Knoxville Family Shares Son's Story After He Overdosed on Heroin
Reagan Craddock, 18, was two days away from graduation when he lost his life to a heroin overdose.
He was a brother, a friend to many and he was the only son to George and Kim Craddock.
"When you lose your son, you lose all those dreams that die with him and hopes. It's hard to imagine life without him," Kim said.
Reagan was smart, driven and had dreams of becoming a therapist, but like most teenagers, he had anxiety.
"We felt like he was a normal teen, going through some stuff, that he was going to outgrow it. Let's try and get him some help. We never realized that his life was at risk," Kim said.
Before Reagan left the Stem Academy, he broke his wrist and had surgery. Kim said he was prescribed pain medication and the prescription led to his downward spiral.
"We tried to get help for him, but we never realized he was doing the things he was doing," Kim said.
For example, George said Reagan used up his savings to buy drugs.
Two days before graduation, a night out with friends turned deadly.
"We got a phone call from his girlfriend and she said, 'You've got to get to the hospital, right away and they had to resuscitate him,' and we had no idea what we were walking into," Kim said calmly.
Kim and George stood at the hospital bed and prayed.
"We prayed for a miracle, but the miracle wasn't happening on this side of heaven," Kim said.
Reagan never got up from that hospital bed. He died from a suspected drug overdose. His death forever changed his family.
"In the end, God wanted him more than we did," George said.
The Knox County Drug Overdose Task Force investigates every suspected overdose death in the county. As of Nov. 21, 239 people have died from a suspected drug overdose in Knox County this year.
Prosecutors were able to connect Reagan's death to a man they believe supplied Reagan with the deadly heroin.
Reagan's parents believe their son is in a better place. To help them heal, they have attended a recovery ministry every Thursday night at Cokesbury United Methodist Church.
They've learned addiction is not only a disease, it also affects a person's soul.
"People keep trying to mask some originating pain in their heart," said Director of Recovery Ministries Pastor Mark Beebe.
Cokesbury has been doing recovery ministry for 15 years.
"What we want to do here is work to the heart of the matter, to the heart of the disease and what's really going on with people inside that they either aren't aware of or aren't attending to," Beebe said.
Beebe hopes through their fellowship, people will realize they are not alone in this fight against addiction.
"By yourself it's insurmountable, but with a fellowship of recovery it's not insurmountable," he said.
The Craddocks want their story to resonate with other families because for many, it's all too familiar.
"Please reach out, don't feel like you are all alone. Chances are the guy sitting next to you, is hurting just as bad," Kim said.
They wish Reagan would have reached out for help, but they find comfort in knowing he is now watching over them from above.
"I'd like to think he's always with me," Kim said. "When he left, a piece of me left and I miss him a lot."