After years of battling opioid addiction, my son Daniel Weidle, passed away from an overdose on December 26, 2015. Here is more info…
I will never forget December 27, 2015.
I was laying down in the sand at Fort Myers Beach, 1000 miles from home. I just had a pizza and a beer at a nearby beach bar. It was high noon, the sun was out, the waves were calm and light. I hear my phone text alert and I thought about ignoring it but I didn’t. And the text read, “I’m so sorry, Daniel was my best friend.”
At that moment, my world stopped and the world and I have never been the same since. I would like to share parts of that story with you because it has the potential to save and change the life of a friend or loved one. I call it Daniel’s Story. Daniel was my firstborn son. The story is one that thousands of families have experienced, including my own. I have watched in horror and tragically lost my cousin, Dirk, my nephew, Andy, my stepson, Zach, my only brother, Ron and my firstborn son, Daniel. All to opioid addiction. Four of those five started with prescription opioids. The Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health at Ohio University published a study in 2019 about the number of life years lost in Ohio between 2009 and 2018 from this epidemic. Its findings were that more than one million life years have been lost in Ohio alone. My family lost 160 life years.
Why did this happen? This prescription opioid epidemic was first recognized by the state of Ohio around 2010. A former Ohio attorney general has openly shared these four facts. The average opioid prescription in 1997 was 7 pills. By the year 2010, the average opioid prescription grew to 67 pills. Nearly a 900% increase. 3/4 of heroin users started with prescription opioids. The pain med problem has fueled the heroin epidemic. Currently the state of Ohio’s prescription drug monitoring program called OARRS contains a yearly legislative report. This report states that the average opioid prescription is currently 60 pills. Prescription opioids are a schedule II substance, which is the most dangerous substance permitted to be sold legally. A schedule II substance carries this definition: Substances with high potential for abuse. With use, potentially leading to severe psychological and physical dependence. The Primary Medical Brain Disease of Addiction is considered in the medical journals as Chronic and Progressive. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
When I lost my oldest son, Daniel, to this epidemic I had not yet made the strong connection between prescription opioids and heroin. I learned too late that they are nearly one and the same affect the brain once ingested. Heroin is an opioid. I wish someone would’ve educated me two decades ago about what Addiction is and is not. I carry a lot of remorse now knowing I have made some very bad mistakes as a parent and as a family member towards those that battled this disease in real time in front of me. I wish I had understood the simple medical conclusion about addiction, for a medical condition to be elevated or classified as a disease, it must pass 3 criteria.
- It must be detrimental to your Health. Addiction is often fatal.
- There must be a specific set of signs and symptoms. With addiction, there is.
- The most important: There must be a medical test that when given is always abnormal.
Did you know that fibromyalgia is not classified as a medical disease, but addiction is? With addictions to chemicals there is clearly a medical test. That test is a brain scan. Someone in the throes of Addiction, weeks sober, will often show substantially reduced brain activity in the frontal lobe area compared to someone not battling Addiction. Your frontal lobes control your cognitive decision-making processes. Most people look at addiction as simply a daily choice by an individual. That is not the case once the disease stage begins. Addiction to a schedule I or II substance is chronic and progressive, like cancer. Let’s say everyone here started smoking at 18 years old. A number of you will develop lung cancer because of smoking, a number of you will not. The reason for this is genetics. You have very little, if any, control over who develops cancer and who does not. The same basic theory works for who develops addictions and who does not.
There are two other potential factors involved in developing Addiction besides genetics; one factor is the untreated or undertreated mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic disorders, ADHD etc. The other is overexposure to schedule I or II substances. These factors are the significant causes to how the primary medical brain disease called Addiction develops. I did not understand any of this until a year before Daniel lost his battle with this disease. Once I understood the medical side of addiction, it did change how I was able to relate to, and help Daniel, and I’m very thankful for that. I believe it meant a lot to Daniel that I understood his battle. I know find myself replaying all the days, weeks, and years that I spend with Daniel not understanding his disease. I was actually doing more harm than good. What I just shared is medical science-based information but yet the mainstream medical system denied my son his ninth consecutive Vivitrol injection, a non-addictive Addiction medication that was working for him. This is what I call the medical discrimination of the disease of Addiction.
