A Mother's Journey

March 15, 2016

We recently found this posted where another facility (Narconon Ojai) is using Zach's Story to help others.....

Story of Young Man’s Addiction Reveals Where Teens Get Drugs

pillsZach Crotty lived in Buffalo, New York with his family. He started using marijuana and pills in middle school and he died of an overdose before he was twenty. His parents documented his years spent addicted and his efforts to recover, using his own words and their observations. There are many such stories but what this particular story provides is insight into where teens may start getting their drugs.
Zach doesn’t mention where he got the marijuana he started with at age 14, just that he asked a friend to share it with him. But he does reveal where he got his first pills.
Morphine: A friend stole it from her aunt. Given to Zach for free.
OxyContin (oxycodone): Another friend stole it from her father. Given to Zach for free.
Lortab (hydrocodone): Yet another friend stole these pills from her father.
He got these daily for free for awhile. He then progressed to cocaine at 15.
Cocaine: The girl who stole the OxyContin gave him a gram.
When he was 16, his drug use escalated. He was heavily abusing pills now, consuming so many that he could no longer get them for free. He found his own connections for drugs, starting with OxyContin and then heroin.
Heroin: His connection for OxyContin gave him two bags of heroin to try.
At 17, he tried crack cocaine. He was smoking it for the first time on the street in West Buffalo when a SWAT team rolled in to arrest someone nearby.
By the time Zach was a high school senior, he was the one providing pills to other students at his school. He was arrested outside the school with two-and-a-half morphine pills in his pocket.

As He Became Addicted, His Life Began to Slide

Of course Zach’s behavior and schoolwork suffered greatly. He grew distant from his parents. After the arrest, he was required to see a counselor on a regular schedule. He said that he was always late for class because he was in the bathroom crushing a pill. He consistently left school at lunch so he could smoke, not specifying if he meant cigarettes or marijuana. When he was high, he also often fell asleep during class. He never attended any school functions or after-school activities, something he later regretted.
The meetings with the counselor went nowhere and Zach was referred to a drug rehab program. He told the counselor he was abusing Lortabs, as many as 10 a day, plus codeine and OxyContin. This was all before he graduated from high school.
The same year, he wrote a poem about his life and addiction. In part, it says:
“If you’re on drugs – QUIT
in memory of me
live your life drug free
the way it was meant to be
I knew my destiny
it was to go through s**t
learn from it
and help others get through it
not quite a role model
more of an example.”

Zach Begins Treatment with Addiction Doctor

After he left the counselor, his parents found an addiction doctor to treat him. Zach described his drug use at that time:
Morphine 100 mg until he lost his source, followed by OxyContin, followed by Lortab and OxyContin every day, as many as 10 per day. Also heroin, a bag or two snorted every day. Some methadone and Suboxone.
Both methadone and Suboxone are used in addiction treatment programs and are sometimes sold by the people in treatment so they can get the drugs they really want.
He’d get his two bags of heroin in exchange for $20 and providing a ride to an unidentified girl. His parents knew about the pills but not about the heroin and Zach didn’t want them to know about it.
He wrote another poem about this time.
“Overdosing in my sleep
I’ve come to expect it.
But also expect that
I’ll be resurrected.”
Was he talking about being revived with naloxone, the drug that reverses opioid overdoses? We have no way of knowing.
While he was in treatment, he was regularly tested for drug abuse. He tested positive for Xanax, morphine, Lortab, fentanyl, and Adderall, the drug prescribed for study attention problems and often abused by those trying to catch up on their study assignments.
Zach entered in-patient rehab but left before completing the program He then started out-patient treatment. He struggled to stay clean, succeeding at times but then failing. In the middle of the night one time, he made a list of all the drugs he had taken that day.
Percocet (oxycodone) – 15 mg
Lortab (hydrocodone) – 30 mg
Morphine – 15mg
Clonopin (clonazepan) 1 mg
Xanax (alpralozam) 1 mg
Ecstasy – 2 pills
Ambien (an addictive sleep aid) – 12.5 mg.
Dexymothipneridate (another drug prescribed for problems focusing on study) – 5 mg.

