Drugs today are not like they used to be.  Drugs like alcohol, pot, and even cocaine aren’t the drugs causing kids to die (though they are much more potent today than back in the day). They aren’t even the hard core drugs from 20-30 years ago like crack or heroin (heroin, by the way, is now taken by kids as a pill. As the police investigator informed me, so many drugs these days are blended with poisons and toxic chemicals that it just takes one dose to cause death. The most commonly abused drugs today are poorly-reproduced prescription medications such as Xanax and Klonopin (commonly called a k-pin).  These are simple anti-anxiety pills that are readily available. Too many of these pills, combined with alcohol, will literally shut the body down and cause death. That is what killed Stephanie – Klonopin and Alcohol.

Our kids need to know these things. With all the pressure kids have in high school (and even middle school), these anti-anxiety drugs are becoming more and more abused. Taken with excessive alcohol, the body’s organs literally go to sleep, one by one.  The body slips into a coma, and the child dies. The whole process takes about 6 hours. According to police, Stephanie’s “friends” with her that evening did not recognize the severe physical distress she was in.  They would have had plenty of time to call 911, but they didn’t.  The police tell me that unfortunately, this happens all the time.  The kids don’t call for help because 1) they’re also impaired so that it doesn’t occur to them to make the call, or 2) they fear that calling will result in them getting in trouble/arrested by the police.  And so it was for Stephanie.  Those with her simply thought she had “partied too hard” and that all she needed was to sleep it off. She did fall asleep, but she never woke up.  And no one even noticed until early the next morning.

Stephanie was always laughing and lived life fully, and we all miss her so much. Our kids miss her, and it has caused all of us unbearable pain and sorrow.
Stephanie should not have been taking these drugs, and she knew it.  She told me just the day before she died that she wanted to get help and get clean.  She was looking forward to her next semester of college.  She had big plans for her life, and she was just so upbeat. But 24 hours later, she was dead.

This death was preventable had she not mixed the anti-anxiety drugs with alcohol.  This death was preventable had those who were with her simply called 911. This was a senseless death that has turned all of our lives upside down.

I am posting this here to help educate and raise the awareness so that future deaths can be prevented.  If we can prevent just one more death from occurring, it will be time well spent. To that end, we are contributing 100% of all donations that have been given to us to the national drug awareness organization called “THE PARTNERSHIP AT DRUGFREE.ORG” (www.drugfree.org). Please click on any of their message boxes on the right of this page to go to their site, and consider making a donation at their site. They have a great organization dedicated to getting the word out and helping those with substance addictions/abuse.

Sadly, as I’ve learned more about drug abuse since losing Stephanie, I’ve discovered that there are countless parents across our nation who have experienced the same tragic loss of their kids for the same reasons that we lost Stephanie. In my opinion, as a nation, we’ve done a good job educating teens about the perils of drinking, but not enough has been done to educate our teenagers on the fatal dangers of drugs. For example, friends know not to let their friends drive drunk, but they don’t know how to recognize physical distress and call 911 when a friend’s life is at stake. I pledge the remainder of my life to help increase the awareness of these dangers, and will gladly do what I can to help others avoid this tragedy. Please join me in this effort.

Please feel free to share this story with your children and their friends.  Share it with neighbors and relatives. Share it with everyone you can.

With a broken heart,

John Tree
Stephanie’s Dad

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