The vast majority of medical providers will prescribe opioids knowing they carry the definition of: A substance that has a high potential for abuse. With use, it can lead to severe psychological and physical dependence. While 99% of these medical providers will not help treat Opioid Addiction should you develop Opioid Addiction. I was told by Daniel‘s primary care physician that it was his business decision to not treat addiction. Other excuses I’ve heard, they say they were not trained in that type of care. All the while the system openly promotes office-based opiate treatment clinics without requiring substantial medical education about Addiction treatment by its state licensing agencies.
If you have ever filled out a medical questionnaire at a first-time office visit to a medical provider you are most likely asked about your past family history. Any cardiovascular cancer family history? Any colon cancer family history? Any breast cancer family history? Because they know genetics is a huge factor in your chances of having the same results. Not once have I been asked about my family history of Addiction. If they had, I would have answered: My father, Ron, battled alcohol addiction for 50 years. My grandfather, Bruce, battled alcohol addiction. My great grandfather, William, battled alcohol addiction. 2 of 3 three died from that disease. In the mid-1990s the mainstream medical hospitals had residential addiction treatment floors or wings dedicated to the disease of Addiction. I know because I visited two of my close family members inside these systems. These hospitalized treatment wings were done away with by the end of the 1990s. Ironically, this is the same period that mainstream medical began dispensing opioids for the first time inside primary care facilities for long-term pain. This is why the 900% increase in prescription opioids occurred. “Dose till the pain is gone” was one pharmaceutical sales pitch. Many of these problems could easily be reversed but even the obvious common sense corrections have not yet occurred.
After Daniel‘s passing I was more than very distraught. I forced myself to rewind Daniel’s life and to educate myself about this subject. The more I learned, the more infuriated and distraught I became. I learned my son had the DNA that made addiction highly probable. I had learned that mainstream medical openly began to increase prescription opioid dispensing by 900%. I learned that they stopped treating addiction inside mainstream medical hospitals. Once I connected these dots, I went to the state capitol weekly for 18 months as a private citizen with the sole purpose of changing this broken system. I hired a lobbyist, out of pocket, to help me advocate for changes. I walked out with Daniel’s Law. But it was not the reform hopes I had started with. I also filed a wrongful death civil suit. I walked away with a settlement. Now my daily morning prayer ends with: Daniel, I still love you. Please forgive me for not having done more.
I hope you now have a little more knowledge about this subject. I hope you use it wisely. Education is the key to reducing the stigma of addiction, improving treatment options for addiction, and educating what Addiction is and is not to everyone. To learn more about Daniel’s Story, it’s told in the book, Little Boy Lost: A Dose of Reality. Thank you for your time today as well as your future consideration to my plea to educate yourself. That effort may save a loved one’s life.
In the time you have spent reading this, there have been 2 more overdose deaths occur in the United States.
Little Boy Lost
Follow along with a father who was dealt a difficult hand as he recounts the tragic story of his family, ravished by one of the greatest mistakes in modern medicine.
“This book certainly opened my eyes to the disease of addiction.”
“Scott and Wes bared their souls in the writing of this book and at times made me shake my head at all the heartaches and trials that one family has had to endure. The history of Daniel’s family and how genetics played into his addiction makes so much sense. I give Scott and Wes so much credit for their perseverance in bringing this epidemic to light, more so than we otherwise would have known. I believe the average person would have given up when faced with the oppositions they faced in trying to change the system. Through tears and sometimes laughter, I am so glad I bought your story of Little Boy Lost. I pray for only good things to touch you both and your family as you move forward.”
– JJ on Amazon.com
Daniel’s Peace Memorial Park
A privately owned public park that exists to educate and empower others facing the issue of opioid addiction; and to provide a place of refuge and peace for the spirit, mind and body.