On November 5, 2010, my husband and I lost our beloved son, Ryan, to a heroin overdose. Our daughter lost her only brother. Ryan’s addiction lasted for a bit over two years. Our lives will never be the same.
On December 26, 2008, Ryan told us about his addiction and asked for our help. We were in shock. Our Ryan, addicted to heroin? We immediately began a journey through hell that included counselors, suboxone programs, rehabs, meetings, halfway homes, and tough love. Little did we know that Ryan’s fight to recover would end with death. We never gave up hope and supported his sobriety 100 percent. Losing him will always be the saddest day of our lives.
Ryan fought so hard. However, the disease of addiction was much bigger. He talked openly about his thoughts and feelings. Of course he regretted his decision to experiment with opiates. I truly believe he had no idea it would ruin his life. In 2010, there was very little conversation about opioid addiction. Even though he was unable to help himself, Ryan helped others by sharing his experiences in hopes that they wouldn’t go down the same path.
If Ryan could speak out today, he would tell you, don’t experiment with heroin or pills. Drugs will destroy your life. Addiction will tear your family and friends apart. Those who recover fight for a lifetime to remain sober.
Ryan had dreams of a bright future. He wanted to go to college and get a job. He wanted a family some day. Ryan was a kind, caring, smart young man from a huge loving family. We miss him every day. To honor Ryan’s memory, we talk openly about his addiction. Ryan loved helping others. His story continues to help others.
If I could tell you a few things I learned they would be:
- Addiction doesn’t discriminate.
- Have compassion for those who suffer with the disease. No one wants to grow up and become addicted.
- Seek help if you are suffering. There are lots of people who care and want to help.
- If you know very little about addiction, educate yourself. Help stop the stigma attached to the disease.
- If your loved one is addicted to opiates, find out more about Narcan because it might save their life.
- If you’re with someone who overdoses call 911. Please don’t leave them alone.
If you’ve have lost someone to this disease, I’m so sorry for your great loss. Maybe you can become part of a team to educate others and help fight to improve the programs that are needed to recover. Our children didn’t die in vain if we keep fighting addiction and pushing for change.