Laura Fry has not seen her son in 17 weeks. She knows he is alive. But he’s in bad shape. He is a heroin addict who is on a downward slide, again.
“I put the word out there, I’m here for you,” Fry said. “I love you. Whenever you are ready, I am here.”
Alexander Mathiesen is like many of young men and women in Lake County who are struggling with heroin addiction. And Fry is like many parents who are struggling to help.
She formed the United Partnership for a Better Community, a Wauconda-based organization, trying to raise awareness of drug addiction. The group has organized its first event, a candlelight vigil on Sunday, Aug. 25 to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.
The actual date is Aug. 31 and is being recognized all over the world.
Fry has received 40 names of people who’ve died of an overdose along with their photos that she will place on poster boards. Their names will be read at the vigil along with about 292 names of addicts still struggling, she said.
Fry decided to start talking about her experience because she felt it if could happen to her family, it could happen to anyone. And it has. Her best friend Terri Bartlett’s son Michael died last year of an overdose.
Both Michael Bartlett’s and Mathiesen’s names will be read at the candlelight vigil. Terri Bartlett will be a speaker along with a recovering addict from Barrington.
“This is my baby because I have a son who is a heroin addict,” Fry said, United Partnership for a Better Community and the vigil.
She formed the organization four months ago after talking with other families about the need to bring awareness to how bad the village’s, and county’s, drug problem has become, she said.
“I have a unique perspective. I see overdoses when they come into the emergency room,” said Fry, a critical care technician at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. “There is not a week that goes by that we don’t have an overdose. I’ve seen them as young as 15, just going into freshman year, with heroin overdose.”
Her own experience began when Mathiesen tried heroin two years ago. His life began spiraling out of control ever since. He lost his job. He lost his car. He lost everything. He was on probation, skipped out and is wanted on a felony warrant.
Fry tried to help her son, taking him to rehab and counseling but he walked out. She is now left waiting for him to decide he wants help.
She is not sure how he got involved. Heroin is a huge problem in all the high schools in the area, but he just started using two years ago, Fry said. He tells so many lies that she can’t be sure what to believe. Addicts are master liars and manipulators, she said.
Addicts are also dealing with a real disease, she said.
“These are sick people,” she said of addicts. “They are not bad people. Part of the healing is bringing it out in the open and stop making it a bad thing.”
The candlelight vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Wauconda Memorial Park at the corner of Route 176 and Main St. in Wauconda.