In late May, 25-year-old West High School graduate Dylan Fuhs had a passport photo taken. His mother says he planned to leave the country for treatment for a heroin addiction. That photo would be Dylan’s last picture ever taken. He didn’t make the treatment trip.
On June 5, he was found dead in his Anchorage home of an overdose. His mother says a needle was still stuck in jeans from an injection in his leg.
Dylan’s mother, Karen Malcolm-Smith, would rather focus on something else found on Dylan after his death.
“When he died he had the crucifix in his hand. And I can’t tell you what that meant to me.”
Malcolm-Smith says her son was spiritual and tried to help anyone in need. Just a couple things she wants people to know about Dylan.
In his obituary in the newspaper, the family writes that they hope sharing Dylan’s story will reduce the stigma surrounding drug addiction and shed light on the problem in hopes of preventing other families from going through the same thing.
“For him to admit, because we stigmatize addicts, for him to admit that he was an addict was admitting failure and defeat and he was weak. And he didn’t want to be weak. He didn’t want to show his weakness to people,” she said.
Malcolm-Smith says her son got his first taste of opioids after a bad ATV accident at age 14. She says he started drinking and smoking marijuana in high school. She says he later tried pills, painkillers, but those were expensive. Someone eventually talked him into trying heroin.
“He tried it and he thought it was the greatest thing he’s ever tried,” his mother said.
Dylan’s mother said he went to treatment a couple times and was doing well for a while but kept finding his way back to heroin.
While Dylan Fuhs died less than a month-and-a-half ago, his mother is committed to helping find solutions to addiction.
“And it feels to me now, I have to do something to continue his legacy. So that Dylan can live on and not just be gone,” she said.
Karen Malcolm-Smith will talk more about some of her ideas in fighting the problem Monday night on KTVA News Extra at 6:30.