David Pease, 23, HeroinLast Updated: Friday, August 17, 2018
As told by his father
My wife and I divorced when Dave was 15 at the time and trying to find himself. He spent most of his remaining teen years looking for answers in a mixture of marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol. His drug use became evident over time and I butted heads with him constantly. In retrospect, I was good at confronting—but not at addressing and solving the root problem.
I will always regret not having been strong enough to insist that he get help for his substance abuse problem. His mother and I had tried on many occasions but Dave protested vehemently and dug in his heels. We just never fathomed that his need for a buzz would lead him to experiment with heroin.
The phone rang at 4 one morning. It was Stamford Hospital and the voice said, “Your son, Dave, is here, and there has been an accident.” She added, “Is there someone who could come with you?” At that moment, I knew. I woke his younger brother, Casey, and we drove in silence to the emergency room. We were brought to a waiting room where a distraught young couple sat holding hands. They had been with Dave in New York City, and had driven him to the hospital. After about 10 minutes, a nurse arrived and asked me to come with her. As she led me into a nearby room, the hospital chaplain appeared and took my arm. In a split second, my heart, and my life as I knew it, had stopped.
The sight of Dave’s lifeless body was jolting. I wasn’t sure I could or wanted to take another breath. As a practicing Catholic, I instinctively whispered the Act of Contrition in his ear, asking God to accept it as if it were coming from Dave himself.
The hours and days that followed are still a blur. I learned Dave’s friends had driven him around for hours before seeking help. They had been at a bar in the city and claimed Dave returned from a trip to the men’s room saying he had just done some “stuff”, felt weird, and then collapsed on the floor. They were afraid of getting themselves or Dave in trouble, so they carried him to their car and drove him back to Connecticut. These were wasted, precious minutes that likely would have saved his life had they acted more responsively and sought medical help immediately.
Two years later, we would lose our second son, Casey, to a drunk-driving accident. He had fallen asleep at the wheel after a night of binge-drinking and hit a tree. Removing Casey from life support was a decision no parent should have to make, but I knew he would not have wanted to exist in a vegetative state. Our youngest son, Brian, could not have experienced a more horrific adolescence, and yet he continues to press on. I am so incredibly proud of him for what he has endured and how he continues to display courage in the face of unimaginable pain from losing two brothers to drugs and alcohol.
Read more real-life stories about young people and substance abuse.