Washington State resident Kyle Brinton is one of the latest victims of the the nation’s growing heroin problem.
Brinton, 31, died Saturday from a heroin overdose, after years of addiction.
Just three days later, his loved ones gathered in Olympia, Wash., to remember him and to ask for help in ending the shame that surrounds addiction.
“He didn’t want to die. He was so excited to be a dad,” his fiancée, Brittany Johnson, said.
Johnson discovered Brinton’s body in their home Saturday evening.
“What pregnant mom wants to walk in and find their baby’s dad dead on the floor? It’s just something that you’re never going to be able to get over,” she said.
Johnson is expecting Brinton’s child in April. The two were also raising her 4-year old son.
According to Sgt Jamie Newcomb, of the Lacey Police Department, Brinton smoked heroin, overdosed, and then died.
Toxicology tests are being done to determine whether the heroin that killed Brinton might have been laced with fentanyl or carfentanyl, which are even more lethal than heroin.
Brinton’s parents said their son struggled with his addiction for a decade, but had been sober the past two years, until he recently ran into a friend who drew him back into heroin.
“This is heartbreaking to watch this happening,” Brinton’s mother, Shannie Jenkins, said before the vigil Tuesday evening in memory of her son.
“It’s horrible, horrible, and now we bury our son. It’s the biggest fear every parent would have, and I don’t want to do it,” Jenkins said.
Brinton’s father, Bruce Brinton, called heroin “a growing epidemic, and it’s affecting an entire generation. I don’t feel that there is enough being done.”
Brinton’s parents believe their son might be alive today if more was being done – locally and nationwide --- to help the growing number of addicts.
His father sent a letter to lawmakers asking for an increase in the availability of Vivitrol – a time-released drug that can be implanted into addicts to help with sobriety.
“It’s a lifelong disease,” Bruce Brinton said. “You don’t get over it like a cold. It’s there for the rest of your life.”
Brinton’s loved ones also want families to shrug off the shame surrounding heroin addiction.
“Quit being ashamed,” Jenkins said. “That’s the worst thing. Everyone is so ashamed. My son was so ashamed of it, and parents are ashamed.”
Addiction doesn’t just impact “that person down on the street, that homeless person. It’s everybody,” she said.