Original Article By: Stephanie Langston, WKRN News Channel 2, Nashville
Posted: Aug 02, 2018 05:55 PM CDT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A family is sharing their story of heartache after losing their son to addiction. Now, they are doing what they can to raise awareness about the crisis.
It was a battle the Witthauer’s faced for years. They told News 2 despite numerous rehab facilities, the disease was too powerful for their son Greg. “I lost my brother to this disease, but losing my child was much worse,” Karen Witthauer said with tears in her eyes.
At the age of 13, her son Greg had his first taste of drugs. “They smoked marijuana on the beach and then it was head to the ground from there.”
His use increased, and after being dismissed from the soccer team for a drug offense he entered rehab at 15. But he soon relapsed. “He was trying to find something that he could control that would make him feel better. The whole progression, he went through cocaine and from opiates to pills to heroin,” Greg’s father Mark told News 2.
The struggle didn’t get any easier. Several rehabs later and some legal issues finally gave Greg some clean time, almost two years.
“He was working, and he was doing really really well. He bought a car and his job was stable and he was really proud of himself, you could tell,” said Karen. However, a back injury landed Greg a Lortab prescription and he was back using fulltime. “He only had 10. He gave him a prescription for 10 and that was all it took,” stated Karen.
The Witthauer’s said he was never able to put together a long stretch of sobriety again. This time he spent three months in a Florida rehab. “and he was gone within two weeks,” said his mom.
Greg was found in his car near Percy Priest. He had overdosed on heroin likely laced with meth.
“We knew in our hearts that he had probably overdosed somewhere but even though you still get that phone call and it’s like the whole world just starts spinning around,” explained his father. Today Karen wears a bracelet that reads “always have heart,” the same tattoo her son had across his chest. “Even though he had the disease of addiction, I was very proud of my child, very proud of the man that he was, I was proud of his heart, of how he treated people.”
In his sober time, they said Greg wanted to help others struggling with addiction. Now they hope to carry on his mission.
The Witthauer’s started a fundraiser called always have a heart in their son’s honor that goes to support those in treatment.
On August 12, they are hosting a forum, Breaking the silence: Addressing Youth Substance Abuse. It will be at Our Savior Lutheran Church.