JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Centers For Disease Control estimates more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, in numbers the agency released Wednesday. It sets another tragic record in the nation’s escalating epidemic.
Of those deaths, the drug fentanyl accounted for the greatest number.
Carroll Miniard knows what it’s like to lose a loved one to a drug overdose. Her son, Evan, was 35 years old when he died. She hopes his story will lead to more people taking the threat of the drug seriously.
“I don’t want one more family to go through what we’ve gone through,” Miniard said.
She remembered the night she received the worst news of her life.
“It’s a doorbell ring you never want to get,” Miniard said. “Two Jacksonville detectives were standing there at the door to tell us we had lost our child.”
An autopsy revealed that her son had died from a fentanyl overdose. She said Evan thought he was taking heroin, but it turned out to be heroin laced with fentanyl.
According to Miniard, Evan battled drug addiction for 15 years — an addiction that started with pain pills following a car accident that left him injured.
“Eventually, when he couldn’t get any more of the pain pills prescriptions, that’s when he turned to the cheaper available street drugs,” Miniard said.
She said she and her husband put Evan in various programs to help him kick his addiction, and they had him admitted for a mental evaluation when he became a threat to himself and others, but the drug addiction was too great.
Now, they worry about others who could suffer the same fate by purchasing drugs laced with fentanyl.
“They don’t know what they’re dealing with. They don’t know what’s out there on the street,” Miniard said.
Miniard had a message for parents of young children who may be easily influenced to experiment with drugs.
“Talk to your child. Your family is not immune from this disease,” she said. “It’s in every walk of life. It can strike anywhere at any time.”
SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357 (Confidential free help, from public health agencies, to find substance use treatment and information.)