The mother of an Ohio man who died of a drug overdose has detailed her son's struggle with addiction in a remarkably honest obituary.
Adam Bear was 25 when he overdosed on heroin April 27. His mother has decided to share his story in order to help raise awareness of the opioid epidemic afflicting society.
"[Adam] will always be remembered for his charming personality, disarming good looks and welcoming smile," Michelle Benson wrote in the obituary, adding, "Unfortunately, he will also be remembered as a statistic."
Benson explained that, after graduating high school, her son "made a bad decision to experiment with prescription opioids."
"This eventually led him to the world of heroin," she wrote. "Once heroin got ahold of Adam it never let him go. Adam's family truly loved him and tried to be supportive as he struggled with addiction. He fiercely fought for years."
"All Adam wanted was a normal life, free from the chains of addiction," she continued. "Even though his story came to a sad end much too soon, if a life can be saved because his was lost, his goal of helping others will carry on."
Benson urged people who have friends or family members struggling with addiction to speak up and confront the issue.
"If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, be assured that there are resources that can help," she wrote. "Please don't be afraid of risking a friendship by keeping silent -- you may end up losing a friend. Local resources include Nar-Anon Family Groups, The Addicts Mom and Breaking Barriers-Hope Is Alive."
Speaking to WEWS, Benson explained how important she thinks it is to get rid of the stigma currently associated with drug addiction.
"What we've learned is that there are so many families struggling and they just keep it quiet because it's shameful," she said. "They're ashamed and there's a real stigma attached to that, and we have to break that cycle if we're going to do something about that suffering in addiction."
She is now committed to helping society take steps toward realizing that goal.
"For our family, at least we know Adam is finally at peace, but we want to be part of helping other families, sharing resources and just talking about addiction to try and erase that stigma," she said.
"We are excited about the things we can do to turn our family's grief into something positive," she added.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), 12,990 people died of heroin overdoses in 2015. An additional 20,101 died after overdosing on prescription painkillers. Four in five heroin users start out by abusing pills, with 94 percent saying they switched to heroin because it's cheaper. In 2012, 259 million opioid prescriptions were written, which ASAM notes is more than enough to provide every American adult with their own bottle of pills.