Opioid Epidemic Touches Chatham Mother Whose Son Died of an Overdose

Kelly Loofbourrow, coordinator for MACC Credits: TAP Chatham
Marilyn Musielski, coordinator for MACC in Madison Credits: TAP Chatham

"There were no needles, nothing injected. No pipes. Nothing smoked. You drank it in a tea. And it killed you. Dead the day before my birthday. Dead one month before your 23rd birthday."

Written by a Chatham mother in a letter to her son

CHATHAM, NJ - Kelly Loofbourrow and and Marilyn Musielski are like the Paul Reveres of their time, trying to warn everyone in the Chatham and Madison communities of the invading enemy. The only problem is that it's an enemy most people don't see coming.

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"Most people have a stigma about drugs and the thinking is that in New Jersey the problems are in certain communities," Loofbourrow, coordinator for the Municipal Alliance Committee of the Chathams. "The reality is that is no longer true. Because of an additive called Fentanyl, over the last five years, drug overdoses have doubled."

The Municipal Alliance Committee of the Chathams (MACC) is out to spread the word about the dangers of prescription drugs, 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30 in the Chatham High School auditorium with an Opioid/Heroin Awareness: From Crisis to Opportunity seminar.

"The United States uses 80 percent of the opioids and we use 90 percent of the hydrocodone," Musielski said. "Seventy five percent of heroin users started with prescription opioids. If you take a prescribed opioid before the age of 18, you have a 33 percent more of a chance of substance abuse later in life."

Given that heroin is now being made cheaper to purchase and that the drug is more addictive than ever, it's important to know that delaying the use of prescription painkillers is vitally important.

"There are other pain-management options," Loofbourrow said. "For someone under the age of 18, opening that Pandora's Box is unnecessary."

Below is an open letter written by a Chatham mother after the tragic loss of her son to a heroin overdose.

There were no needles. Nothing injected.

No pipes. Nothing smoked.

You drank it in a tea.  And it killed you.

Dead the day before my birthday.  Dead one month before your 23rd birthday.

My beautiful, sweet, kind, brilliant, accomplished, funny son is dead.  And the hole in our lives will never be filled. 

We had no idea you were using heroin and we do not know why you started. We will never know.  

It has been three months since three policemen came to our door at 10:30 on a Thursday night to inform us that you were dead.  Found by your roommates, in your bed. 

After the screaming, after the tears, after the drive to your school the next day, after meeting with the detective, after seeing your cold lifeless body, after putting your cremation bill on a credit card, all we could say through our tears was - Why? 

Why did this happen?  You had straight A's last semester.

Why did this happen?  You were going to graduate Cum Laude in May.

Why did this happen?  You already accepted a fantastic high-paying job.

Why did this happen?  You had to take drug tests to get your three internships.

Why did this happen?  We spent a wonderful month with you at Christmas.

Why did this happen?  You knew heroin could kill you.

All we are left with is photographs, memories, and questions. But it is only the questions that multiply.

We will get no more photographs. We will enjoy no more memories. But we will forever question why.    

Was it from the drugs prescribed when you had your wisdom teeth removed?  

Was it from painkillers from the herniated disc in your back?

Was it from your anxiety?

Were you curious?


You told someone that you "knew how do it safely."

You were wrong.

There is no safe way to do these drugs. 

You may get lucky once. 

Or twice. Or more. 

But there is no coming back from the hold it has on you. It always wins in the end.

Addiction or Death. Those are the only choices it gives you.

And for you, my beautiful, sweet, kind, brilliant, accomplished, funny son - it was both.

Addiction AND Death.

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