SAMA Stories

Tell Us Your SAMA Story

Personal stories are among the most powerful tools we have to effect change. Lifting the stigma of addiction and delivering necessary services to young people with addictions and their families happens through a better understanding of who is affected by the disease.  SAMA Family Stories are told by people who have experienced addiction. They are stories of recovery, loss, despair, hope and change.

These personal stories are the real voice behind SAMA’s mission and are the foundation of our work.

Your experience matters. Your stories are the basis upon which better addiction treatment and policies are built.  By sharing real-life stories—your stories—with the press, policymakers and the general public, SAMA is raising awareness about addiction and improving the lives of young people with addiction and their families.

We respect the confidentiality of everyone who submits a story, and will always ask permission before sharing it in any format. Please share your SAMA Story with us.

SAMA Family Stories

The disease of addiction takes a toll on the entire family. For those who lose a loved one to the disease, the grief and pain is immeasurable. Annalee Peck lost her big brother Jonathon (Jono) to suicide in the spring of 2007, after he spent several years struggling with substance addiction. Jono was 19 years old. Annalee once said of her brother, “We were so much a like we could have been twins…except for just one thing: addiction”. Annalee wrote this poem shortly after Jono died.
-Annalee Peck

I am still not sure when my son first experimented and/or consumed alcohol or drugs, but the switch from “partying” to becoming an alcoholic began during his Junior year in high school while he was an exchange student in France. At one time I wanted to blame French culture, his friends, him, or us as parents, as the root cause of his problem. What I now understand is, this is a no fault disease. No person, place or thing caused it and science shows it is largely genetic. From the first time he tasted alcohol it was a different experience for him; he liked it with intensity and he wanted more. Our son was a good student, an Eagle Scout and addicted to alcohol and eventually other substances. Read more

My story is about my son, Phillip, who died of an overdose of methadone on Dec 12, 2004. Phil was a twin & one of eight children. Before Phil died he was in Monroe prison for a year & in work release in Seattle for six months. During that 1 1/2 years, Phil was a completely different person from how he was on drugs & alchohol. I am his mother and we shared more fun, laughs & closeness than we had since he was a small child. Read more

A single day used to be so difficult, largely because of the obstructions created by my addiction, but also because I didn’t possess the tools I needed in order to confront life on life’s terms—to see past a given challenge to a future where things would be simpler and sweeter than they once were. The foundation of sobriety has provided the tools I’ve needed to get the most from life—to live in recovery with optimism about the potential I can realize, and with immeasurable gratitude for the grace I’ve been shown by those who became willing to stick with me, even through the hard times. Read more
– Ben Spencer

Our son Sean was 17 years old when he died of acute opiate intoxication on July 17 last year.  It was five weeks after his graduation from Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, WA.  He was six weeks shy of his 18th birthday.  Sean had been in drug treatment since November of 2007.   Opiates were not Sean’s “drug of choice”.   However, we think he would have taken anything to satisfy the terrible cravings he suffered.  Although the police believe that he died of a heroin overdose, we think that his introduction to opiate abuse was OxyContin several months earlier.  Read more
-John and MJ Gahagan

When I think of our daughter Lynn a familiar nursery rhyme comes to mind:  There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.  When she was good, she was very, very good.  But when she was bad, she was horrid.  This rhyme describes Lynn Marie Sundborg, our adopted and now deceased daughter.   She was a wonderful and very bright person when she was sober.  But when she was intoxicated she was horrid.  Lynn died August 2007 at the age of 36.  She was a late stage alcoholic and she overdosed on heroin. Read more
– Jean Sundborg

SAMA Foundation