INDIANAPOLIS — Becky Savage never expected her sons to make a bad decision that would ultimately cost them both their lives. Sadly, they did. Nick, 19, and Jack, 18, both died after someone offered them a prescription pill and they swallowed it, while they were drinking.
“We were very involved parents,” Savage said. “I’m a nurse and we talk to our kids about just about everything; sex, drugs, drinking, illicit drug use, things like that. But to be honest, five and a half years ago, prescription drug use was not even on our radar. We weren’t aware in our community that people were doing that, so that is a conversation that we did not have with our kids.”
Savage said the boys were out enjoying their friends’ graduation parties on June 13, 2015. During one gathering, someone offered them the pills. Savage remembers waiting up for them that night until they got home, and making eye contact with them.
“They went in the kitchen and started making bagels and cream cheese and I went to bed, not even knowing that our lives were about to change,” Savage said.
Savage said Nick and Jack excelled in sports, had good friends and made good choices. She never expected to find them dead of an overdose.
“The next morning, I was doing laundry and gathering laundry out of Jack’s room when I noticed he wasn’t breathing,” Savage said. “Called 911, started CPR on him. In the meantime I was hollering for Nick because I knew that Nick was at home. His friends went to awaken him. They were in the basement and found Nick in the same position that Jack was. We lost both of them that day.”
Savage said she wishes she and her husband would have talked to their oldest sons about the dangers of prescription pills. That is why she travels the country to talk to teens and parents, and to urge them to come up with a safety plan for their children.
“How do we get out of a situation if we’re in a situation,” Savage explained. “I really encourage kids to have an exit plan. This is something that you’ve talked with your parents about. If you’re in a situation, how do I get out of a situation? My youngest son and I, we have a word. He’ll text me a word. If I get the word “now” on my phone, I know that he’s in a situation that he’s uncomfortable with and I will go pick him up, no questions asked.”
Savage also partners with the Drug Enforcement Administration on prevention efforts like the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which is coming up on October 24.
Michael Gannon, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the DEA in Indiana, pleads with people to properly dispose of your unwanted or unused prescription pills.
“If you need prescription that a doctor gives you and you’re supposed to utilize it, then they’ve examined you,” Gannon explained. “They’ve made sure that your body and your chemistry can take that prescription, what they’re giving to you. Never take anybody’s prescription medication because your body may not be able to handle it.”
Gannon urges parents to talk with their children about prescription pill misuse and points to the DEA’s Red Ribbon page and www.operationprevention.com for resources.
Savage and her husband also started the 525 Foundation in memory of their sons. They also have support and resources available on their website, www.525foundation.org.