Efforts at Recovery and Finally, Overdose

Zach made many attempts at recovery and his parents searched for the best way to help him. In the end, it was an overdose of methadone accompanied by Xanax and a prescribed antidepressant that killed him. It’s easy to OD on methadone because it stays in the body such a long time. If a person takes an additional dose before the body can clear the earlier dose, he can accumulate too much methadone in his body which can then slow his breathing to the point of death. It was 2009. He was only 19 years old.
Zach’s parents compiled this report from his writings, songs and counseling reports in an effort to spare other parents this pain. It’s important to note that Zach’s parents did not know he was abusing drugs until the arrest outside his school. Teens become very secretive when they start using drugs. When he was arrested, his parents began to keep a closer eye on him but, as his mother said, “We really didn’t understand drugs and addiction. I wanted to trust him.”
The complete story about Zach can be read here: http://zacharycrottystory.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_7.html.

Learning from Zach’s Story

What can we learn from this young man’s story? We learn that family prescriptions are being stolen and that some young people start their drug problems and eventual addictions this way. It’s vital that pills be locked up when they are not being accessed by the patient. Yes, it’s inconvenient but it could save a person’s life.
It’s also vital to get rid of pills that are no longer needed. Many police stations and some drugstores have locked disposal boxes. Call your local police department and ask.
To help families avoid this same kind of tragedy, Narconon created the booklet 14 Rules You Must Never Break When Dealing with Addiction. That booklet is available for free download here: www.narcononojaijournal.org/14-rules-for-dealing-with-addiction/.
If you have any questions about how to deal with the addiction of a loved one, call Narconon at 1-877- 936-7435. We can help.

    About Sue Birkenshaw
Sue Birkenshaw has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years.

March 17, 2015

Every month that we work on and post a new Chapter to my son's blog Zach's Story zacharycrottystory.BlogSpot.com it brings back so many memories. Its now 5 years and 4 1/2 months (10/26/09) that Zach Crotty has been gone from us. I miss him so much! Sometimes I still think he will walk around the corner of the great room and tell us "I'm home" or get his phone call with some excuse as to why he's not home yet. His white and green hoodie is still hanging up in his closet. ...Sometimes I take it and wrap it around me like I was getting a big hug from him. As parent's that have lost our children we try hard to hold on to memories. I do feel very fortunate that my son wrote his thoughts down in journals. I now know what he was feeling at the time even though he didn't share those thoughts with us. Zach's anxiety led him to experiment with drugs that he wasn't prescribed. Zach died from an OD of Methadone given to him by a 40 year old woman.
I hope by us sharing
Zach's Story that it will help someone else to understand the feelings of a young person that had the disease of substance abuse and anxiety.
I Love you Zach, forever 19. heart emoticon

"Not quite  a role model. More of an example. So learn from me." Zach Crotty

10 Inspiring Stories Of People Who Turned Tragedy Into Triumph

Heather Ramsey
Everyone responds to tragedy differently. Some give up, some curse God, and some amaze us with their resilience. Not everyone is tested. But for those who are, the following people are models on how to turn disaster into success.  
4.Mark and Suzanne Crotty
Photo credit: Time Warner Cable News
In 2009, 19-year-old Zach Crotty died of an accidental drug overdose in his picture-postcard hometown of Colden, New York. Afterward, his parents, Mark and Suzanne, discovered his journals, detailing his addiction to illegal drugs and prescription painkillers as well as his regret that he wasn’t living the kind of life he’d wanted. He’d been in and out of rehab and had even seen a psychiatrist who prescribed more drugs for this already drug-addicted young man. Prophetically, Zach often wrote that he hoped his journals would save the lives of others, something he couldn’t seem to do for himself.
As a way to help other individuals and families dealing with addiction, the Crottys decided to open up about Zach’s life. It wasn’t easy for them emotionally, but they published his writings on a blog and as a book. “It won’t bring Zach back, but I’ll keep telling Zach’s story, so other people can share it,” said Suzanne Crotty. “Even if we help just one person, we’ve made a difference.”
But the Crottys didn’t stop there. Working with local politicians, they helped to get the I-STOP Act passed in New York. As of March 2015, all New York practitioners (except veterinarians) must issue all prescriptions in electronic format. New York practitioners are already required to consult an online registry of prescription histories for patients before prescribing certain controlled substances. The Crottys hope this law will reduce doctor shopping among addicts, who often lie about their prescriptions to get more drugs. 
November 19, 2014 
We received this nice letter after speaking at the Springville High School. 
October 29. 2014
Mark Doc Crotty and I just returned from telling Zach's Story, (our son Zach Crotty story) @ Springville Griffith High School. Zach graduated from SGI in 2008. This is Red Ribbon Week. Project Hope had an assembly for the High School Students. Avi Israel, Colleen McQueen Babcock, Michelle from the DEA, Kathryn from Horizon all gave valuable information to the students about drugs and most importantly opioid drug use. A special thank you to Philip Luzio for the photography work. SGI Principal Mr. Vanderlip, the students, teachers and counselors @SGI. Thank you for helping us share Zach's Story to raise the awareness of the disease of addiction and possibly saving another family from losing a child and living through what we are.
— with Zach's Story and Zach Crotty.

