Mother copes with son's overdose death 2 years later
An Anchorage mother continues to speak out about the dangers of opioids two years after her son died of a drug overdose. She hopes to pass on what she's learned to prevent the same thing from happening to another family.
"I'm much better than I was. The first year was basically shock," Karen Malcolm-Smith said.
Her 25-year-old son Dylan Fuhs died in June 2017.
"When he spoke to you he made you feel like you're the only person on Earth. And it was really a gift. He was able to engage with people and really show his compassion and love and caring," she said.
Malcolm-Smith says her son was first introduced to pain pills as a teen after a bad ATV accident. She says he later used opioids while partying in college, eventually switched to heroin and got hooked.
To help deal with her son's death, Malcolm-Smith has worked with other families struggling with addiction.
"It took the sting out of it and gave me a sense of purpose and a way to honor myself and God and my son," she said.
She also took inventory of herself and thought about the things she could have done differently to help her son.
"I was an enabler and a rescuer. Looking back now I can see that I didn't want my son to experience what I saw other people going through: jail or DUIs."
Malcolm-Smith says she should have dealt differently with some people who entered his life shortly before his death.
"I would have kicked the people out of the house that had infiltrated into his life that week that were using his house as a trap house to sell drugs," Fuhs' mother said.
Malcolm-Smith says she's also worked hard to forgive herself.
"I was able to forgive myself because I know that God forgives me, and I know that Dylan doesn't want me to live the rest of my life in regret and worry and remorse," she said.
Malcolm-Smith has thoughts for others about preventing someone from straying down a path of drug use.
"I think the most important thing that we can do as parents is model stability and love and peace in our homes," she said. "And sobriety," she said.
Malcolm-Smith is honoring her son and late husband as part of the David Dylan Foundation. She says her son was passionate about boxing and music, so she is offering some free boxing gym memberships or singing lessons to those in recovery. You can find more information at daviddylanfoundation.org.
If you or someone you know needs help battling addiction, resources are available. True North Recovery, Inc. can be reached at 982-HOPE (4673). A table of behavioral health resources is available on the Mat-Su Opioid Task Force Facebook page.
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