Updated: Mar 17
By Justin's aunt, Melissa
Justin Michael Wright
My nephew, Justin, was born February 5, 1990. He died September 11, 2016 from a fentanyl/heroin overdose at the age of 26. Justin was a fun, shy, loving, smart, and sensitive young man. He never put anyone down nor would he talk badly about people.
I didn’t realize how many people crossed paths with Justin until I saw the lines of people at his viewing - old classmates, hockey coaches, and school teachers to name a few. Justin had many friends who say he was always there for them and always made them laugh.
At a young age, Justin began playing deck hockey and baseball. He would always play with a mini hockey stick and ball in the living room while watching TV. He loved to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins play, whether it was by going to the games or watching on TV. Justin went on to play ice hockey in his high school years.
Justin also loved to listen to music - he had an ear bud hanging out of his ear every time I saw him. Justin liked working on cars and had hopes of going to college to earn a degree in accounting, but his addiction got in the way.
Justin’s struggles began at the age of 15 with marijuana, and eventually led to prescription pain medications. He said he liked how drugs made him feel. My family and I didn’t find out about his addiction until Justin was 20, when he checked himself into his first treatment center.
Justin started using heroin four years ago, at age 22. He was very depressed and hated life because of his struggles with depression and addiction. At different points, Justin tried methadone and vivitrol shots but they were unsuccessful, as treatment interfered with his drug use.
After many stints in treatment centers and transitional housing, Justin was doing well in 2015. He was living at a recovery home in Florida and they told me that Justin would try to tell other kids not to waste any more time with drugs because he himself had already wasted so much time. Justin met a girl with a substance use disorder while in Florida and, she got pregnant. My sister, Justin's mom, is now raising Justin’s son with the help of our family. That little boy gets us through each day.
Fast forward one year to September 2016. After forty-five days in recovery, Justin left a recovery house and was dead 8 hours later. I know Justin didn’t want to die; he was just looking to escape his problems for a little while. My comfort is that I know Justin no longer has to use drugs to numb his pain. He is a free spirit.
Justin's mom said, "Justin wanted to recover so badly. He fought a good fight, but in the end, he was tired. I do miss Justin so much, but I am comforted by the fact that he is not tortured by the bad things in this world anymore. Earth was not fair to him in his last 8 years."
One message I would like to pass on to those fighting and struggling with addiction is don’t be too proud to ask for help.
Thank you for reading Justin’s story. I hope that his story helps at least one person.
Until we meet again JW.