He grew up in the same small, coastal Florida town that I grew up in. He enjoyed biking, skateboarding, video games and music. He always wanted to be outside being active and enjoying time with friends and his brother.
Things started to change when he and his twin brother entered public high school. He had attended a very small private school up until this time and was entering a much larger school with a completely new peer group. He started to make new friends who shared similar interests, but lived a much different lifestyle. It wasn't long before his attitude started to change dramatically, as well as his grades. He started smoking cigarettes and alcohol soon followed. By 10th grade he was experimenting with marijuana and by that summer, he was experimenting with prescription pills.
I quickly sought out an adolescent therapist as well as a psychiatrist to try and get a grip on his emotional and drug problems. Things got better for awhile. Then, in the beginning of 11th grade, he started to smoke marijuana daily; before, during and after school. By the first of the year, he dropped out because his grades were failing. He tried taking GED classes but he was so stoned all of the time, it was useless. With more time on his hands, his partying and drug use were completely taking over his life. He wouldn't come home on the weekends except to shower and change clothes and then he was back out the door. There was just no stopping him. His therapist tried everything but as soon as Derek got back around his friends, his bad habits would prevail.
In June he was out late one night, extremely intoxicated, got into an altercation with another teen and was stabbed multiple times. He spent a month in the hospital recovering from his near fatal injuries. I had him committed to a drug rehab program, but he only lasted 30 days before he managed to get kicked out. I then started taking him to an outpatient program and NA meetings, but he only stayed clean for a few weeks.
This past October, 2 weeks before his 18th birthday, I walked into his room to wake him up for class, and found him cold and dead in his bed. Toxicology reports determined that he took Oxycontin and Xanex and his heart stopped in his sleep.
Since his death, my life has completely changed. I miss his big hugs, his beautiful smile and his personality. He was my life and drugs took him away from me. It is so frustrating to watch your child slowly killing themselves and desperately trying to help them only to realize that they have to help themselves.
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