BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — As heroin use in the Valley and across the state continues to reach epidemic levels, a mother from Boardman hopes her story will help others.
Marilyn Burns said heroin led to the death of her son Christopher, while her son Jason is currently facing charges and lost his job over his addiction.
“When they are using, I don’t know where they go. You can look in their eyes and you will never find them,” Burns said.
After a series of surgeries from a football injury and a car accident, she said Christopher was never without pain. That is, until he went to college and someone turned him on to Oxycontin.
“He said ‘I feel like a kid finally for the first time. I feel like my age instead of an old man’,” Burns said. “They eventually find their way to heroin and from my understanding, Oxycontin is a synthetic heroin, so it’s the next place for them to go because it’s less expensive and it’s readily available.”
By the end of his freshman year, Christopher had been in trouble in school and went into treatment. He was clean for a long time.
In 2007, he moved to California to be with his brother Jason and to start a new life. Jason introduced him to a girl, but they didn’t know she was a heroin user.
“I got a call that he (Christopher) had mixed some drugs. He was with her in a hotel room and his heart stopped,” Burns said of her son’s overdose death.
After Christopher died, Marilyn said Jason began spiraling downhill with drugs. She believes he blames himself for his brother’s death.
“He lost the person he really expected to grow old with. There was just the two boys. I think it was just too much for him,” Burns said.
Earlier this month, Jason, who worked as a paralegal for the City of Warren, was arrested on drug charges. Police said he was high at work and a rock of heroin and other drug paraphernalia was found on him.
He has since resigned and is currently under treatment. Burns said addiction can happen to anyone, no matter where they come from. The key is understanding it.
“Know what you are talking about, know what’s going on so you can avoid the enabling because it doesn’t help our children at all,” Burns said.
She said she hopes her story helps others. In fact, she even wrote a book shortly after Christopher died titled “Lost No More.”
She said it’s important for parents to recognize the warning signs of addiction.
“They are making money and you know they are going to work but they never have any money and then the bills start falling behind and now they are asking for money for gas and other things. That is when you need to start turning over some stones and suspecting things,” Burns said.