Dustin Manning was just 19 years old the morning that a toxic mix of heroin and fentanyl took his life. At 180 pounds, the amount of fentanyl in his body was the equivalent of just three grains of salt. That’s all it took to end his short life on May 26, 2017.
Less than an hour after Dustin’s parents, Lisa and Greg Manning called 911, emergency crews were sent just a half a mile down the road to the home of another unresponsive teenager. It was Dustin’s childhood friend, Joseph Abraham, who had been found slumped on the floor by his parents, Dave and Kathi Abraham.
“This happened within 18 houses of each other to two young men on the same morning. The community was in total shock,” said Kathi Abraham.
Though Dustin and Joseph hadn’t been in touch for several years, it is believed they purchased this particular drug from the same dealer.
The two teens grew up as childhood friends, playing on the same little league team, and spending time in the neighborhood together.
It was in middle school when both Dustin and Joseph began toying with drugs and other suppressants on their own.
The Abrahams believe Joseph was first exposed to opioids after having his wisdom teeth removed. He was prescribed the pain killers again when he broke his ankle, and later his hand, both playing sports.
“When you’re given a prescription from a doctor, we often just trust that,” Kathi Abraham said.
She says the death of two close friends in the eighth grade is what led Joseph to turn to drugs.
Dustin on the other hand, began suffering depression around the age of 12. He told his parents that drugs and alcohol were what gave him a way “out.”
Both parents did as much as they could to help their sons, but treatments weren’t enough to save Dustin and Joseph’s lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fentanyl, which is believed to be 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, was first devised to treat chronic pain. Though a minuscule amount can be fatal.
In just three years time, the number of people killed by fentanyl has skyrocketed from 3,000 to 20,000. That’s a 540% increase.
Now these parents believe early education and prevention is key to saving more lives.
No family should ever have to experience the loss of a child to something that should be better regulated. The Mannings and the Abrahams have begun spreading awareness in their community with the hope that their experiences will save someone else from the addiction, pain and emptiness they’ve had to live.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction, contact the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline now by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).