Heroin ‘never let go’ — In NJ man’s obituary, family holds nothing back
VENTNOR CITY — The story is disturbingly familiar.
Wendy Galbraith's son, Carter Stone, was involved in a car accident and injured his back. He was prescribed opioids to help with the pain.
When he ran out of pills, he hit the streets to find a similar high. But that was becoming too costly. So he moved to the next and cheaper option — heroin.
On Sept. 26, Stone overdosed and died inside his Ventnor City home, at age 32.
"It's just a horrific epidemic that is killing an entire generation," Galbraith told New Jersey 101.5.
In an attempt to make even the smallest dent in the growing problem, the family held nothing back in Stone's obituary, sharing his story of addiction — a topic considered taboo just years ago — and urging others to help their loved ones who may be dealing with a similar issue.
"Unfortunately, in the last year of Carter's life, he used prescription opioids to cope with some stressful situations ... In a matter of a couple months, heroin took a hold of Carter and never let go."
Galbraith, in the several months prior to Stone's passing, witnessed his life fall apart. He couldn't hold a job. Drug dealers were chasing him for money. He was arrested for driving while under the influence.
A two-week rehab stint in Vermont, where Galbraith currently lives, did nothing. He returned to using the same day he left, Galbraith said.
Earlier this year, after three months at a sober living home in Atlantic County, it looked like Stone had a second chance at life. He landed a managerial job at a local car dealership and finally seemed happy.
"Sadly, a momentary lapse of judgement resulted in a relapse that took Carter's life from him in an instant."
Beyond increasing awareness of the issue and hopefully prompting others to look for signs of addiction, Galbraith said she hopes the honest message signals to addicts that they can admit they need help "without feeling like they're horrible."
"If you know someone who is suffering from addiction, please seek out resources to help. If something doesn't seem right with a friend or loved one, listen to your intuition and speak up. Please don't wait. It could mean the difference of life or death. Most importantly, always tell your loved ones how much you love them."
Stone's family is not the first to use a loved one's death as an opportunity to shed light on heroin and painkiller abuse.
In a Sept. 3 obituary for 26-year-old Troy A. Wilcox Jr., of Franklin, his family asked that "everyone create a dialogue about this horrible disease" that took Wilcox's life. The obituary for Bradley Yucius, who was laid to rest in Newton on Sept. 23, said he was working hard to get healthy, but "heroin won."
In August, a Middlesex County funeral director minced no words after seeing a spike in addiction-related deaths come across his desk. He posted an essay titled "F**k you, Opioids," and he's not known as a man who swears.
“We’re not in Trenton. We’re not in Newark. We’re not in Camden … We’re in East Brunswick. We’re in Middlesex County, a fairly affluent area," he told us in August. "The deaths we’re handling are from good families, from good parents. People that I know, that as far as I can tell, they did a good job. So where did the addiction come from? Where did the poison come from? It’s insane. It’s really insane.”
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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