My nephew, Drew Mason Miller, died on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 after being on life support for 3 days.
During the few years leading up to Drew’s death, he struggled with the disease of addiction. In the end, the disease overcame him. He had four months of sobriety when he relapsed and died of an accidental heroin overdose at the young age of 27. Even so, Drew’s drug use did not (and should not) define him. Drew did not want to die; he had everything to live for and he was loved by many. He was a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, husband and most importantly, he was a father to his daughter Rory!
Here is his story:
Drew was born and raised in the small country town of Fayetteville, Ohio. He was a happy baby and boy. He had loving parents and a caring extended family. At the age of four he became a big brother to his sister Megan.
Living in the country, he developed a healthy love of the outdoors. From an early age, he went hunting and fishing with his dad (Roy) and continued with that passion throughout his life. Drew went to Fayetteville Perry School where his mother (Jackie) worked as a teacher. He was a good student and strong athlete. Throughout school he played soccer, baseball and of course basketball! Drew was popular and had many good friends that would stand by him even past high school. Drew was also popular with the girls and had “girl friends” even at a young age. He had a couple serious relationships and then after high school he fell in love with Ashley and they started a family.
Drew started drinking alcohol during high school and at some point began smoking pot. Although at the time it seemed typical for his age and a common thing among his friends, addiction was lurking. When he went off to college the fall after his senior year, his partying became more important than studying. He dropped out before finishing his freshman year – something he regretted later. Drew’s drug /alcohol use continued and as a result he got a couple traffic violations – which were proceeded by some outpatient counseling.
Rory (Drew’s daughter) was born on October 20, 2008 (a birthday shared with her Aunt Megan aka MeMe). Drew bought a house for his new family and he and Ashely were married the following September. Although Drew had been using opiates on and off for a couple years prior to getting married, his use seemed to escalate after he and Ashley were married. In some peoples’ minds, the dangers of prescription drugs were minimized, evidenced by the fact that one of Drew and Ashley’s “friends” gave them some “oxy’s” as a wedding gift.
Together, Drew and Ashley continued on a downhill spiral. While his mom begged him to enter an inpatient treatment program, he refused because he’d have to be away from Ashley and quite honestly he thought he could handle his addiction on his own. By this time, Rory was in the care of both Grandmas. Over the next couple of years, Drew was in and out of trouble with the law due to drug possession and eventually had to spend a couple days in jail (this was the fall of 2012). Drew was given the option of going to treatment or staying in jail. Drew chooses treatment and did well in the program. He was proud of his sobriety and was working hard to maintain it. He was on a maintenance dose of Suboxone, but was sharing it with Ashley as she didn’t have a prescription. Helping her, at the time, was his priority. As a result of sharing his Suboxone, he’d run out towards the end of the month. Typically, he’d be able to buy enough Suboxone off the street to make it to his next appointment and prescription. However, March was different: he wasn’t able to get Suboxone, but instead he got Subutex”…he didn’t use it though. He also got heroin – we’ll never know why. He used the heroin Friday and Saturday night unknown to anyone but Ashley. On Sunday night (March 17th) Drew used heroin for the last time. He was alone in the basement of his Mom’s house. His mom found him and called 911 and started recue breathing. The county sheriff arrived first on scene but didn’t have Naloxone (the antidote to an opiate / heroin overdose), the paramedics arrived several minutes later and had Naloxone, but by then it ws too late – the Naloxone was not effective. Drew was taken to the hospital and was on life support for the next few days; however, he had been without oxygen for too long and his brain had died. Drew was taken off life support on Wednesday, March 20, 2013. He was surrounded by his family and many friends. He is truly missed, but not disgraced.
My desire to minimize the number of people that have to feel the pain of losing a loved one to this preventable disease is what drives me to work with The Steve Rummler Hope Foundation. Education, treatment and breaking the stigma is key!