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Mom Shares her Opioid 'Nightmare' — Her Son's Death

The news Cleveland resident Rachel Goins received last April was the real-life manifestation of every mother’s worst nightmare.

Her son, Mason Crisp, was dead. A law enforcement officer informed her that her son had perished of a drug overdose at the age of 24.

Goins said her son struggled with addiction to prescription opioid drugs for about six years. However, his drug use had “intensified” in the months prior, following a traumatic event in which a friend was harmed.

“It got to the point where I always feaared that phone call, every hour on the hour,” Goins said. “Still, I somehow never actually expected it. When it did come, I was in disbelief.”

Mason didn’t always struggle. He was an honor student at Walker Valley High School who played three sports — football, basketball and baseball — and had made good friends in the process.

When he graduated from high school in 2010, his future was looking bright. He had grown up in a Christian home, and it seemed he would continue to follow a good path.

“He had a good life ahead of him, but he got caught up in what the world offered, which was evil,” said Goins.

To this day, she does not know for sure what led to him becoming addicted to opioids after high school, but she knows they began to rule his life.

Goins said he acknowledged this and had promised to get better. Two weeks before his death, he told his mother he was filling out job applications and making positive plans for the future.

He had promised to visit his mother the night before his death. However, he never showed, and the reported overdose indicated he had relapsed again.

To this day, the call sharing news of his death haunts Goins. She wonders what more — if anything — she could have been done to save his life. Every time she hears of another drug overdose in Bradley County, she wonders if yet another mother is agonizing over the same question.

“It’s tough. Every time I hear about another one, I get very emotional,” Goins said. “Nobody should have to go through that.”

She said the grief she continues to feel on a daily basis is “indescribable.” However, she is sharing her painful story to help make sure no other family has to endure what hers did.

Earlier this year, Goins attended an event hosted by local nonprofit organization ATS The Bridge. This organization emphasizes “awareness, treatment and sustainability” as it offers a variety of programs about the dangers of drug use.

Learning about their work inspired her to share her own story and get involved. She is teaming up with The Bridge to host an event this fall which will encourage people to help those who are struggling.

“Light the Night,” an event to raise awareness of the prevalence of opioid addiction and remember those who have died, is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Greenway Park.

The event will cover several “dark” subjects and talk about ways people can “be a light” in those situations.

These subjects include addiction, depression, abuse, eating disorders and bullying.

The event will feature several speakers and tables with information on substance abuse and other topics, along with live music and activities for kids. The event will conclude with a candlelight vigil to remember people who have died from opioid overdoses.

Families affected by drug overdose deaths are sometimes hesitant to tell their stories, in part because of the "stigma" surrounding addiction. However, she said this issue is too important to keep quiet.

In fact, she said silence about the issue can keep addicts and their families from finding the help they need to overcome addiction. Goins said she has recently learned about many helpful resources she wishes she had known about when her son was alive.

“If it will save one person, I’m willing to go all the way,” Goins said of her willingness to shed light on her personal pain. “If you can be the light for someone else, you need to do it”

“Mason I don’t think had anyone to be the light for him, to get through to him in the way he needed,” she added. “We can be the light for those who are struggling like he did. As long as they’re alive, there is hope.”

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