Cindi’s son was twelve when he started experimenting with drugs

Well, to the best of my knowledge, he was probably about twelve when he first started to experiment with alcohol and weed. And it just gradually kind of bloomed into other drugs that he would experiment with.The kids that he was running with were all experimenting with whatever they could get their hands on. And as he got older, of course, the drugs became more serious. And he went through countless rehabs trying to get himself together, and it just didn’t happen. He’d come out, and he’d be good for a while, but he could never separate himself from the friends.

Her son was unable to find a drug-free circle of friends

And that was the key there was that…If you can’t walk away from the people that are that world you can’t…you can’t…stay clean. So he couldn’t do that. They were his bros. They were his best friends. His big line always was, “Don’t worry, Mom. My bros have my back.” And quite obviously they didn’t since they were responsible for letting him die. So, it kind of showed me just exactly who they were. But it was too late for him to see that.

And that was the key there was that…If you can’t walk away from the people that are that world you can’t…you can’t… stay clean.

At the age of sixteen or seventeen, her son’s situation started spinning out of control

I guess he was about sixteen or seventeen the first time we really had an issue. And, um, at around seventeen he started taking drugs from others. My parents were still alive and they had pain medications and different things. I took an anti-anxiety which, you know, we even locked. We got to the point where we locked my stuff into a locked box…so that he couldn’t…He figured out how to pry it open without unlocking it to get into the box so he could steal the medication. But he started stealing from us. Not just drugs. But then he started stealing things and hocking them to pay for the habit. He never worked. ‘Cause he said that only fools worked. “I can make so much more money just doing this. So why should I work?” And he had the freedom to come and go and do what he wanted. And for a while I kind of worked with that. And then I did the tough love and said, “No, you’re not going to do this in my house. I’m not gonna have this.” And I put him out.

Cindi’s son sometimes spent the night on park benches

And he bounced from house to house to house living with friends. And sometimes he said he slept on benches in a park. And I really don’t know. And then he would call and tell me he’s hungry. “I’m starving, Mom. I haven’t had anything to eat in days.” And, I’m like, he goes, “Can you give me some money for some food?” I said, “No, I’ll take you to eat. I’ll go buy you groceries. But, no, I won’t give you cash.” And at first he was kind of upset with me ‘cause I knew that’s what he wanted. He wanted to buy a fix, and he didn’t have the money. So he was hoping I’d hand him cash. I never gave him the money. I’d buy him a pack of cigarettes even if that’s what he wanted. But I kind of figured out. It took me a little while but I kinda figured out that if I gave him cash it was just going back into a drug.

When Cindi’s parents passed away, her son realized he needed to straighten out his life

I think watching his grandparents being so ill kinda made him see that he needed to straighten his life around. My father was probably his greatest influence in life. He was the only man that was ever there his whole life. I mean…and he respected my father and loved my father…and I mean…he was…he was it. And watching my dad become so ill, and watching him die I think kinda was like a wake-up call for him. And then we only had a couple months after my dad passed when mom was diagnosed with cancer. So when he’d see those things it kinda’  would straighten him around.  Like ‘I gotta get myself together because…ya know…life’s too short. Look at what’s gone on. They’ve lived their lives and now look what they’re suffering.’ And, you know, he would do real well for a little while. And then, he’d run into somebody. It was always somebody that took him back into the world that he didn’t need to be in. But there was no way to keep him away from it because they were everywhere. Everywhere he went he would run into people.

Like, I gotta get myself together because…ya know…life’s too short. Look at what’s gone on. They’ve lived their lives and now look what they’re suffering.

One day a police officer knocked on Cindi’s door

And none of us ever expected to get the knock at the door…you know. And you know when a cop comes to your door. And I didn’t even have to ask which kid it was. I knew the minute the police officer walked in the house. I knew exactly who he was there for. He was at somebody else’s house where there were a lot of other people. And Craig had drugs in his system so he did have drugs. But Craig didn’t die because of a drug overdose necessarily. Yes, they ruled it that. But he had a cheeseburger and he started to choke. And they laid him on his back on the floor and watched him aspirate on his own vomit and did nothing. He was dead an hour before they even dialed 911.

He’s like…It’s…I can’t tell you how many times I see this…where they could have been helped but nobody bothered to call for help.

Cindi is still not sure what she could have done differently to save her son

Everybody’s different. And I don’t think, honestly, Craig didn’t set out to die. I’m sure that that was not his plan that night. I’m quite positive that he went over to hang with his friends, and he thought he was Superman. You know, he’s got the mentality that so many of our young people have that they’re invincible. That I can do this…I can do that and it won’t hurt me. It won’t touch me “cause I’m different.” And they’re all…You’re all different but you’re all the same. And everybody’s triggers are different but the same. And it’s the same thing with getting help. I mean…I don’t…I don’t know if he ever had that ultimate click. I mean he would do good for a while and then he’d fall back off. And I don’t…I don’t know how he could have done anything differently. I really don’t.

Cindi’s son had never had a close call before

I don’t have an answer. And I don’t even know what to tell anybody that’s…that’s completely dealing with it because every single person walking in that drug world is a different person. Some people…You know, he never ODed. That was the only time. He never ODed before that. He had never had a close call. He had seen many close calls but he had personally never had a close call. And, uh, even the people that were with him that night…that watched him…stood there…watched him…And there was a parent in that house that he was in. And she stood there with her ten-year-old and watched my son die and did nothing. And, even those people that were there that night, they’re still doing the same things. I mean I’ve countless times been told, ‘Oh, by the way, so-and-so ODed.’ And I’m just like, you watched your friend die in front of your eyes. You watched him take his last breath and you’re still doing the same thing. You didn’t learn anything from watching him. I mean, how can you keep walking that life?

The coroner said if someone had called for help, her son could have survived

And then I found out later that there was people that were there that were sober. They were clean. There was noth…They had nothing in their system. They were just there hanging out and they left because they didn’t want to get in trouble…and never dialed 911. I mean, if you’re going to leave…fine. But you could have called 911 first and at least gotten him help.‘Cause the coroner told me his was a totally preventable death…that he should never have died. But due to the ignorance of the people he was with, it happened. He’s like…It’s…I can’t tell you how many times I see this…where they could have been helped but nobody bothered to call for help.

Cindi lost her son to drugs

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