The evening before their mother found them unresponsive, Nick, 19, and Jack, 18, had attended local high school graduation parties. They had returned home at 12:30 a.m. and checked in with their mother who was waiting for them. That was the last time she talked to them.
Becky Savage, from northern Indiana, lost both Nick and Jack, two of her four sons, to an opioid overdose the next day on June 14, 2015. “Your mind is not really meant to process something that extreme,” Savage told CNN.
The mother of four was picking up laundry from her younger son Jack’s room when she realized he wasn’t waking up. She called 911 and shouted for Nick to come up, but “he never came.” The night before, Nick had fallen asleep with some friends in the basement.
LEGACY OF LOVE: I sat down one-on-one with @BeckySavys to see how she’s remembering her sons three years after accidentally overdosing on opioid pills.
— Caroline Torie (@CarolineTorieTV) June 22, 2018
The first responders tried to resuscitate Jack, and then one of them went to the basement. “I had no idea at that point what they were doing in our basement. And then I remember one of them coming up and asking for a coroner. That’s the last thing that I remember that day,” said Savage.
Jack and Nick had accidentally overdosed on hydrocodone and alcohol. Someone had given out the prescription pills and supplied alcohol at a graduation party.
For a year, Savage, her husband, and her two younger sons didn’t talk publicly about what happened with Jack and Nick that night—until she was invited to talk about underage drinking at a local event.
“I had never spoken publicly before, and I was assured there would be maybe between 15 and 20 people there. So, I agreed to do it, and over 200 people showed up. It was just overwhelming,” she said.
Thank you to Becky Savage and the 525 Foundation for speaking to the Culver Academies student body and staff today. It was an amazing and inspirational presentation. You are changing lives through education and awareness. @CulverAcademies @BeckySavys @525Foundation @LuccheseSam pic.twitter.com/2vHzB3anaQ
— Mary Lucchese (@MaryLucchese) February 20, 2019
That event helped Savage realize the impact that Jack and Nick’s story could have on others. The family started the 525 Foundation, named after the two boys’ hockey uniform numbers—Jack’s 5 and Nick’s 25.
The Twitter page for the 525 Foundation describes it as an organization “dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of alcohol and prescription drug abuse.”
Savage has now talked to over 23,000 students and she has also testified before a Congressional committee working to address the opioid crisis.
— Ibrahim Samra WNDU (@ISamraWNDU) April 25, 2019
The Foundation set up an information table at a hockey game on March 1 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in Indiana. The program was called Drop 2 Stop “pill drop” and fans were encouraged to drop off expired or unnecessary pills, reported UND News.
The number 2 in Drop 2 Stop represents the two lives the Savage family lost. The first 100 fans who dropped off pills received a 525 Foundation T-shirt featuring a Notre Dame hockey logo.
— 525 Foundation (@525Foundation) February 25, 2019
“Any time we can get our message in front of new faces, it’s a win. We view events like this as an opportunity to use our story to educate more people about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse. When you can get the message in front of people, you have the potential to save a life. It’s especially meaningful to have Notre Dame hockey help spread our message. Nick and Jack both loved this sport so much,” Savage told UND News.
— David Ade (@DavidAdeDC) February 8, 2018
Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States
Deaths due to drug overdose are a major public health issue in the country, with 70,237 drug overdose deaths reported in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between 1999 and 2016, 8,986 children and adolescents died from prescription and illicit opioid poisonings, according to research published on JAMA network.
Of the total number that died, 6,567 (73.1%) were male, 7,921 (88.1%) were among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, and 605 (6.7%) were among children aged 0 to 4 years.