We Can End America's Addiction Crisis... But Only Together
The Upper East Side Magazine|Issue 61

I had a horrible feeling that late October Friday in 2012.

Jim Hood

God knows, I’d been in that situation many times before – wondering if Austin was OK.  But this time felt different. That Wednesday, he left voicemails that sounded confused – from a friend’s phone, because Austin had misplaced his, again. On Thursday, Austin sent texts from that same phone. Something wasn’t right. I called the friend I didn’t know and told him I was concerned about my son, and asked him to have Austin call me. Several hours later the friend called to say he went to Austin’s apartment but no one was home. I thought about getting on a plane to New Orleans to make sure everything was all right. I don’t know why this time seemed so different; I just knew it was. A few hours later I received a blocked call. I couldn’t answer in time, and there was no message. Three minutes later a call came in with a New Orleans area code. It was the coroner saying my beautiful boy was found slumped over his kitchen table, dead from an opioid overdose. Austin’s journey was over; mine was just beginning.

Like every son or daughter, Austin was a wonderful person. He had his issues, but mostly he was just a kid trying to grow up in a world that throws endless challenges at all of us – some we understand, some we don’t; some we share, some we keep hidden deep within. A loving boy with a huge heart, incredible mind, and amazing sense of humor. He was on his way to becoming a world-class guitarist. Austin loved John Mayer and was nearly as good.

But at age 14, we discovered Austin was drinking. We were deeply concerned and sought help. By 15, we found pipes and marijuana in his room. Our concern intensified, and we sought more help. By the time Austin was 16, he was using opioids. The next three years were a blur of therapists, interventions, wilderness programs, therapeutic boarding schools, and ER visits. Three years later, Austin was doing great. He went off to college with newfound determination and optimism.  But in the middle of sophomore year he was struggling again. He took time off and entered an intensive outpatient program. He completed that program, got a great job, and everything was looking up again. Until those 48 hours that I will never be able to understand or reconstruct. Until the phone call came that would bring any parent to his or her knees. Until he lost his battle and I lost my son. Someone said losing a child is the greatest pain we will ever face. They were right.

Looking back, I wondered why it was so difficult to help Austin. Why was it he saw or went to 18 different people or places for help? Why was there no roadmap? Why did I feel like we were lurking in shadows the entire time? Was this our journey, alone?

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM THE UPPER EAST SIDE MAGAZINEView All

Vice President Joe Biden Redraws The Battle Lines In America's Longest War

I know of no cadre of people in the world more desperately in need of hope than the sixteen million people with cancer,” Vice President Joe Biden told the nation’s leading cancer researchers and clinicians at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago on June 6, 2016.

7 mins read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

We Can End America's Addiction Crisis... But Only Together

I had a horrible feeling that late October Friday in 2012.

6 mins read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

The Heirs

Eleanor belonged to that class of New Yorker whose bloodlines were traced in the manner of racehorses: she was Phipps (sire) out of Deering (dam), by Livingston (sire’s dam) and Porter (dam’s dam).

5 mins read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

Scott Swimming Pools

Scott Swimming Pools, Inc. is a luxury design-build swimming pool company celebrating its 80th year in business this year.

1 min read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

Saint In The City

Seeking the star man on the streets of soho.

4 mins read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

One Atlantic Events

Over the ocean, your perfect special event venue is waiting.

1 min read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

Mah Jong Memory

I remember mah jong through a haze of memory and my mother’s Benson & Hedges cigarette smoke.

6 mins read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

Colonial Day Along The Gold Coast

Do you know about colonial day?

3 mins read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

Breaking The Fourth And Fifth Wall

How Dear Evan Hansen Has Gone Beyond the Stage to Impact Teen Suicide, Bullying, Mental Illness and Social Media.

10+ mins read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 61

The Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center

IN the 1950s and ‘60s, when Lincoln Center was being built and Carnegie Hall was scheduled for demolition, few believed New York City could handle more than one performance space each for concerts, ballet or opera.

6 mins read
The Upper East Side Magazine
Issue 59
RELATED STORIES

Young U.S. Jews Shift on Israel

Millennial and Gen Z progressives question American support of Israeli policies, a point of tension for the Democratic Party

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
June 14, 2021

An Exclusive Interview With Daniel Sackheim

Daniel Sackheim is an American Film & Television director and producer best known for his highly acclaimed series as HBO's True Detective Season 3, Game of Thrones, and FX's The Americans.

10+ mins read
Lens Magazine
May 2021

PENTAGON TO STEALTH FOES: BRING IT ON!

Preps for cyberwar as rogue nations chisel away

3 mins read
National Enquirer
May 31, 2021

FBI – Two of a Kind

Playing agents on FBI is serious business. But when Missy Peregrym and Zeeko Zaki get together to talk about their roles, the conversation is a lot more fun than fierce.

3 mins read
CBS Watch! Magazine
May/June 2021

Saving Youngstown. Again

One U.S. president after another has promised to turn this Rust Belt city around. Now Joe Biden is planning to steer millions of dollars in federal funding to revive manufacturing. So where are the jobs?

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Markets
June - July 2021

Averting a Telehealth Cliff

As legal relaxations on remote health care expire, supporters scramble to keep them

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 24, 2021

TRADITIONAL TO MIXED!

OBSERVATIONS ON THE JOURNEY FROM TKD TO MMA COURTESY OF ANTHONY “SHOWTIME” PETTIS

10+ mins read
Black Belt
June/July 2021

How To End Extreme Child Poverty

Buried deep in the latest pandemic stimulus package is a transformative approach to helping families.

10+ mins read
The Atlantic
June 2021

Black Land Matters

After a century of dispossession, young Black farmers are restoring their rightful place in American agriculture.

10+ mins read
Mother Jones
May/June 2021

Watching The Watchers

Let’s stop freaking out over kids’ pandemic screen time

4 mins read
Mother Jones
May/June 2021