devastating drug addictions. They want it to be used in schools and rehabilitation clinics as a drug education tool. Michelle said, “The message is that drugs can hit anyone, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, anyone can develop an addiction and lose everything,”

Addiction Treatment

The 12 steps were developed by Alcoholics Anonymous founders Dr Bob and Bill W. The steps are broken up into decision steps, action steps, and maintenance steps, and they have been helping millions of people all over the world to recover from a host of addictions such as alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.

Elements of the 12 steps are used in rehabilitation clinics throughout the UK and the rest of the world because of its effectiveness. Unfortunately, rehab did not work for Scott and Stephen, and relapse from addiction is, sadly, an all too often occurrence. Thankfully, rehabilitation with 12 step principles does work for many addicts. Here at UKAT, we have experience of helping those with even the most severe addictions to recover. Contact us today for information on how we can help you or a loved one.


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* Click here to learn more or contact UKAT directly for rehab availability.

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