Guest Column

Heroin in Our Community

Nick Privitera

My amazing son, Nick, died of a heroin overdose on Feb. 8, at the age of 23. He had his whole life ahead of him. He was an addict. Did he choose to be an addict?  Unequivocally not! Did he make bad choices? Yes, like the majority of teens, he chose to experiment with alcohol and drugs. Only for him, like for so many others, his drug use turned a switch on in his brain that, once activated, unfortunately does not have an off button.

Addiction is defined by the National Institute of Health as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. Addiction is not a moral flaw, or a weakness or caused by a lack of willpower. Once addiction settles in, free will goes out the window.

Nick tried and tried again to stop. He did not want to do drugs. He was tortured by his addiction. His addiction resulted in behaviors he was not proud of, including getting in trouble with the law. He voluntarily admitted himself to several rehabilitation centers, including Phelps, Arms Acres and numerous inpatient rehabilitation centers in Florida. He abstained for months at a time and in fact had been drug free for eight months before he relapsed and passed away in February.

Sign Up for E-News

It was a daily struggle. It was painful for him to repeatedly let himself and his family down, and it was painful for everyone who loved him to watch him destroy his life.  It is difficult if not impossible to be released from the grip of a heroin addiction.

Make no mistake: This disease does not discriminate. It affects the rich or poor, black or white, educated or uneducated, those who come from intact families and those from broken homes. It can happen to anyone with a propensity toward addiction.

Heroin overdoses have increased fivefold between 2010 and 2013 and although the figures for 2014 are not yet out, I am fairly certain the numbers are increasing still.  Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought my loving son would have been a part of that statistic.

My life now consists of looking for evidence that there is an afterlife, because the thought of never seeing my son again is too unbearable to swallow. I spend my time reading books about mediumship, going to mediums or listening to those who have had near-death experiences. I wouldn’t wish this tragedy on my worst enemy.  Please be kind to the individuals and families suffering from this disease. The pain they experience is no less worthy of your understanding and kindness than any other misfortune.

I remember being at a Drug Crisis in Our Backyard meeting not long ago where someone said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” How true that is. I was afraid to curse when I was a kid because I knew if a “grown up” heard me, my mother would find out. As a community, we need to come together to care for all of our young ones.  If you see something, say something! Our kids deserve it.

Yes, Nick was an addict.  He was also the sweetest kid with the biggest heart. He was a gentle giant who was full of compassion and empathy. He was an amazing artist and singer and he taught himself how to play the guitar. He was a loving son who told me at least once a day and every time he hung up the phone with me that he loved me. He loved his family, especially his cousins. He loved to make people laugh.  He is missed beyond words. He was my world, my pride and joy.

Happy birthday in heaven, Nick. You are always in my heart. Until we meet again.  Love forever, Mom.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Old? Sick? Disabled? Die Broke!

Immediately after passing the $1.5 trillion tax reform bill last December—further enriching the “one-percenters” and exploding the national debt—House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke to a throng of fellow conservative legislators in the U.S. Capitol rotunda as they congratulated themselves on their dubious achievement. 

“House Republicans will aim to cut spending on ...

You’ll Get a Kick out of Musical Classic ‘Anything Goes’

I’ve loved Broadway musicals since I was smaller than a piano bench. That’s one reason I enjoy writing about local productions in this space. The more people who go to musicals, the happier it makes me.

I didn’t realize how old-fashioned about musicals I could be, though, until my wife Elyse and I at long last saw “Wicked.” It only took us 15 years to get there.

A (Burnt) Toast to Love and Marriage, on the Rocks

In its first few moments, sitcom-style comedy “Clever Little Lies” grabs audience attention right away, with one of the most revealing wardrobe changes you’ll ever see on stage. It is done modestly but just provocatively enough to elicit vocal appreciation from amused patrons.

The fast-paced play, starring Richard Kline of TV comedy classic “Three’s ...

The Adventures of Superdog

I was always very impressed that my dog could bark on command and come when I called his name, until I read in the newspaper about a dog that saved his owner’s life by calling 9-1-1. Apparently, when his owner had a seizure, the dog pushed a speed-dial button for 9-1-1, barked into the receiver for help, and then opened the door when the responders arrived.

Honestly, though, it’s ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Carmel Cinema 8, Carmel

Screening: “Suicide: The Ripple Effect”

Health & Wellness

Fri, July 27, 12:00 PM

Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park, Carmel

Putnam County 4-H Fair

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar Education Food & Drink


Sat, July 28, 10:00 AM

Hubbard Lodge, Cold Spring

PCDOH Free Rabies Clinic

Health & Wellness

Three from Houlihan Lawrence Named ‘America’s Best Real Estate Agents’

July 20, 2018

John Kincart, Douglas Dill and Annette Cicinelli have been named among America’s most productive sales associates as a part of REAL Trends America’s Best Real Estate Agents, the newly issued ranking report produced by REAL Trends and sponsored by Zillow Group. They are now members of the “America’s Best Real Estate Agents.”

REAL Trends America’s Best Real ...