July 5, 2014
I just watched a video that I think is worth sharing.  Please watch it.  Educate your child and yourself.  Have the conversation about drugs before it is to late.  You may think it can't happen to you.....It CAN happen to you. 
Photo: Parent360Rx program unveils new video. Please take the time to watch!

"It was easy to start and it hurt to stop"

May 28, 2014
Zach's Garden

May 27, 2014
Went to unplug my cell phone from the charger.  The screen was lit up with the time 11:11 PM at 7:38AM!  It was a sign from Zach.  I had asked him to send me a sign.  And he did!! I love when that happens.  It makes me smile.  How else could my phone show the time (Zach's numbers 11:11) at & 7:38AM??   I should have taken a picture of it before it shut off! Oh well I knew it happened. 
I was talking about a time when my Uncle send this picture something called a gigapixel?  check this out...
http://www.gigapixel.com/image/gigapan-canucks-g7.html   This was in 2011 Stanley Cup Game 7. 
Click on the link above.  Double Click on an area of the picture and it gets closer and closer. I was doing that and found a young man that looked just like Zach only with longer hair.  See him in the middle of the screen to the right of the guy with the blue hat and sunglasses? Doesn't he look like Zach?
Mother's Day May 11th (an 11 was Zach's number), 2014
Today is a hard day.  Missing Zach and thinking about all of the past Mother's Day's.  I came across some of the cards Zach had given me.  A beautiful necklace that has MOM in the center of a heart.  I also found something Zach had written to me while he was in rehab at Renaissance House.  I am thankful that he was able to express himself and write it down.  I want to share this today....I miss Zach so much!! 

February 24, 2014
Just heard a song that continues to stay in my head...

Dani and Lizzy - Dancing in the sky

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January 29, 2014
Over the last week I've been going through old CD's that I had saved pictures on.  I hadn't seen these pictures for several years.  It was great to see all of the fun times we had.  Holiday's, family and places we visited.  Some pictures of people that had passed away...  my daughters' grandmother, Mille and my daughter Nichole's father-in-law Ed.  And many pictures of young Zach!  To anyone out there that reads this it is so important to take pictures of all your life!  You never know when they will be your memories.  Here are a few ....

