Updated: May 6
By Ryan's mom, Tina
Linwood, New Jersey
I lost my youngest child in October of 2012 to a heroin overdose.
In September, Ryan was at his lowest; he was homeless and couldn't get a job so he just walked around all day. He asked me for help and, like so many times before, I called every place that I could think of but there were no beds available. I took him to the emergency room and the doctor wasn't very helpful. He said that if Ryan wanted to get sober, he would have to do it on his own. The doctor gave us some medication to help with the withdrawals and Ryan and I sat in a hotel room together for almost a week while he detoxed. The doctor said to watch him. Many times over the course of that week I stood over Ryan while he slept, just to make sure he was still breathing. Days later I was finally able to get a bed for him and we drove to the rehab.
Ten days into detox he called and begged me to come get him. I told him that he needed to stay and get better. The director of the rehab called me a few hours later to say that Ryan had called one of his friends instead. The man was on his way to pick Ryan up.
What kind of friend, much less an adult, thinks it is OK to leave a detox and rehab facility before it’s time?
Within a month my son died alone in that “friend’s” guest room. Ryan had just turned 21.
Ryan was adored by everyone that knew him. He was funny, handsome, smart, compassionate, and athletic. Ryan was a son, brother, best friend, nephew, and grandson. He loved his family very much and was always asking after everyone, he even called from jail and while he was living on the streets.
Ryan dropped out of high school during his junior year in highschool and never got the chance to walk at graduation or get his diploma.
He didn't go to prom.
Ryan never got a driver’s license.
He will never watch either of his sisters get married.
Ryan will never do any of the things that I, as his mother, always dreamt he would. His death was a crushing blow to our whole family. I have a daughter who's never had a problem with substance abuse and another son who is in a sober living facility in Florida, he has taken this very hard. They were 16 months apart and best friends.
The picture above is one of my favorites. It was taken six days before he passed. He looks happy to me. None of us had ever seen this picture until Ryan’s funeral. My daughter says it wasn't on her phone before that. I'd like to think it was a gift from Ryan.
I am passionate about giving our young people hope and showing them that recovery does exist. I have opened a new chapter of Young People in Recovery (YPR) in our community. YPR is a nonprofit that empowers young people in or seeking recovery to take charge of their futures by helping them find safe and affordable housing, continuing their education and gaining employment. We also advocate for more available treatment, insurance coverage and ending the stigma against people with Substance Use Disorders.
To learn about Young People in Recovery, visit their website: http://youngpeopleinrecovery.org/