Mother shares grief of son’s OD death

PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY Lavin Schwan, mother of Joey, shares his story Monday. Joey died of a drug overdose in 2016.

A mother shared her story of grief after losing her son to the opioid epidemic Monday morning at Columbian High School.

Lavin Schwan along with her husband, Tom, told the story of their son, Joey, who died of a drug overdoes in November 2016.

“I was born into a family with addiction,” Lavin said.

Both her parents were alcoholics and brothers suffered from addictions.

Joey attended Old Fort High School and first took drugs at age 13 when Lavin caught him smoking cigarettes.

“I was mortified,” she said. “I told him he was born into a family with a genetic link to addiction.”

Lavin said Joey was a good student academically and athletically, having played basketball, soccer and participated in track.

Joey went on to attend Bowling Green State University wanting to pursue a degree in business.

During his time at BGSU, Lavin said he was pulled over and sent to jail for having drug paraphernalia in his car.

Because it was his first offense, Joey was given probation and had to submit to random drug testing. It was when Lavin discovered Joey tested positive for Adderall during one test that she knew there was a pattern forming.

“I knew he was drinking and smoking, but so were his buddies,” Lavin said. “I didn’t think too much about it at the time.”

At 19, Joey had his wisdom teeth removed and was given a 30-day prescription of Percocet.

Joey soon left BGSU to work with a friend in roofing. He then went to work with his uncles in Michigan who owned a home repair business.

One day Lavin said her brother called her to inform her Joey had been caught snorting something in a truck and they planned to fire him. Joey’s uncle talked to him and decided to give him a second chance.

Lavin and Tom eventually opened their own restaurant and invited Joey to work with them.

Lavin said Joey started showing up late or not at all and was constantly asking for money, even though he was paid every Friday.

“That was a red flag for us,” Lavin said.

It was after Lavin watched a video of Joey going through the employee tip drawer they decided it was time for Joey to go into a rehabilitation program.

They found a program in California and Joey agreed to go.

“The first time Joey called me at rehab he sounded so good,” Lavin said.

Joey stuck with it and came home. Tragedy struck when Joey’s sister found him dead in his apartment that weekend of a drug overdoes of heroin that was laced with Fentanyl.

Lavin said she finds comfort because he didn’t suffer, but at the same time Joey didn’t want to die and they didn’t want him to die, she said.

Lavin said the most important thing to note is just don’t start.

“The moment you say you can handle it is when you already lost,” Lavin said. “If you take anything away from this presentation, know that every one of you are valued. Every one of you is loved. Every one of you matter. If something happened to you there will be family who will be devastated.”