Alexander Robert Nickol

Alexander Robert Nickol

Kind, gentle, intelligent, daring, wicked sense of humor

When Alex was little, he was open, free, chatty, and precocious. He was a character; very happy, intensely creative, and inquisitive from day one and loved to learn about the world. Alex constantly asked questions until he was satisfied with the answers. The family laughingly said: “he was a force to be reckoned with and marched to his own music.” In addition to those traits, Alex was compassionate, kind, and had a quick sense of humor.

Alex loved nature and enjoyed gardening, hiking, fishing, and camping. He adored his dogs, Daisy Mae, and Jack, who now miss his warm hugs and late-night ice cream treats.

Alex was home-schooled much of his life, eventually going to a small Junior High School. His mother, Becky, said, “At 13, he went to bed a boy and woke up another person. That happy, chatty kid became isolated and because of drugs lost his friends one by one.” Alex went to treatment many times, but his addiction persisted. Drugs took the place of the customary rites of passage, like football games or prom. The world closed in on Alex. During his slow decline, Alex had intense nightmares, sleeplessness and joined in few family celebrations. He was withdrawn, nervous, anxious, and depressed and went through years of the “dark night of the soul.” Alex seemed to be unable to help himself and was convinced he had wrecked his life. He felt hopeless and prayed with his mother, asking for God’s help; it was a torturous existence.

“It is hard to have a family member with substance use disorder; you don’t get the same support as you would with other illnesses,” his mother said. People are afraid of the topic and his mom was fearful of the stigma that might brand Alex. “The stigma and shame make you very isolated and alone,” she said.

In his last years alive, Alex became more loving and expressive, telling his parents, “Don’t feel bad. You had nothing to do with it, it was me. You have been great parents.” Becky said that Alex learned a lot of deep spiritual lessons many of us never face and did it with grace. “It was his time,” she said, “he is now in a more peaceful place.”

Alex’s mother, Becky Nickol, provided the information for this narrative.

March 5, 1982-January 7, 2017

Age 34–Lived with the disease of addiction for years 20 years.

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