By Dayne's mom, Shannon
I have two children, both of whom have struggled with the disease of addiction. My daughter, Brittany, is in recovery and very involved in the sober community. I lost my son, Dayne Brandano, on July 25, 2015, when he relapsed.
Our family has been dealing with the heroin epidemic first-hand since 2006 when Brittany was hit by a car. While undergoing surgery for her injuries, the doctors discovered a tumor on her ovary. They sent us home with a script for liquid OxyContin
I’d never heard of the drug before, but one day I noticed that most of the liquid was gone and had not been taken as directed. From that point forward, we tried everything to help Brittany: tough love, endless understanding and support, various detoxes, rehabs, etc. Within six months of abusing her prescription meds, my daughter was a full-blown heroin addict.
After battling with insurance companies who refused to cover long-term care, we decided to send her out-of-state to a privately-owned facility. To date, our family has spent almost $100,000 on residential treatment and high-end sober living in California.
She was 18 years old when she left for California and Dayne was only 10. He worried about his sister a lot and witnessed many things that no 10 year old should. On one occasion, my daughter had him urinate into her drug testing cup.
Dayne started smoking pot at a very early age and was smoking regularly by the time he was 11. He graduated to percs at the age of 14 when he found a script that my mother in-law had at her house. From then on, residential treatment stays were the norm for him. His final stint in treatment was at Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane, Utah when he was 16.
Dayne was doing well in treatment until his biological father (who did not financially support our children) decided to pay for Dayne’s plane ticket home from Utah. When I found out, I told his father, "You are the nail sealing his coffin shut."
Dayne finally got sober about 4 months before his final relapse. When he came home from Utah he looked amazing and I could sense peace in his eyes. I knew he really wanted to stay sober and I could finally sleep at night. The night before he died, he came home looking like he’d been smoking pot. I calmly told him that we were going to look for treatment options in the morning and that I loved him. That was the last time I saw him alive. He didn't shoot up that night, and we still don’t know what actually killed him.
I feel cheated. All of our hard work for nothing. We, as a family, did everything we could to save him and I still can't accept that he is gone. I tried getting help from every corner; fighting for a bed, fighting with insurance companies, etc. Danye’s stepfather and I were involved, loving parents who volunteered at school and enrolled our kids in every sport and activity. I know in my heart that this is a disease of the brain. Dayne was an amazing human being with the most beautiful soul--many who knew him have said the same.