One September morning, Ian’s mother found him dead in his bed of an accidental heroin overdose.
Ian James Eaccarino was a promising college student with everything to live for. He was bright, athletic, popular, and handsome. He was dearly loved by his family and by his many friends.
Ian started using tobacco and marijuana in the eighth grade. He was in denial about the problem, minimizing it as so many young people do.
When Ian was drug–tested in high school, his friend helped him switch his urine sample with that of the friend’s brother to cover up his drug use. Subsequently, Ian was re–tested and he tested positive for marijuana.
Ian agreed to go to counseling, but was not able to get in touch with the emotional problems that were at the root of his risky behaviors and continued drug use. But Ian became very good at disguising his drug habit. All through high school, he excelled on the baseball team and was the third highest scorer on the lacrosse team.
In his senior year of high school, his car was firebombed in the driveway of his home. He gave his parents a different explanation, but they later realized it was tied to drug activity.
Nine months before he died, Ian and two friends snorted heroin for the first time. He was a college sophomore at the time. One boy became scared, one became sick—and Ian liked it. When he finally went to drug rehabilitation, he told his mother: “Mom, there is a smorgasbord of drugs at college. If you don’t have the money, they would give it to you for free and then you’re hooked.”
During his last summer, while he was in counseling and recovery, Ian renewed his close relationships with his family. He played tennis with his mother, golf with his stepdad Larry. To his doting big sister Candace, who has Downs Syndrome, he was a ray of sunshine.
Though he realized what he had done to his life and to his family, his pain became excruciating. But he couldn’t stop.
The evening before he died, he told his mother, “I want to see the doctor in the morning and I don’t want to move in with my friends.” But even with all the remorse, the drugs were bigger than he was. That night, he relapsed and took a final hit of heroin, which would kill him as he slept.