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From personal tragedy, mom seeks to warn as fentanyl-laced drugs lead to increase in overdose deaths

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 12:04 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Drug-overdose deaths have reached new highs in the U.S. with data from the CDC showing Kansas among states seeing the largest increases in overdose deaths, up more than 45 percent between April 2020 and April 2021. In addressing the concerns, Eyewitness News spoke with a Wichita mother who saw her two adult children struggle with addiction.

Marcia Brown said her children started to struggle with addiction while in high school and it followed them into adulthood. Kristen and Brady Brown died about 17 months apart. Their mother says people need to understand and take seriously the severity of the disease impacting people, no matter where they are in life.

“There’s so many struggling, and (who) have been struggling and will continue to struggle,” Marcia Brown said.

How addiction takes the ones you love is a harsh reality for her.

“It’s just a disease, the addiction, that takes over your life,” Brown said.

She said Kristen and Brady were funny and loved one another.

“They were just good-hearted people, had a lot of compassion for others,” Brown said.

Photos of Kristen and Brady are prominently displayed in Brown’s home as they’re remembered and serve as motivation for Brown to make a difference.

“We will live the rest of our lives without our children,” she said.

Brown said after Kristen had her wisdom teeth extracted, she was prescribed an opioid that started her addition. Brady was exposed to drugs while in high school. Brown said as adults, her children started using heroin.

“Both of them could hide their using very well,” she said.

For years, Brown said they tried to get help for Kristen and Brady. This required many occasions of tough love.

“We attempted to just stay in their lives so much, and they were in our lives,” she said.

Kristen died March 14, 2020 following an infection linked to drug use. Brady died Aug. 24, 2021 after an overdose.

Brown said her son was going through treatment at the time and it is suspected his overdose was caused by fentanyl-laced drugs.

“We have yet to get the toxicology report,” she said. “They said it would probably be six months out because there are just so many.”

The CDS this week, said fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills and the COVID-19 pandemic led to overdose deaths topping 100,000 for the first time in a 12-month period.

Brown said taking any illicit drug is a gamble.

“Everything, it seems, is laced with fentanyl, whether it be marijuana, benzos, benzodiazepines and heroin, especially,” she said.

Brown wants people to understand this impacts people of every background, every walk of life.

“It is real and is such an epidemic,” she said.

Brown encourages people not to give up on those struggling with addiction, but helping them does require tough love and standing firm. Earlier this year, the DEA took the unusual step of issuing a public safety alert due to a sharp increase in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl. A deadly dose of fentanyl can sit on the tip of a pencil.

There is help out there and resources can be found through the Federal Helpline: 1-800-662-4357.

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