January 25, 2014

Last Wednesday, after 4 years and almost 3 months, I finally began going through Zach's room and changing it around.  I text one of  Zach's friends and asked if she would like to help.  She replied and came right over with her 3 year old daughter.  I wouldn't have been able to do it if she hadn't been with me.  She knew Zach well and it helped to reminisce about the many things we found in his room.  She took classes with Zach and even told me about his artwork.  Zach never wanted to talk about what he had done.  I even found an invitation from the Art teacher saying that some of Zach's work would be in an exhibit and we were invited to see it.  Zach never showed us the invitation. 
 It took us all day to go through his things.  We even sat and separated out working pens, pencils, markers and crayons in a huge drawer that Zach had collected.  Every school year Zach had to have new pencils, pens, markers and colored pencils.  So we had a lot to go through.  In the end I saved most everything.  Very little got thrown away.  I put his papers and things in several boxes for another time. I plan to put some of Zach's artwork in frames and put it up on his wall.  It will always be Zach's room! 
 The bed got moved.  The dresser and chest of drawers all are in a new place.  It was the only way I could handle the changes.  We will paint the walls soon.  The only thing I didn't do was take down his posters that take up a whole wall.  I will, but it is too much for me now.  The posters are of Rappers and snowboarders things that Zach loved.  Zach loved his music and snowboarding.
Two months ago I took Zach's t-shirts to a lady that makes quilts.   I was really adamant that I wanted to keep the shirts whole and not cut them up.  She had quite a job to do. But, in the end she did exactly as I had asked. She used 11 of his shirts and made a beautiful quilt.
Here is a picture of it (not the best picture but it is huge). I plan to hang it up on the wall behind his bed.  It really feels good to have this wonderful memory quilt.
December 8, 2013 Worldwide Candle Lighting REMEMBRANCE

Zach's candle...for Zach and all the other children....

forever loved...forever remembered

December 7, 2013

Gifts and Donations can be dropped off  at the following locations (additional locations will be added).

Another location has been added:

Pat Leary Motor Cars
2028 Union Rd.
West Seneca
(corner of Union & Clinton)
Mon-Fri 9-8
Sat 9-4
Doc's Refinishing Service Inc.                        Colden Town Hall
8064 State Rd (RTE 240), Colden                   8812 State Rd, Colden
Drop off  Mon-Fri 8-4                                    Mon-Fri 9-4:30
Bread of Life Outreach
Gabriel's Closet 
8745 Supervisor Ave.
Colden, New York 14033
Tues and Wed.  10 -2 pm
Thursdays   3 - 6
                               Saturdays  10 - 12                             

December 1, 2013 
I've been thinking a lot about Zach and how excited he got when it began to snow.  One of his birthday presents in October was his seasons pass for snowboarding @ Kissing Bridge the local ski area about 8 miles from our house.  One year, I won a snowboard in a drawing from the local ski shop.  Of course, I gave it to Zach.  He went down and picked out his "board".  He also needed new boots and bindings.  He was so happy!  If there was something that Zach enjoyed it was the winter and snowboarding!!  When he was old enough to work at KB he started out in the boot rental.  I don't think he was too excited about the job but from then on each year he worked in different areas working up to lift attendant at KB which got him a "free" seasons pass. Those were good memories to see him happy! 
Here is a picture I came across recently.....Zach and his nephew Connor about 8 years ago ...

Zach had just put new decals on his board before he died.  He was getting ready for the upcoming season.... his board and boots are still in his room.

I just read this today....

Reflections in the light; Daily Thoughts and Affirmations by Shakti Gawain


We are in charge of our own journey

When someone dies, they are unconsciously choosing to leave this physical body.  On the physical plane, it may appear that they are victims of disaster or deadly disease, but spiritually, they are in charge of their own journey.  Their spirit knows what it is doing even if the body denies it.  When you start to believe this, you will also feel it telepathically and it will ease the pain of your loss.  It is possible to grieve while knowing that the higher self of your loved has chosen this path at this time, just as you also will choose your path and your time.


