Since 1999, more than one million people have died from a drug overdose in the United States. On International Overdose Awareness Day, we reflect on these senseless preventable deaths. Today, we hear from previous Wisdom Shared guest Anne Pratt on the loss of her brother Daniel from an accidental overdose. May this powerful personal story help spread awareness and compassion for all those affected by the devastating impact of today's out of control epidemic.
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Anne's previous episode: A Mother Shares Her Journey of the Joys and Challenges of Raising a Child with Cerebral Palsy
[00:00:00] My name is Anne Pratt. I live in Montrose, Colorado with my husband and two boys.
[00:00:07] In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day, I wanted to share the story of my younger brother, Daniel. Daniel was born in October of 1989, and I remember the day my parents brought him home from the hospital. He was this adorable, chunky little baby, and I just remember wanting to hold him all of the time.
[00:00:33] And, growing up we had the typical sibling relationship one day, we were nice to each other. And the next I was mad because he wouldn't leave me alone or, following me around all the time. Drove me crazy. But one of our favorite things to do together was playing outside, in the creeks, finding snakes and all kinds of good things.
[00:00:57] And also playing Mario on Nintendo. We were pretty good, and of course that would always lead to more fighting, but in the end it was always good fun. When I was 12 and I think he was eight, our parents divorced. And I feel like that was a moment in Daniel's life that changed him somehow.
[00:01:17] I mean, I was upset and it definitely wasn't easy, but I think I was old enough to know, was for the best. As Daniel and I grew older, we didn't have that closeness that some siblings have. We grew apart. I enjoyed school and just overall I was a giant dork. He was into sports.
[00:01:38] He was good at everything he tried and then, school was just one of those things that he just did, he had to do. As many of us, myself included, do in our high school years as we know, we try to find that group of people we connect with. We also try new things.
[00:01:53] I remember drugs and drinking at parties. But I also knew even at that age what my limits were. I knew I wanted to go to college and I wanted to be a scientist. And I just noticed that Daniel didn't seem to have that drive. He was just that fun living kid that everybody wanted to be around.
[00:02:11] I kind of knew that something was wrong when I'd wake up and things from my room or my purse would be missing. And then, when I'd confront Daniel about it, I could just tell that he was lying, something was not right. So that was like a turning point in our relationship.
[00:02:30] I felt like I couldn't trust him. And, my parents and I, we couldn't figure out what was behind it. Why was he stealing from us? What was the motive? It wasn't until I was in college that I learned that Daniel didn't have that ability to stop or know what his limit was.
[00:02:44] He was drinking all the time and it just kinda happened so fast. I mean, it was just like a switch. Drinking was always there. And then the next thing I knew it was cocaine and heroin and pills. And in about 2013, our family came to the conclusion that Daniel had become an addict.
[00:03:07] He was a heroin addict and in, I think it was 2016, he had his first of many overdoses. His life just became consumed by it. There's so many stories that I could tell about Daniel and his consequences from his addiction, from stealing, car accidents, fighting, you name it. But what many people may not understand is that Daniel was still a person.
[00:03:41] He was my brother. He was a dad to two amazing boys. He was a son and a friend. he tried so hard for so many years to get himself clean. He was in and out of rehab more than I can count on my hand. I saw him suffer. We all did, and we knew that he wasn't gonna live. He wasn't gonna live. He and he knew that he couldn't live that way anymore.
[00:04:09] Daniel also suffered from depression. Many addicts suffer from depression. He just never felt like he was good enough. And you know, what he didn't know was that he was. On April 11th, 2021, after moving me and my family to Colorado, I got the phone call that I somehow knew was inevitable. It was 2:00 AM and it was from my mom. And so before I picked up the phone, I knew what I was gonna hear and it's that phone call that anyone who's ever lived with or known an addict fears the most.
[00:04:45] After Daniel spent nearly a month in rehab, he was released. I remember he spoke to us. He spoke to my mom especially about telling her how much he had changed and how excited he was to go home to see his boys and his family. But that darkness was just waiting for him.
[00:05:03] Two of his friends, I guess you could say, were immediately told of Daniel's release from rehab and. God, they tracked him down like a deer in the woods. They knew that Daniel would come back. So Daniel purchased cocaine from them and went home to see his family.
[00:05:18] Within about 10 minutes of snorting his first line, he instantly fell to the floor. He had a dangerously high fever, vomiting and became short of breath. Within 10 more minutes, he went into full respiratory failure. Daniel died.
[00:05:33] Daniel's cocaine had been laced with fentanyl, so much so there was enough, I think they said, to kill 20 adults. For anyone who doesn't know the danger of this drug, it only takes about three milligrams, I believe, to kill an adult. After Daniel's autopsy, his blood test revealed that his system contained 65 milligrams of fentanyl.
[00:05:56] He didn't deserve to die like that. None of them do.
[00:06:01] While this was an accident, it was an accidental overdose from him not knowing that there was fentanyl in his cocaine. It's something that's just happening far too often. You can't hide from it. It's everywhere. It's in the smallest of towns to the biggest of cities.
[00:06:16] I wanted to share this story in hopes that at least one person out there can learn and become informed of how common overdosing has become. It's so common that our EMTs and police now have to carry Narcan. It's just like a normal thing.
[00:06:31] Daniel was definitely a starand unfortunately, Daniel was a star that found its way into the path of a black hole. His chance for escape was slim to none, and it is my hope that his story can save another star from this deadly and inescapable path.