June 27, 2014

Plattsburgh couple finds sobriety

PLATTSBURGH — Like many others who have struggled with addiction, Larry and Melinda Senecal’s drug problems started small.

“We were just smoking pot, and then it led on, just building up,” Mr. Senecal, 49, said. “When we wouldn’t have it (the drugs), we would fight and argue a lot.

“It’s like we had to have it.”

While the Senecals said they never did heroin, they feel they would have, in time — if an arrest hadn’t led to treatment instead of deeper addiction.


While the Plattsburgh couple had used alcohol and marijuana excessively before having kids, their substance-abuse problem got worse after the sudden death of their middle child, Danny, who was 22 months old.

“We just woke up one morning, and he was all purple,” Mr. Senecal said. “We tried to save him, tried to give him CPR. He went so long without oxygen that he was brain dead.”

A life-support machine at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington was the only thing keeping him alive.

“Once they took him off the machine, he died in my wife’s arms,” Mr. Senecal said.

Doctors told the Senecals that Danny’s death was a result of complications from acid-reflux disease, Mrs. Senecal said.


After that, marijuana and alcohol weren’t enough to numb the pain, she said.

The next step was abusing the Xanax and Klonopin pills prescribed to Mr. Senecal for anxiety.

“When that wasn’t good enough, instead of eating them, we would snort them,” Mrs. Senecal, 32, said.

When the prescriptions ran out, Mr. Senecal said, “I’d go on the streets and buy them.”

They were spending at least $100 a week on pills and pot, Mrs. Senecal said, and they sold many of their belongings to get the money to support their habit of at least 15 pills a day.

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