Their Stories

Brittni Peel

Brittni was the oldest of 3 children. She left behind a sister and brother. She was a young lady full of love and life and laughter. She never met a stranger and wasn’t afraid of anything. She began her issues after being bullied at school by female classmates at age of 14. She started with the drinking and by time got into high school, well is a perpetual drug store. Kids selling their aderal and Xanax. In which she grew to try and take anything, and yes Xanax was her favorite.

She finished high school, was holding a job and even had moved out into her own place. She wasn’t like what ppl call a junkie, she functioned but when she was done in the evening, yes she liked to wind down and taking something was her thing. Unfortunately a drug called methadone which was prescribed and had to be monitored, which is no longer monitored, they get it and leave the clinic with it and it comes in pill and liquid formula. As we know of reports mixing drugs such as anxiety meds and pain killers can literally kill you.

Well after work one night my girl took a Xanax and her friends introduced her to this methadone, and needless to say it literally put her to sleep. She wasn’t planning on dying, her diary was planning a wedding in a years time, she was happy and she loved everyone. I was always afraid this would happen. She told us that night “don’t forget to get me in the morning to go to work” we dropped her off and that was the last time I saw that sweet girl of mine.

God how I miss her every day, we all do. I tried treatments and centers but they are so expensive to go to. She left us on May 11, 2012, just two weeks after she turned 22. Forever loved and missed.

Matthew Peckham

I lost my beautiful and only son to heroin. He only struggled with this demon about 2 yrs. Sadly he had helped so many others with their addictions but could not help himself. Our lives are so much darker without his light.

Jason Hansen

Where do you begin to tell one’s story that was so full of life and vivacious since birth? Jason was so very talented in a lot of things. He spent his early years playing hockey on elite travel teams and was known to the hockey world as “Wild Thing”. No fear in his position as goalie. He won several awards in his position and loved all his team mates (especially the ones he would play locker room jokes on) and respected his coaches and the game itself. He was at one time sponsored by Rollerblade in extreme rollerblading and fit that in during the off season of hockey. He loved his family and friends, snowboarding, skateboarding and his dog, Harley Davidson.

We figured out that Jason was an addict when he was a senior in high school. He battled his addiction for several years. In and out of jail, rehab centers and meetings, he just could not walk away or control the urge for the drugs. Many, many times he would tell me that he hated being an addict. Between the felonies, jobs that weren’t available to him because of his record and just plainly feeling crappy when he wasn’t using, he lost hope in himself. As a mom, I watched and tried to do all I knew how to do to ease his life, his pain and keep him on the “right track”. I often times said that I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Each day you knew there would be a heartbreak of some sort to deal with. My favorite from people during this period of time was “why can’t he just quit”. The stress of just dealing with ignorant people on the subject of addiction was exhausting. No mother brings a child into this world and wishes for them to have this type of life. People don’t wish for their children to have diabetes, heart trouble or any sort of other illness, why would we wish for addiction. People need to be educated!!!

After high school Jason continued to spiral down in addiction. His criminal activity led him to spending some time in jail. Where he would spend his days reading and talking to God. These were times where he was depressed but yet had hope to get out and have a fruitful life. Never did he lose his sense of humor or his love for others. In fact, many times he talked to me about how grateful he was that I was there to help him. He told me many stories of people he had met that had no one. He always had a heart for the down and out type of person. It was not uncommon for him to give his sandwich away or even his shirt off his back to someone in need. He had a dream of a transitional housing facility of people coming out of the penal system. A place where they could get the support and life skills they needed to be successful out in the world.