I am

in charge of my own



I woke up before 4 AM this morning crying.  Today is Four years that Zach has been gone from our lives.  Our lives have changed.  We are no longer the people we were.  Our family is so sad.  We miss Zach so much.  I have been reliving the last 24 hours of Zach's life since I woke up.  Thinking about all of the people that were involved. How could we have done things differently?  Would he still be here today? Why did he take the methadone?  Why didn't he take the Suboxone he was prescribed?  Why was he given 90 1mg Xanax by a psychiatrist only 4 days before he died.  The psychiatrist knew that he was actively being treated for an opiate addiction with Suboxone?  Why would an educated Dr. prescribe drugs know to be a lethal combination? The Methadone overdose combined with the (Rx drugs prescribed by the psychiatrist) Xanax and Remeron and Keppra caused his death!  Why did the girl that was with Zach that day throw up after taking the methadone and Xanax?  Why didn't Zach?  What if he were home that Sunday night.  Would he be here today?  Would I have known what to do when he OD'd? I don't think so.  I think he may have OD'd here at the house before and I just thought it was the flu (as he told me) or sleeping really soundly.  Why were we so naïve?  We didn't want to believe that it can happen at our house.  Not our house!  We aren't "those kind of people".   What kind of parent's were we to not protect our son under "our watch" as my husband says?  He was 19 (just turned) and he wanted to "make his own mistakes" but how could I as his mother let him make mistakes?  I knew best.  Or so I thought.  Maybe I was too over protective.  Maybe I tried to control too much of his life.  I wanted to protect him from things that could harm him.  I didn't understand addiction to drugs.  I didn't understand how these drugs prescribed by Dr's would come to control his life.  Why did he feel the need to take these drugs?  He made that choice in the beginning when he was only about 14 years old getting these drugs from "friends".  Zach became addicted to someone's overprescribed drugs. Then the drugs controlled him.  He needed them and needed more of them as time went on.  Now because of drugs my son is no longer with us.  Drugs killed my son!  Drugs killed Zach!! 
It's ironic that today, October 26th, is National Prescription  Drug Take Back Day.  Use today to rid your house of unused drugs.  (Check out DEA.gov to find a location).  Lock up the drugs you still have in your house.  You could save a life by keeping them out of the wrong hands!

Recently I asked Zach to give me a "sign" that he was with me.  Funny thing has been happening since yesterday.  About 5 years ago Zach gave me a gold bracelet that I always wear.   When I let Brooklyn, our English Springer Spaniel, out yesterday morning she hit the bracelet and it fell off.  It wasn't broken so I put it back on.  Several times during the day it continued to come off.  One time I was in my bedroom and looked down on the carpet and there it was.  Later, I was in the computer room and looked down and there it was on the floor.  I checked it over again and again.  There was nothing wrong that would make it fall off.  The clasp works fine.  Again today I was at the store by my shopping cart and looked down and at my feet there was the gold bracelet. Always right where I was standing. I'm so thankful that I didn't loose it. I believe that it was as Zach's way of  getting my attention again and again letting me know he was with me.  :)   He also likes to make my sunroof pop up when I didn't even open it.  That has happen on several occasions.  I know it's Zach!
I was thinking about all the happy times Zach had at his birthday parties.  He would have birthday parties every year with all of his friends.  Burger King, Lazertron, Go-Cart racing, Roller skating, and even home parties where he and his friends went down to the creek and swam (even in October).  Ice cream cakes were definitely his favorite!  He couldn't wait to open his gifts.
When he was a teenager the parties were family get-togethers.  Still had the ice cream cakes for him though. Great memories! 

Happy 23rd Birthday in Heaven
We miss you so much!! 


Miss you so much!
Forever Loved....Forever Remembered
Until we meet again...May God hold you in the palm of his hand

September 21, 2013

We attended a photo shoot at Buffalo State College with other families that have been touched by painkiller addiction and abuse.  It was sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of WNY facilitating as a community-wide public awareness and education campaign. The photo is to become part of a public art project, and will be used at a press event being held on Wednesday, October 9th.

September 9, 2013

We had volunteered at a DEA drug Drop in Springville.  I was talking to an officer from the Sheriff's Department.  I asked about the couple from Springville that Zach stayed with when we had kicked him out for a short while.  I was told that the girl had died from an overdose almost exactly one year after Zach.  She had a young son.  Now he doesn't have a mother. 

September 8, 2013

Zach was born on October 1st. I think back to his 19th birthday (after Zach left Renaissance House) we were planning to go to Olive Garden for his birthday dinner that night after I got out of work.  I talked to Zach and he said "Mom can't we just stay home and order a pizza"? I said "No, it's your birthday and I want to take you out". He said, " I am so tired".  We ended up going to a restaurant in East Aurora.  Zach was high.  I didn't find out until later that a "friend" had called and said  "she would get him anything (drugs) he wanted for his birthday. What a friend!!  He was so "up".  Talkative and complimenting how nice the waitress was.  Suggesting we give her a big tip.  This was not our typical Zach although it was nice to have him as talkative as he was.   
We thought it was the Suboxone. 

