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Kevin S.

By Kevin's mom, Sally

Kevin Michael Simon

Pittsburgh, PA

Kevin Michael Simon was born on March 11, 1992, and he died from fentanyl poisoning/heroin overdose on January 29, 2016, six weeks shy of his 24th birthday.

It is hard for me to condense where my son Kevin's struggle with heroin has led us, but it is important to tell his story so that others will realize it could happen to them too. Addiction is so much closer to home than you think, and its face is not necessarily the "strung-out junkie" living in the streets - the face of addiction is my son, your neighbor's daughter, the PTA mom who got hurt and was given a prescription and is now hooked on heroin. Addiction doesn’t discriminate, and it has never been more prevalent in America than it is now. We believe that it is important to learn as much as possible about the disease of addiction so that you are able to recognize it and find the help needed for recovery.

Our family wants people to understand how normal Kevin seemed to us in his everyday life: he was engaged, active and present. He did all of the things we did as a family, played his guitar, played with his dog, Moey, and he maintained friendships that began as far back as pre-school.

Kevin was the son I always wanted. He was a sensitive, loving child who rarely got into trouble, usually did what was asked of him and always showed respect. Kevin was an incredible brother to his two older sisters - loving and gentle, but also brutally honest (especially in terms of "that dress looks terrible," which was always appreciated).

Kevin was also sweet and kind, funny and playful. He was soft-spoken with a gentle soul. He was fun-loving and involved, and the last person we would ever think would try drugs - especially heroin! Kevin was just a kid who got caught up in the heroin epidemic, who somehow maintained his normal lifestyle, graduated college, and yet ultimately fell victim to the drug that is taking so many of our youth today.

Kevin enjoyed listening to music, playing disc golf, and watching Harry Potter. He had a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and he was a talented musician - self taught on the guitar. He had his first voice lesson the night he passed away, as he had hoped to get involved in the music industry in some way.

Despite his developing struggle with addiction, to us and our extended family and friends, Kevin never showed signs of his drug use. He was the exact same kid we had all known and loved through the years. This is why his death came as such an astounding shock to so many people. To any outsider, he lived the life of a healthy 23 year old - a recent graduate, on the job hunt.

That being said, Kevin always had a quiet and shy demeanor, which we later realized was an indication of his anxiety. Kevin’s anxiety never stopped him from having fun with his family or his close friends, but it affected his social, academic and professional life. This is where I believe we, and he, went wrong, and heroin went right. His anxiety had taken a hold on him; we long for the ability to go back in time and recognize anxiety and depression at the first stage, where it could have been addressed long before heroin sunk its sharp and evil teeth into him.

No one in the family was prepared to understand or deal with Kevin's addiction. He downplayed it, and it was difficult to know when he was using until we started to educate ourselves by going to the inpatient and outpatient treatment center family meetings, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and The 6 Steps to Sanity meetings.

We first learned of Kevin’s struggle with addiction in July 2014, when he was arrested for possession of heroin paraphernalia. He told us that it was only the second time he had tried it, but we later learned that he had been using heroin since the spring of 2012. In September of 2014, he was given probation for this charge.

The following December, Kevin successfully graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. We gave him a surprise drug test that month, and he tested positive for heroin. We required him to either seek treatment or move out.

In January 2015, Kevin started outpatient treatment, but he was caught using and required to go to an in-patient treatment center. He remained there until March, when he began receiving Vivitrol shots until he began using again in July.

From July to October, Kevin tried to get Vivitrol shots, but he wasn’t clean and was turned away. During this time, he was still attending meetings and working full-time. In November 2015, Kevin used someone else’s urine and was given the Vivitrol shot. He immediately went into precipitated withdrawal and was never the same.

In January 2016, Kevin went to a 3/4 house, but was asked to leave on January 28, 2016 and attend an intensive treatment center because he was unable to stay clean. Instead, Kevin went to a friend’s house where he ultimately overdosed and died.

Addiction is a disease that is treatable. Sadly, Kevin was taken before he was ready to get real help and commit to a recovery program.

We will forever miss our beautiful boy. We hope he has found peace.


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