This week on Dayton Youth Radio, we have the first of two stories about teenagers dealing with the opioid crisis. Today we'll hear from Megan Johnson, a senior at Centerville High School.
My story is about my 25 year old cousin, whose life was taken by the use of heroin. She overdosed on Fentanyl. I did this story because this is something I think about on a daily basis every night before I go to sleep, losing someone who was so close to me to drugs and seeing what it did to my family.
When I think of a heroin addict, I envision a dirty, homeless person blitzed out, standing in an alleyway, not someone I know. Ashley was beautiful; she was very pretty, a little bit chubby, which always made her self-conscious. She was an only child. Ashley grew up in Springboro in a beautiful home, with doting parents. Our moms took us to King’s Island, and we had sleepovers, Thanksgiving and Christmases together - everything.
Ashley’s story is like so many others. She could be a bit of a rebel and she liked bad boys. Her boyfriend was into drugs and soon Ashley was too.
The next few teenage years were a bit messy. She decided to get a job and go to a small college to college. Then she had a baby. She moved back in with her parents, living in the nanny suite in their basement. She finally decided to get clean and went to rehab. She was in and out of rehab a couple of times, but the last time seemed good.
The last time I heard from Ashley was Wednesday, June 23rd – she sent me a selfie of herself holding a new dog, a little baby dachshund, named Lucy. Ashley was back, she looked happy.
On Thursday, June 24th it all came to an end, Ashley died. She overdosed on Fentanyl.
I had a nail appointment that Thursday in the evening with some of my girlfriends. My cell phone rang and I picked up, it was my mom. She couldn’t talk, she was crying so hard – she said, "I need you to come meet at Aunt Becky’s house now."
When I pulled into the driveway, the police and coroner were there. They were all outside, my mom, my sister, my aunt and uncle, my grandma, my other cousins. We hugged and cried. There was nothing any of us could do.
The next few days were a blur. I was afraid to fall asleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t be around my friends. It was just too hard.
The visitation and the funeral were on the same day. There was a long line for condolences, it took hours. The funeral was sad. Ashley’s five year old daughter kept telling everyone to touch her mom’s hair because it was so beautiful and then she put a pink, yellow and blue string bracelet on her mom’s wrist before closing the casket.
I just wanted my message to be that drugs are a really bad thing to get into. Just one person could be doing it, and it effects a ton of people. My story ends with losing my cousin, and my family never being the same. Family is really important, and the gatherings are important and that doesn’t happen anymore.
Megan Johnson is a student at Centerville High School. Special Thanks to Tricia Rapoch, teacher for the Communication Arts Program at Centerville High School. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.centerville.k12.oh.us/CHS Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.