GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Heroin heartache – it’s what’s happening to too many families. It’s what happened to the Abbott family who’s now without their fun-loving, sweet, kindhearted, Vanessa.
Randy Abbott, Vanessa’s father, is haunted daily by the words he once said after his daughter first overdosed from heroin in 2012.
“I stood in the parking lot with one of her friends, and I told her point blank. I said you need to understand something. This is not a game. This is Russian Roulette. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to kill you, it’s when it’s going to kill you. At that moment, I had no clue that those words would come back to haunt me this way.”
Vanessa was just 24-years-old when she died of a heroin overdose.
Her father now wears two bracelets on his arm to remember Vanessa and to raise awareness. One bracelet reads, “Stop Heroin Now” and the other, “Ask Me About My Angel.”
We asked Randy about his angel, in one of her favorite places, the Wind Chime Garden at the Greensboro Arboretum.
As Randy showed us her pictures, the wind chimes started to ring. He pointed to one of the photos and said, “You can see all of her freckles, and her big blue eyes, and her red hair.”
He said, “Vanessa was such a caring person with such a huge heart.”
Vanessa had been living at home for about 6 months when she left one Friday night and never returned.
“I went to the door and there were two detectives standing on my front porch. She wanted to know if we were the family of Vanessa Abbott. I knew then something pretty bad had happened,” said Randy.
“All I could think about immediately was, “Oh, Lord I’ve got to let her sister know, her brother was at home. How are we going to tell him? What are we going to do?”
Randy said he tried to talk his daughter out of leaving that night to go out with friends. But she told him, that she would be fine, and promised to be careful. Vanessa even told her dad, “I’ll see you at home in the morning.”
Randy said, “Her new boyfriend thought it would be a cool date night to do heroin together and that was it.”
That was it, Randy never saw his daughter again.
“I’ve said before, I remember that day like it was today and I think I probably always will,”
said Randy. “We really didn’t know what pushed her to do it.”
Randy said Vanessa was about to start a new job, “She had the most excited outlook on life that I had seen in years.”
But Vanessa’s heroin use stems to 2012. That’s when she first overdosed and was on life-support. Vanessa had gone through and completed treatment. Randy said, she had some relapses but for the most part was clean.
Even though addiction has taken Randy’s daughter away from him, he will never stop fighting to help save others. He said, “Vanessa would want that.”
Randy showed us his favorite picture of Vanessa. It shows her swinging over the mountains.
“And that’s her. It’s her looking off into the future. Kind of swinging into the heavens,” said Randy. “She truly was an angel to friends, to anybody who knew her and would give anything to anyone who needed help.”
Randy is now finding help of his own, while also trying to help save other lives by sharing Vanessa’s story.
He has joined a Hospice Overdose Grief Loss group. It’s where he, and others can freely talk about their loved ones while working together to fight against heroin.
Randy has also joined Facebook groups dealing with Heroin addiction and loss.
He will also be taking part in International Overdose Awareness Day coming up on August 31. The rally will take place from 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Bicentennial Plaza located at 1 E Edenton Street in Raleigh. The event includes free educational materials, prevention and support experts, overdose rescue training, and a remembrance for lost loved ones.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline
The SAMHSA’s National Helpline is free, confidential, 24/7, available 365 days a year for treatment referral and information services.
Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the online treatment locators.
National Council On Alcoholism And Drug Dependence
24-hour hotline 1-800-622-2255
More Details: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
211 Drug Recovery Addiction Hotline
If you or someone you know has symptoms of drug addiction dial 2-1-1 from any cell phone or landline for help. This is a confidential call and you will be connected with an organization that specializes in recovery.
Another number to call 866-401-6342 is a toll-free number that is available should your service provider be unable to connect to 2-1-1.
More Details: United Way Substance Abuse Addiction Services
Triad Drug Recovery Addiction Services
Call the Alcohol and Drug Services 1-855-801-9817