My husband died over an overdose. Was there foul play?

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on July 28th, 2009 - Last updated: April 13th, 2023
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Dear Stanton:

I lost my husband six months ago to a heroin overdose.

We do not know to this day exactly what happened and have been unsuccessful in getting the local law enforcement officials to do any investigating of the circumstances. In short, they are taking the words of two addicts who were present that “he provided the drugs it was his idea.”

These notable people were wanted on warrants at the time and fled the scene of his death to call 911 from elsewhere. Did my husband take drugs? I don’t know. I do know the insurance companies aren’t paying saying the coroner and sheriff report said he must have (if those two losers said he did).

Is this commonplace? I lived with my husband for the past six years and knew him to be recovered. Short of wanting to kill the two losers that were in attendance at his death, what do people do, hire private investigators? I tried that one only to find a guy who was retired off the same sheriff force – a ‘good ol’ boy and friend of the sheriff (no to mention sexist pig).

Well, let me express my limitations in deciding whether your husband did indeed take drugs again, not having known him.

Having excused myself thusly, perhaps I can contribute some thoughts:

  1. Police are not the best problem-solvers, and if your spouse died under any but obvious circumstances, you are justified in hiring a private investigator and/or attorney if you are suspicious of the capabilities of the police and if you want to know the truth. Interview attorneys and/or investigators until you find one you have confidence in.
  2. I believe you that the men with the drugs are sleazy. What was your husband doing with them? How long had he known these men?
  3. What do you suspect happened? Do you think your husband was taking drugs? Do you think these men did something to him? Or do you think that he was taking drugs voluntarily and that he just suffered an unintended negative outcome (in other words, their story is true)? Do you want them punished for their role if this is the case? I am ambivalent about that, because people often blame the carrier for bad drug use. I tend to believe that the legal system works better if we hold people responsible for their own behavior.
  4. One scenario I can imagine is (a) your husband was taking drugs with these men, (b) there was still foul play. In other words, it’s hard to die of an overdose (see Hype Overdose”). But what would be the motive?
  5. On the other hand, it’s the easiest thing in the world for the cops to see a needle and wash their hands of the case, as though every drug user is ready to die at the drop of a syringe. Your suspicions that the cops won’t look below the surface are well justified.

Best, Stanton

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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