As time when by, Jason lost his dad about a year before he passed. He was in jail at the time and it devistated him. I don’t think he ever knew how to deal with that loss. He got out of jail several months later and was employed and living with me. During the next few months, he started spiraling down again and panic set in with me. There were a lot of conversations about death; a lot of medical problems due to the addiction and then what I considered a “crazy period” just a few weeks before he died. His drug of choice was heroin. He was doing whatever he had to do in order to get either the heroin or the oxy’s. He told me many times that there was no way he could tell me what he did to obtain the drugs because it would break my heart. As if my heart wasn’t already shattered into tiny bits and pieces as I witnessed this hell for years. Anyway, the day before he died, he was very sick with withdrawals. You couldn’t even touch him to rub his back or touch his arm. That night, he came to me and told me that he was going to get a fix and that tomorrow he would find help. He had gotten news that his dad left him some money that was his if he would clean up and stay clean. He had a desire to open his own business and was very adamant that night that he would do this to honor his dad. The next day, before i went to work Jason was already planning out who to contact that day to get help. He called several places including his probation officer’s office. His PO was not in and the person covering told me that it was “tough” he’d have to wait until his PO got back at the end of the week to talk to him about getting into a bed. Jason had been promised by the PO that he would get him in right away. Evidently, this person didn’t see the need to facilitate the emergency of the situation. At that point, he started calling the hospitals and the suicide hotline anywhere he could find to see if someone, somewhere would help him get into a bed or the hospital to help him withdraw. Literally, no one would help. He reached dead ends everywhere either because he didn’t have the funds for private care or there was a waiting period of several days to weeks. Not conducive to someone who is in an emergency situation. There were many frantic text messages and phone calls back and forth between us that morning. At about 11:00 a.m. he called and started to ask me a questions but stopped. He told me he found what he was looking for. I asked him what it was and he stated an extension cord. Truthfully, I didn’t think much about it as I knew he was wanting to hook up a dvd player in his room and thought that was what he was doing. At that time, I told him that I was coming home at lunch time and we would get this worked out. About an hour later as I was leaving to catch the bus to go home he called again. He wasn’t upset like the call before. I told him I was on my way and would be home in about 20 minutes. He told me that he may not be there then and I figured that one of his friends was coming to get him or something. When I got home it was a cold, rainy, windy morning. Jason wasn’t at home so I just figured he was with his friends. I tried calling and it went to voicemail. During this time, I called the hospital and made arrangements to take him there and hopefully, they would admit him. After about 20 minutes I decided to go get him some cigarettes because I knew he was out. I told his dog, Harley, that we would go. For some reason, I decided to go to the garage to get a soda. Now, this may not sound odd to some but I rarely drink soda. Something was nudging me to the garage. Harley went out with me but absolutely would not go toward the garage. He started crying. I looked up and saw that Jason’s keys were in the door. As I pushed the door open I saw him hanging there. No mother should have to call 911, cut their son down and do CPR on them. No son or person should have to feel that hopeless because our system for help for addiction is so flawed. Jason’s presence is missed each and every day not just by me but by his brother, his aunts and uncles, his friends and all of us who knew him.

Thank you for letting me share. This was hard and I am now in tears. I miss him!

Salvatore Marchese

We lost Sal to an accidental overdose on September 23, 2010. Sal was not alone when he overdosed. Sal’s death could have been prevented if the person or persons that were using with him would have just called 911 for help – but they didn’t and my son was left alone to die, without the help he needed and deserved. No one should be afraid to save a life by calling 911, no matter what the circumstances are.

Sal, a Son, Brother and Father… Sal was born on April 11, 1984, two months premature. As my sister-in-law stated after his passing “he came into this world early and left early.” Sal was an absolute beautiful child with a heart of gold. Sal was truly an old soul.” If you met Sal once, you were his friend forever.
These next few words are borrowed from Sal’s brother Vincent. “There were so many layers to Sal. At his very core, he was fiercely loyal, loving, sensitive, and moral. To coax a real smile from Sal was the greatest victory, but how beautiful it was!! Sal touched so many people during his life. Anybody who had met Sal knew that you couldn’t do anything but love him”. Sal gave us one of the most precious gifts that anyone could give, his beautiful son. Baby Sal is a piece of his dad that will continue to shine his light and give his love to everyone around him, for the rest of his life.

