Mom talks about losing son to heroin overdose
On April 2, 2014, Sherry Mitchell lost her 21-year-old son Dillon Venable to a heroin overdose.
His obituary described a young man who loved lacrosse and goose hunting and playing bass and acoustic guitar. A 2010 graduate of Queen Anne’s County High School, he worked as an estimator at Chesapeake Building Components at the time of his death.
His mother Sherry has shared this story because she wants people to know this is happening to people in this community. She also hopes her story will help save lives.
“I was naive, I never would have believed that my son, my perfectly perfect child would ever use heroin. He was a very good student all through school; he never studied for a test and always passed with an A or high B. He was a good kid, his friends were good kids. I don’t know when or why he turned the corner and decided to use heroin.
“I learned that my son was using heroin the day I found him dead — the day my world turned upside down, the day I can only remember snippets of now and some parts I wish I could forget. I prayed for amnesia in the months that followed his death. The pain and horror of this tragedy has changed me in many ways. Nothing will be right again in my world.
“As I said, I had no clue this was going on, I don’t know how long this had been going on or when it started or why. He was a smart kid. I was naive to think my kid was too smart to do something so stupid. I know way more now than I knew then.
“I spent many nights following his death on the internet, researching everything I could about heroin. It was torture (I was torturing myself, I couldn’t stop). I have never used drugs. I only knew before that heroin was bad stuff, probably the worst of the worst. I didn’t know what the signs and symptoms of using this drug were.
“I know now, and I also know that he exhibited those signs, I just didn’t know at the time that those were signs of drug use. I didn’t know what heroin looked like; I didn’t know what kind of packaging heroin comes in; I didn’t know that the belts I found in his room afterward were most likely used as tourniquets.
“I didn’t know that the time he told me he ‘lost’ his paycheck was probably really used to buy drugs. I didn’t know that him sitting on
my couch telling me he was hurting all over (but couldn’t tell me why) was a symptom of withdrawal. I know these things now, but knowing now is too late for me.
“I don’t know that things would have turned out any differently had I known, but I do know that I would have done anything in my power to fight that dragon with him. Anything to save his life.
“My son Dillon was a 2014 Talbot County statistic, he was 21 years old. The heroin he used that day was laced with Fentanyl. I don’t know where he got it, but he was communicating with someone to meet in Caroline County. It could have come from anywhere.
“My message for moms, dads, and grandparents: Opioid addiction and abuse can happen, even to your kid. Please educate yourselves and your kids about the dangers of this highly addictive drug family known as opiates. Know the signs of abuse, and don’t be afraid to seek help if you suspect use. A life saved is a heart not broken.”
Dillon Venable, 21, died of a drug overdose on April 2,