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Garret’s Story

My son, Garret James Bethke was born on July 13, 1986. Garret’s disease took his life on October 28, 2014. My beautiful child died of a heroin/meth overdose.  My life changed forever.

When you have a child in active addiction, we all know that the knock on the door or the phone call in the middle of the night may come. But, we pray it won’t be our child. We delude ourselves or just hope against hope that it won’t really happen. Well, that’s exactly how it happened to us.

Garret had been in treatment from August 11, 2014 until October 22, 2014. He overdosed and died six days after being released from a halfway house. Six days!!

My beautiful son was an amazing artist, talented musician and very bright.   A talented landscaper and carpenter. Inventive.  Why did this happen to my son? There are no answers. We can second guess our decisions as parents all day long. My son struggled with opiate addiction for 10 years. He hated his disease. He called it “the demon”. It was. It took everything from him.  His zest for life, his self confidence, some of his family and friends. Everything. Garret tried so hard to manage his demons. I tried to help him, but I couldn’t. We will try everything and anything in ‘our power’ to help our suffering child. But, we can’t. I would have given my life to not see my son suffer from this disease.

Garret left behind me, his heartbroken Mom, his father, his brother, step parents, step siblings, nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts, uncles and so many friends. Garrets’ friends are still in contact with me. Some are in recovery and some are still struggling. I am blessed for each and every one of these people. I only wish that my child truly knew how much and how many people loved him.

Garret could walk into a room and light it up with his infectious smile. He was the most non judgmental person I have ever met in my life. He taught me so much about people. Especially addicts.  He’d say “Mom, they are addicts just like me”. Powerful statement.  Garret was the kindest, most giving, true hearted person I will ever know.

We will never know what happened in those last few hours or days before his death. I just want to know why?  I will never get that answer. All I know is this, my son died of a disease that is taking our young adults at a rate that is NOT acceptable. We need to change so much stigma and shame surrounding this disease and the disease of mental illness. Thanks to Steve Rummler Hope Foundation (SRHF), we are making some progress.

We started a foundation to honor my son and all others struggling with the disease of addiction. The Garret’s foundation is in the infant stages and we hope to get more involved with SRHF and others to get the word out. Our hope is to stop the silence and shame. We all need to work together to change how our communities treat our suffering addicts. Treat one another with respect and kindness, just like my Garret did.

God help us all.

Deb Noethe (Garret’s Mom)



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