Max Cota

Max was 6’2, 225lbs. Brown hair, blue eyes and a smile that would stop anyone in their tracks. Max was athletic. He started playing competitive baseball at just 10 years old, he was a high school football “stud” and strong as an ox. Max was an honor role student, extremely popular, charismatic, and if he loved you, you knew it.
He was all of those things.
And a drug addict.
Addiction is a progressive disease. His first rehab was when he was 16 years old…his second rehab at 18…his third at 19…
Somewhere Max was lost and drug Max took over.
At just 20 years old, and just 30 hours after he was released from a 90 day drug rehabilitation program Max was handed heroin by a “friend” and died.
Max was my only child. He died 9/7/11…and I miss him terribly. I have to assume that there is a reason I was left here and he was taken…maybe there is a reason we were all left here without our children. I search every day for reason in his death…
My son was much more than the disease he fought so hard to overcome..my son wanted to live.
The last day I shared with him was 8/8/11-his 20th birthday. After an amazing day together I had to leave him in Utah and head back to NV where I live. I began to cry…feeling guilty because this was the first year I hadn’t been able to bake him a cake and because I knew it would be several weeks before I was back in Utah for a visit.
He hugged me so tight and he said, “don’t cry mama, I will see you soon.”
I never saw my handsome, healthy, vibrant son again.
He died while I was making the 6 hour drive to Utah to bring him his things from home. He had just signed up for school and was living close to campus…preparing to snow board all winter, go to school and work on his sobriety with an outpatient program…
Handing a recovering drug addict drugs is criminal. It’s heinous…gross…and legal.
Through our pain I think it’s time to join together and focus the anger, the grief, the unexplainable empty ache and make sure our children didn’t die in vain.
No more parents should suffer.
Addiction is a disease. It’s not a choice.
My son did not choose to die. Faced with his drug of choice he simply couldn’t say no…
I miss him every second of every day. I don’t even know who I am without him.
I just keep waking up every day and trying to figure it out. Figure out what is left of my life without my son…figure out why I am here and that someone that shined as brightly as Max did is gone.
Somehow, someway, something has to be done…

Josh George

My son Joshua Aaron his drug problems started back in 2003 , we had put him in and out of rehabs , he was constantly getting pulled over from the police for having a pipe with pot residue , one arrest he had cocaine residue in a straw, so it was as if the police were always watching him. He learned well in the rehabs but never applied it, because he had a disease, he once told me that he had two voices one his regular voice and one his drug voice, and that drug voice screamed at him and his voice was a whisper.

He actually was doing pretty good and in October 2010 he married a young lady that had two daughters. He always hated taking pills but since he could no longer smoke marijuana because of his arrest he was regularly tested, so his wife talked him into trying pills and he got addicted to them.  He figured out what days he could do them and still pass his testing. Once he was out of control she left him, so he was in the middle of a divorce.

August of 2011 we had him cleaned up very good, than at the end of the month he started getting sick, he lost 30 lbs within 2 weeks, they finally put him in the hospital and discovered he had a hole in his stomach about 2 inches in diameter, we almost lost him then he was so sick.  He came home to live with his father and I first of October.  He so wanted to change his life from the fear of almost dying, he did very well .  His body was not back to normal yet he had gained his weight back but not the muscle.

One of his drug buddies the whole month of November continued to text him wanting for him to come party.  Josh ignored all of those text. On December 1st for some reason he went to this kids house.  The kid gave him a few Xanax, and the next day his phone is full of texts trying to find more pills.  He worked here where I do, and a lady from here sold him 60 pain pills and some Xanax.  

I had talked to him before I left work that day, he looked good had told me he moved all his things back to his place and even got his Christmas tree up.  That night after work, he went to his friends house they indulged in the pills and he never woke up.  The next morning they found him at 8 am but decided to get rid of all the pills before calling us at 9 am before they even called the police.

He was 13 days from a divorce.  We had never buried anyone, so we had no clue how it all worked, and the funeral home never even mentioned life insurance.  They only told us we had 30 days to pay for it.  So we refinanced our house in order to do so.  We had to have his now widow to sign a sheet simply stating we could plan the funeral, nothing about finances.   Afterwards we found out he had $82,000 in life insurance but had never changed it from his wife’s name.  Because we had already paid for the funeral, the insurance company gave his wife the money. She would not pay us back for the funeral , she basically took off with the money and will not speak to us, legally there is nothing we can do.

I want to let everyone know that it is a rule of thumb that the insurance company will first check with the IRS if they owe any money than check what payment there is on the funeral before letting the money loose.  So please if you are ever in a situation like this ask questions!!!!!

My son had a disease yes but he was the most kindest person you will ever meet.   The kind that would help the older ladies in their neighborhood with their groceries or anything they needed.  He had a smile that would light up the room, but he was sick with a disease and after spending $20,000 dollars on rehabs, we could no longer afford to do that, and any counseling you found at a low cost didn’t help, because the people in there were court ordered to be there.  So there is no help out there. I want to fight this war against drugs. Our country needs to fight against this war instead of fighting for other countries problems.  I hope my story can at least give some insight in some way that will help someone <3 I miss him everyday, every minute of the day <3

Douglas Madsen

Douglas is our first born and always SO full of life and adventure. He never knew a stranger and has the most tender heart. I think part of that tenderness is what made remaining in his earth suit so very difficult. I believe he came into our family to be our teacher of what loving compassion and forgiveness looks and feels like.

