My name is Molly Gay, and I am a student at the University of Georgia. I grew up in a loving home with a wonderful family and group of friends, and never once thought that addiction would ever be a concern to those in my life. But about two years ago, my world was turned upside down, and I learned very quickly just how powerful and devastating prescription drug abuse can be.
I grew up just down the street from my two cousins, Jeffrey and Chris. Chris is my age, and Jeffrey was three years older. We attended the same school for most of our lives, so I was fortunate to be able to see them on a daily basis, allowing us to have a very close relationship. I would pass Jeffrey in the halls often, and each encounter consisted of a big hug and smile, and an “I love you, Molly." He had more friends than I could count, and loved nothing more than to spend time with them and his family. He was always positive, and could light up any room and make anyone laugh or smile. His joy and happiness did a great job of masking some of the struggles that he was beginning to face. During his high school years, Jeffrey started drinking with his friends, and smoking marijuana. As he got older, those poor habits escalated, and he started experimenting with other drugs, including prescription. I was naïve to a lot of what was going on at the time. He was such a great guy, was always so happy and loved everyone around him so much that I just couldn’t believe that he could ever struggle in any way, especially with addiction.
He continued to struggle through high school, and eventually was sent to a treatment center in Alabama. After the program, Jeffrey decided to go to Young Harris College. Shortly after school began, he was arrested for underage drinking and possession of marijuana and was put on probation. After the Fall semester, he transferred up to Montana State University. He was assigned to a probation officer in Montana and his first drug screening a few days into the semester showed that he had taken drugs before he even left Georgia. The following August, he was at a party that was raided by police. He was ticketed for underage drinking, violating probation yet again. He started to realize he was in a downward spiral that he could not get out of on his own. He called his dad and told him he was going to kill himself if he could not get the help he needed.
Jeffrey spent three months in a rehab center in Atlanta, followed by three months in a halfway program. He got a full-time job, started taking classes at a community college and was definitely well on his way to bringing his life back onto a stable and positive track. It seemed to everyone that he was doing well and staying drug free, but his addictive nature caused him to eventually revert back to his old ways.
On October 17th, 2012, he met up with an old friend from his past and went out to a party. The next morning his friend woke up and found that Jeffrey was not breathing. He was rushed to the hospital where doctors found traces of opiates, a common painkiller in his system. The combination of the drug with alcohol caused a condition that he could not survive. He was kept on life support for many hours until his younger brother Chris was able to get to the hospital to say goodbye. After an entire day full of tears, questions and hundreds of visitors, Jeffrey was pronounced dead. He would have turned 22 exactly one month later.
This will always remain as one of the hardest things my family will ever go through. Jeffrey was by far the nicest and most caring person I was lucky enough to know. If this disease could control his life, it has the power to affect anyone.