DENVER — The United States lost 100,000 husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters and friends to drug overdoses in a 12-month period for the first time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These overdoses, counted in a time period that ended in April 2021, marked a record high. And while it's a grim milestone and an imposing number, Tracey Ritter wants you to stop thinking of these deaths as statistics.
"I'm a parent and mom who lost her son to an substance overdose," she said.
Evan Ritter was 25 when he died in 2018.
"I miss his presence it’s the little things about him. The whistle the way he carried himself into a room. The way he spoke. His soft voice his brown eyes," she said. "He had charisma he had a warmth about him when he spoke. He had wisdom beyond his years and he was a family man -- he loved his family more than anything."
Ritter, in Denver, doesn't have the answer to solve this national crisis, but said Wednesday that sometimes the simplest things can have the biggest impacts.
"I think that’s where it starts is really getting to know somebody that is experiencing substance use. Ask them questions and educate yourself as much as possible," she said. "Know as much as you can and accept and love that person unconditionally knowing that when they’re ready for help and when they’re ready for treatment that you’re right there with them."
She shares her story with others to keep Evan's memory alive, and to help prevent deaths that she calls "tragic and not necessary."
"Evan fought the battle but he didn’t win the war," she said. "I think there’s help for other people as long as we communicate about substance abuse and we talk about it. And not only that but we help people through the process of battling substance abuse."
There is support for Coloradans looking to escape addiction. Advocates for Recovery is a non-profit offering help. Their number is 720-389-6393.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Full Episodes of Next with Kyle Clark