By Shyhyene Brown

Growing up with my mom was truly a struggle. My mom was a true heroin junkie, doing anything and everything to get her fix. But one day, she got tired and decided to quit cold turkey. And for seven whole days, I detoxed my mom from heroin. She stayed clean and sober for 15 years until five years ago, when she relapsed and died from a heroin overdose.

One year and two months ago, I lost my baby brother Michael to a fentanyl overdose. He never did opioids so my best guess is that someone drugged him. And just last week, my best friend, her dad and I were at his spot chilling and kicking it and having fun, then we went our separate ways. Later on that evening, as I was walking with a friend back home, I noticed paramedics, firefighters and police officers surrounding a man’s body. As I approached to see who it was, a police officer had to restrain me. To my dismay, it was my best friend’s father lying dead on the ground. It took the first responders 25 minutes before they called the time of death.

Those were three personal circumstances of traumatic overdoses with me. So just imagine how another person feels to get that phone call late at night with someone telling them that a loved one died from an overdose. According to a San Francisco assessment on community health in 2016, substance abuse is a contributing factor to seven of the top 10 leading causes of death, and that includes poisonings.   

Opioid abuse tears families apart and takes the people we love and care about away from us. It leaves us to fill in the blanks on why they are gone, while leaving a hole in our hearts. It makes us feel empty and at a loss for words, leaving us with questions that might never be answered.

So what I’m saying is, whether people believe it or not, it’s a harsh wakeup call for anyone who has experienced such a loss. Deaths by overdose can be easily determined, but what leads to them are mysteries that might remain unsolved.