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It’s Not Worth It: Hayden’s Story

It’s Not Worth It: Hayden’s Story

Hayden was a Missouri teen, caught in an emotional battle with drug addiction. Heroin took his life, along with the lives of 15,446 Americans, in 2016.

With the opioid epidemic at the forefront of the news, these statistics resonate with us all.

  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, three out of four heroin users report their first opioid was a prescription drug.
  • On the Missouri Student Survey, 18% of Missouri teens report to taking a prescription drug such as such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax, one or more times during their life without a doctor’s prescription.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that the most common source adolescents obtain these prescription drugs are “from a friend or relative for free.”
  • Furthermore, a study by the National institute on Drug Abuse found that depression increases the likelihood of teens trying a variety of drugs.

Know what is happening with your teen and don’t be afraid to have a conversation with them about the dangers of drug use.

This is Hayden’s story.

My name is Hayden Graver. My parents were in and out of my life my entire childhood so I lived with my grandparents most of the time. My parents disappointed me time after time and I just said screw it. I started smoking weed when I was 15 but soon started doing harder stuff like Meth and Heroin. I was involved with the wrong people and was either strung out or high on something every night. I was using to escape my situation and always chasing a life I didn’t have. But, then I got busted. I was arrested January 22, 2016 and sent to rehab. For the first month, I was a jerk to everyone there but eventually I started to work the program, I made amends with people I had wronged and graduated the program a model client. I started high school again in the fall of 2016 and started making new friends. My goals that fall were to make all a’s and b’s and get back into shape. I was doing pretty well until my demons found me. I began living a double life. I was one Hayden to my family and friends and another Hayden when I wanted to get high. I would say anything, tell any lie to anyone, to make sure I got my fix. It didn’t matter how much love and support or material things my family provided for me. All I wanted was to escape and get high. On October 31, 2016, Halloween night, I fatally overdosed in my bedroom at my grandparents’ house from a deadly combination of heroin, meth, and cocaine. My name is Hayden Graver. I was 17 years old.

“I was Hayden’s step grandfather. Mom and dad both have their own addictions. As it turned out, I was the active role in his life.” -Hayden’s grandfather said.

What comes to mind if you’re telling somebody about Hayden?

“Always happy go lucky, always up for an adventure,” his grandfather replied. “Well, he lived with us off and on throughout the years. Probably more so with us than not. But, officially he came to live with us in October of 2015. Everyday he’d come in and wish us good morning and when he left he’d always say I love you.”

And at what point did you learn that he was maybe also struggling with some addictions?

“It was also at that time,” his grandfather answered. “It was being reflected in his grades and then eventually he started to get in trouble. He ended up sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night unbeknownst to us. He was arrested for theft of jewelry. He was stealing the jewelry to sell it for money for drugs. And then he went into the CSTAR program.”

“With teens who with high school you’ll see several things. You’ll see some kids start acting out. They’ve always been a really good kid, they didn’t get in trouble, and all of a sudden they are doing stuff that’s causing problems,” Sally Gibson, VP of Addiction Services for Burrell Behavioral Health said. “I truly think trauma can be the root of a lot of things of mental health issues. It can also be the root of substance use. A lot of our kids will even start self-medicating with substances to try to cover that. They don’t know. But, depression, anxiety, trauma, they just want to feel good, they want to feel better, because they don’t feel well.”

“I think his problems and he told me more than once he was chasing that lack of a mother and father relationship that his friends had. I think he missed that and even though we were his grandparents and we assumed that roll that still wasn’t the same,” Hayden’s grandfather said.

“One of my coping skills when I get upset, whether that’s anger or whether that’s hurt, regardless, if it’s to have a drink, or to smoke a joint, or to do something to feel better, if that’s my coping skill then we never learn how to develop those emotions and how to develop those skills naturally,” Sally explained. “So, let’s say I use for 5 years. That problem probably is just growing and getting worse. I equate it to a physical wound. So, if I have a cut on my hand and I wash it, I put medicine on it, I get stitches if I need it, it’s going to heal up. But, what happens if I don’t treat it? It gets infected. And not only does it get infected, it gets bigger. Emotional health is the same way. If we acknowledge it and we get help and we heal it, I don’t forget it, but I’m stronger because of what I’ve learned from it and my skills have gotten better.”

“The story is it was Halloween, that night. Again we hugged, we told each other we loved each other and the next morning I found him. I couldn’t wake him up,” Hayden’s grandfather remembered. “I called 911, and they told me how to resuscitate and I did that until the paramedics arrived. It was one of the roughest days of my life. Changed it forever. In his system, they found meth, cocaine, but the one that they said really was instrumental in his death was heroin.’

“When I’m using my tolerance goes up,” Sally stated.  “So, if I’ve stopped using for a while, whether I’ve gone to treatment or I have just done it on my own, then my tolerance goes back down. So, If I go back out and I use again for the first time and I go to use the same amount I did when I quit, it’s an overdose waiting to happen.”

“This was not intentional.” Hayden’s grandfather said. “As I understand Heroin is quite addictive and once you take it you can be addicted to it and it doesn’t take several times. It just takes once. Anyone that does it can end up as Hayden did.”

“It’s kind of like looking at the world through the straw. When I’m depressed or using I just see this little whole in the straw. When I can get through that I can see the big picture again. So being able to work with someone, rely on friends, know what can get me through this short period of time.”

“It’s terrible to have your parents or grandparents come in and find you like that and deal with all the aftermath,” Hayden’s grandfather said. “Hayden became my purpose and overnight my purpose was gone. I think the message I would like to give is that it’s not worth it.”

Hayden Scott Graver
September 23, 1999-November 1, 2016

Whitney Mann