Seven years ago, I lost my wife to cancer. It was a long and brutal struggle, requiring mountains of opioids to help her cope with pain. My daughter, Katie, was 19 when her mother passed away. She was deeply troubled by her loss and, before I realized it, turned to her mother’s meds for an escape from her grief.

So began years of addiction and all the baggage that insidious disease carries with it. Katie began seeing a psychiatrist. But, the allure of the high was just too seductive. She had always been a good girl before the drugs, but, after her mother’s passing, she was arrested twice and was facing serious jail time when she died from an overdose in March of 2016. She was not quite 26.

No family in Loudoun should lose a child to drugs. Unfortunately, we lost 1,100 kids last year in Virginia.  We are on track to lose another 1,400 this year. Too many. Too soon.

The Next Chapter

Six days after my daughter died, I saw an article in the paper about a program out of the local sheriff’s office. He is trying to raise awareness about the local opioid crisis. He wants people to know that heroin is easy to find in our region and inexpensive to boot. To make matters worse, dealers are modifying their products to intensify the high—adding in chemicals that are, unfortunately, also lethal in small doses.

Last year alone, 44 children in Loudoun and Fauquier counties died from their addiction. This scourge is indiscriminate, taking people from all walks of life. It affects everyone. There are only three outcomes: you quit, you go to prison, or you die. But, people refuse to see the problem. We try to get our speakers in front of students, parents, and educators. But, too often the response is, “There isn’t a problem here.” As a society, we are in complete denial. The few of us who know the truth soldier on.

I just hope that, before I die, one person approaches me to say, “I heard you speak, and you helped me.” That would help me make sense of a senseless tragedy and to do my part to End the Need in Loudoun. Won’t you join us and help save a life?

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  1. Kathy and Katie were both special people. After watching Katie grow up with my daughter, it was so hard to realize what terrible times she went through before she passed away. Thank you for what you’re doing to combat this terrible problem.

  2. The numbers are staggering. I doubt there are many families in America whose lives haven’t been touched by someone with an opioid addiction yet too many think of it as a “clean” addiction, not knowing how fast it can spiral into tragedy. We need to hear the stories, and we need to look for alternatives to pain meds where appropriate. They’re just too easy to get. Thank you for sharing yours.
    I’ve been in the ER many times for kicks, bites, etc (I work with horses)where they were happy to write me a Rx. Opioids have never worked for me so I always ask for a short term scrip of a particular ansaid but if I’d wanted them, the doctors were ready to oblige. This needs to change, or at least be better monitored.

  3. I first met Katie in sixth grade. She truly taught me how to live and was there for me when no one else was. She had the biggest, kindest heart and would do anything for anyone. My heart broke at the news of her passing. I only wish I could have been there for her like she was there for me all those years ago. I still have a notebook she gifted to me for my birthday one year, and I read the note she wrote for me on the inside cover whenever I need a smile. She was truly one of a kind and so beautiful inside and out. The pain I feel from her passing is met by the amazing memories of her that I carry in my heart. Her smile, kindness, and compassion could light up any room she walked in. She is missed dearly. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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