Douglas had a back injury in high school and was on pain medications that he later became addicted to. I know that each and every day he believed this would be the day he wouldn’t use and would find the freedom of that monkey off his back forever.

He left this earthy journey on July 13, 2008, and this time for our family has been an intense journey of finding our way again and learning how to integrate his life into our lives now. I believe this will always be a work in progress yet I can say with intention that healing is happening and I don’t feel the way that I did when I had to take the first step without my beloved son in it.

This world is a better place because Douglas lived and I feel a responsibility to continue to grow his love in whatever way that I can. Douglas is sorely missed each and every day and will be forever twenty-four. Deepest of sighs…

John M. Perkins Jr.

My beautiful boy, John, lost his life several years before he died. A very emotionally traumatic experience at the age of 18 set him on a course of hopelessness, including addiction. I tried everything to keep him alive, always afraid that even love was not strong enough to keep him safe. We lost him on 5-5-11. His paternal grandmother died the same day in the same hospital. It was 4 days from my 60th birthday and Mother’s Day. My world changed forever.

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Kirkpatrick

My husband & I had 2 sons, Jeremy & Chad. They were happy little boys who were always busy. They were very close, which always warmed my heart. As they got into their teens they experienced issues with depression, bipolar tendencies & addiction. I really believe their addictions problems came from trying to self-medicate. Even though both of them were in treatment & on medication for bipolar, they still really never felt stable. They would try to find things to help make them feel “normal”. Tragically we lost both of them in the Spring of 2008 to accidental prescription drug overdose. I have already told Chad’s story, now this is…..
Jeremy’s Story. He was the most playful little boy, always laughing. He began having problems with ADHD which affected his concentration level at school. This escalated into self esteem issues, which led him to searching for peers who would accept him & make him feel better about himself. So began a life of substance abuse. He tried to straighten up several times & go into therapy for his bipolar illness. They tried many different medications with him, which none was totally successful. So, like his brother Chad he began to self-medicate. He had stopped living a life of a nomad & was even going to college to make a better life for his 2 children. His 2nd marriage was failing which caused him stress & emotional pain. Then on April 5, 2008 his younger brother did not wake up from an accidental drug overdose. One day Jeremy called me all upset about something very hurtful his wife had done when she had dropped his baby boy to him. Jeremy was so upset we went & picked him & the baby up for a few hours. He talked about how the next day he wanted to go file for divorce. I told him I would go with him. We offered for him to spend the night with us, but he assured us he was ok & wanted to go to his apartment. The next morning I didn’t hear from him. I called & texted several times then just decided to go over there. I had this sick feeling all the way there. I had to get the maintenance man to unlock the door. When we went in my son was unconscious. I called 911 & did what they told me. Emergency squad took him to the hospital. When we got there the Dr. told us Jeremy did not survive. Autopsy showed accidental overdose of Methadone. He wasn’t even on Methadone, but we suppose he got it from someone to help him calm down & rest not knowing he would not wake up. So both of our son’s ashes were spread together in the Smokey Mts in Tenn. I do believe I will see my sons again in the resurrection, but the separation is still painful. I know my sons did not want to have addiction issues, therefore in the honor of them, I am posting their stories & photos on this Wall.

Daniel McGowan

Daniel was an amazing spirit he had so much love for others. He was fun to be around and always knew how to make you smile. He was my only son and he is truly missed. Daniel had struggled with ADHD and mild depression for several years it began in school due to his frustration with succeeding. He began self medicating or self numbing as I call it. Counseling and several drug rehabs later the level only increased as he aged. I remember one of the last conversations I had with him regarding a show I had watched about addicts and the number of them who had died all of the stories seemed so similar and so like him that I told him I feared the same fate for him as well. He agreed with me saying he thought that was how he would die as well thinking he was invincible only to find out to late he wasn’t. He wasn’t tying to be rude or hurt my feeling I think he just understood something I didn’t that the drugs owned his soul and he wasn’t going to fight it. This conversation was 2 days before I got the call he had died… He died in a filthy apartment the people who were with him called him a good kid who had the best night of his life. They left him to sleep after shooting up heroin and came back to find him barely breathing they decided to try and wake him by putting him in a cold shower. When this didn’t work they told their mom and she called 911 knowing he was ODing he died 2hrs later. He died 7 days before his 19th birthday 6days before Christmas and 8 days before his scheduled rehab.

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