Mother speaks out about losing son to drug addiction

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Ryan Barr. Photo/Submitted.
Ryan Barr. Photo/Submitted.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 27. With the occasion in mind, Drug Free Fayette coalition member Doreen Barr courageously spoke about losing her son, Ryan, to heroin addiction.

What follows comes from Doreen, in her words:

“My life changed forever on May 21, 2015. I lost my second oldest son to addiction. Ryan was an honor graduate of Starr’s Mill High School, an athlete who set football records that still stand today. He went on to play college football and in his junior year he was injured in a football related accident and needed surgery after which he was prescribed OxyContin.

“I had no idea at the time that he was prescribed the pain medication for almost two years which led him to become an addict. He graduated college with a degree in exercise science while hiding his addiction. Ryan eventually moved on to heroin because the cost of OxyContin on the street was too expensive while heroin was much cheaper.

“I will never forget the day our family found out the terrible truth about Ryan’s addiction. We experienced every emotion possible — anger, disbelief, sadness, helplessness, confusion. What do we do? How could this be happening? We found a rehabilitation facility where Ryan stayed for three months.

“I was so uninformed about addiction that I thought Ryan was cured. Unfortunately, one year later, Ryan relapsed and was poisoned by heroin laced with fentanyl.

“Throughout our addiction nightmare I never spoke about it to anyone, not even my best friend. There is a shame and stigma associated with addiction but I am no longer ashamed and will no longer remain silent. Today, I am speaking out for drug education and awareness, as addiction does not discriminate.

“No community is immune from this epidemic as drug overdoses killed over 74,000 people last year in the United States. According to the CDC, nearly 200 people die every day from overdoses and every 19 minutes someone in the U.S. dies from an accidental overdose. In 2017, deaths from addiction increased by 16 percent in Georgia.“

“Data shows that 53 percent of prescription drugs are bought or taken from a friend or relative, which is why it is important to lock your medication in drug lock boxes and dispose of unused or expired drugs safely at your local law enforcement agency.

“As a community, we need to be aware of the dangers of taking prescription drugs without a prescription by being mindful of this epidemic and educating ourselves to take action. One way everyone in the community can help is by participating in the DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

“On Saturday, April 27 between 10 a.m.-2p.m., residents of Fayette County can participate in the National DEA Take Back Day by securely disposing their unused and expired medications at one of the following locations: Peachtree City Police Department, located at 350 Georgia Hwy. 74 South; Fayetteville Police Department, located at 780 Jimmie Mayfield Blvd.; and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, located at 155 Johnson St. in Fayetteville. Additional drop box locations within Georgia and more information can be found by visiting https://takebackday.dea.gov/.

“I now belong to a club that no one ever wants to be a member of. I am a parent who has lost a child, an ‘Angel Mom.’ In Ryan’s name I will speak out to tell our story to possibly save another life, to save another family, to save another child.”