Updated: Jul 10
By Courtney's dad, Doug
Manchester, New Hampshire
I'm writing this story 20 months after the loss of our little one. Courtney Griffin passed at the age of 20 in the prime of her life, unable to obtain the treatment she so desperately sought. Her life was one to be envied by most. She loved to travel and had been to Europe a couple of times and toured many countries. She had been to Hawaii twice and if you asked Courtney what she wanted to be when she grew up she would always reply "Hawaiian".
Courtney came into this world the same way she left it --- way too early. She was born on July 25th, 1994. Courtney spent the first couple weeks of her life in the intensive care unit of Mass General Hospital. Her lungs weren't fully developed and her mom sat by her side patiently waiting for Courtney to be strong enough to breathe on her own. Courtney didn't say much and was never a talkative kid. More of a listener than a talker. We moved as she entered third grade and that was rough on her because she was shy and being the new kid in town didn't go well for her. She didn't have many friends until she reached middle school and then she started to come out of her shell and make friends. She joined the band and played in it until she graduated high school. Courtney played the clarinet until the band director asked one day if anyone would try playing the French Horn. Courtney jumped right in and started tackling the instrument. She even played it in the marching band in high school which was no easy task!
At some point in high school, we aren't really sure when, she met some kids and smoked pot with them. This is when she developed a second set of friends that she always kept separate from her regular friends. Next she was offered Percocet 30 pills and that was the beginning of the opioid invasion. Soon one pill wasn't enough and things started to go missing around the house. Her whole attitude began to change and frequently life was difficult for all of us at home. She was introduced to heroin when the pills became too expensive and thus began our fight to keep her alive. Courtney was a smart kid and realized she was in over her head and came to us for help.
We tried for months to get her into a treatment facility but were constantly denied coverage by our insurance company. We were told that because "it is not a matter of life or death" there would be no coverage for treatment. We went from hospital emergency rooms to clinics and the response was the same everywhere we went. Courtney overdosed twice, but Narcan saved her and gave us additional, precious time with our little one.
There are many chapters to this story but they all lead to a tragic end for Courtney. Fentanyl was the drug that finally took her life. On the advice of our local authorities, we asked her to leave our home and canceled her insurance. By doing this, she would be homeless and then could be eligible to receive treatment in Massachusetts, New Hampshire's neighbor to the South.
Courtney died alone, away from our home and the day before she was scheduled to enter a treatment facility.
Courtney was a shining star. The room lit up when she walked in and everyone loved her. She could always make people laugh and smile and was always there to help those in need. After her passing we received countless messages from kids she had helped along the way. She was the one to greet the kids new to school and those advancing from middle school to high school. She had attempted to join the Marines to escape her addiction and after a month of boot camp at Parris Island she was asked to leave for failing her entrance urine test. The girls in her company in boot camp wrote on her Facebook page how helpful she had been to them as they struggled to be away from home for the first time.
We ask that Courtney be remembered not for the short time of her substance misuse, but for the great person she was and her love of life. It is our hope that she has achieved her goal in life and is now Hawaiian.