18-year-old Brayden Travis overdosed on heroin and Xanax. His mother Kelly Smith-Miller is sharing a photo of him after the fact to prevent teenagers from using drugs. (Photo: Kelly Smith-Miller/Facebook.)
One mother whose son overdosed on drugs has made the tragic event a teachable moment by sharing on social media a now-viral photo of her hospitalized child to prevent teens from following in his footsteps.
Kelly Smith-Miller of Arnold, Missouri recently took to Facebook to post her a photo of her 18-year-old son Brayden Travis lying unconscious in a hospital bed after his overdose, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“My son is an addict and has struggled with drugs since he was 15 years old,” wrote Smith-Miller on March 12. “My son’s first choice of drug was marijuana, which in time led to other drugs. The ultimate dead end road drug for my son was heroin, as is for a lot of teens/adults. He used last Wednesday at some point in the night and overdosed from a very deadly cocktail of heroin & Xanax. Heroin alone will kill you, as well as Xanax. He laid for at least 7 hours or longer before he received medical attention due to no one calling 911, possibly in fear of suspected consequences. Medical personnel believe my son should have been dead long before he was able to get the medical attention he needed, but for some unknown reason he has stabilized.”
She added, “I share this with each of you in hopes that you won’t feel pity or be offended, but rather share and get these pictures in front of your teenagers. Don’t be scared to share the horrific outcome of what most likely will happen when using heroin! It’s not the only drug that will kill you either…if my son’s story and picture can save one life or contribute to the education and awareness of drug abuse, then he and I are very happy!” She further explained that Brayden had lung and kidney failure, severe brain damage, and doctors had warned her that he likely wouldn’t live through the night. If he did wake up, they said, he would remain in a vegetative state.
Smith-Miller’s emotional post was shared more than 339,000 thousand times with commenters airing their own experiences with medical miracles, particularly other mothers whose children had struggled with addiction.
Brayden Travis, who is currently hospitalized after overdosing on heroin and Xanax. His mother Kelly Smith-Miller is sharing her story online to prevent teen drug abuse. (Photo: Smith-Miller/Facebook.)
Five days later, Brayden’s condition had stabilized and his mother updated her Facebook followers by writing, “Today is a turning point for my son. Still a long journey ahead, but I’m well prepared to travel it! Brayden will be moved out of ICU and moving into intermediate care. He has been able to breathe on his own for 24 hours and his heart rate, oxygen, and blood pressure is stable. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support! It truly means the world to me!” Yahoo Parenting could not reach Smith-Miller or Todd Travis for comment.
Heroin may seem like an “outdated” drug of choice for teenagers today but the morphine-based drug has gained recent popularity particularly among suburban teenagers, possibly due to the fact that it’s so affordable. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 169,000 people between the ages of 12 or older have used heroin for the first time within the past year. What’s more, between 1999 and 2009, the number of teens seeking treatment for addiction to the drug rose about 80 percent. “Heroin is not just an adult drug — many kids have access to it too,” Tamara Ward, press officer at SAMHSA, tells Yahoo Parenting.
And Xanax, a common anti-anxiety drug has been abused by 1 in 11 high school seniors, according to a report by the non-profit organization Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
The Internet is a powerful influencer when it comes to teenage behavior. Studies have shown that social media can affect a teen’s self esteem, sexual behavior, and drug and alcohol use. For example, recent research conducted at Columbia University found that kids who use social media are three times more likely to drink alcohol and twice as likely to smoke pot than those who refrain from the sites.
However, since kids spend so much time on social media, it’s also a powerful tool to enact change. “How this mother is showing her concern online is a great way to spread awareness,” says Ward.