September 7, 2013

I often think about all the young kids that are in trouble with drugs.  It takes us parents quite awhile to believe that it is really happening at "our" own house.  We all seem to think we can handle it ourselves with discipline and it will just stop.  Then we begin to learn about what the opiates can do to our children's brains.  The longer they use these drugs the more hold the drug has on them.  I just read something that I wanted to share from an article from CTVnews:

Addiction to heroin and other opioids is a long-term, chronic disease that can't simply be fixed with a few weeks or months on methadone, a group of British Columbia-based researchers argue in a newly released paper.

"This is a chronic disease, something that is going to have to be fought day by day over a long period -- potentially a lifetime," Nosyk said in an interview Tuesday.

"That's difficult for people to accept. I still think there's a demand that they want this problem dealt with quickly."

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/health-headlines/don-t-treat-heroin-and-opioid-addiction-as-short-term-conditions-paper-1.1400569#ixzz2eCqUf100

We too thought that Zach could detox and would be able to "get it out of his system" and go on to live a drug free life.  We were so naïve 6 years ago.  This is another reason we want to share some of the stories we have.  Hoping to help someone else to see the need for treatment and counseling instead of thinking the problem will just go away.

September 1, 2013

It's almost 4 years now that Zach has been gone.  Lately, I have been giving a lot of thought  to Zach's drug and addiction treatment.  Zach was an easy going young man.  He hardly ever raised his voice. He didn't use swear words (at least around us).  Zach wasn't a child that needed a lot of discipline.  He was really a fun loving child.  I can't even remember a time that we put him in "time-out".  He loved his games.  He loved his music. When we first heard that he was using drugs we were in disbelief.  That just didn't make sense.  But, then he had been going through changes.  He didn't want to do the family things we planned. He didn't want to go on vacations to Florida.  He didn't want to visit his sister in Germany.  He didn't want to be with the family on holiday's.  Zach didn't like to eat foods like other kids did. He was a very picky eater.  Even his friends thought so. 

Was inpatient treatment the answer for Zach? Tough Love?  I really am unsure now that we did the right things.  Now that I look back making Zach move out wasn't right for him (or us either).  We should have worked through the issues and taken care of things on our own instead of sending him off to live with his "friends" (drug dealers).  Is sending your child to an inpatient facility the answer? I thought they knew what to do for him.  But, really they didn't know Zach.  He said he didn't belong there and maybe he was right.  Did he need strict discipline and routine?  It wasn't how we raised him or his sisters.  His sisters are both married and both have 3 children .  I brought my kids up to think on their own and be independent.  Why would I raise Zach any differently? Maybe the 10 & 13 years between Zach and his sisters was why there would be difference.  The girls didn't have cell phones and the internet when they were teenagers.  The times had really changed. Maybe because he was a boy things should have been different??  We thought it was just a "teenage" thing that Zach would outgrow.  But, the drugs were started at a time so early (age 14) that his brain wasn't fully developed.  They say it isn't developed until age 25 . According to David Sheff's article  "Children start using drugs precisely at the time that it’s most dangerous for them; from the time they are twelve until they reach 25, their brains are developing more than at any time other than at birth to age two. Research shows that the younger they are when they begin using, the higher the chance they’ll become addicted."

I'll finish this for now and continue later.  I just needed to share this.

August 19, 2013 
I stopped by the cemetery this afternoon. I stop by often.  I know Zach isn't there.  I just wanted to make sure the flowers were watered. How could this be real? Zach should be working or off hanging out with friends. I talk to Zach. I always ask Zach for guidance and a sign that I'm on the right path.  I miss him so much!

Today someone left a lighter?  You never know what someone will leave for Zach. Sometimes a flower, a cigarette, pictures, notes, toys, statues, a penny...
Zach's Dad, sister Nikki, and niece's Erin (13) and Cierra (7) and I worked at the Erie County Fair yesterday volunteering at the Channel 2 booth for Kids Escaping Drugs.  This was the 4th time we volunteered there.  People donate $1 and spin a prize wheel.  Everyone knows the money goes to a good cause.