Nicholas Alan Kruczek
Nick was my first born child. He was extremely funny, fun loving, had a big contagious smile, and he either called or sent me a text every day telling me he loved me.
Nick was also an extremely talented hockey player. He entered high school coming off the #6 team in the nation. As a freshman, he was the starting center on the Varsity Ice Hockey team. We later found out that this was where our nightmare began.
In the locker room just before his first game, an upper classman tossed Nick a little white pill to help him relax. He must have liked the way it made him feel because he later told us that he never played a game sober again. Nick was a 15 year old boy with his whole life ahead of him when his addiction began.
Nick went on and graduated from high school, and then attended Southern Connecticut State University; he made the hockey team there too. During this time, his addiction became noticeable and began to rear its ugly head. Nick came to us and revealed he was addicted to opiates and needed to go to a treatment center.
We made some calls, drove him to Rushford for treatment, only to be turned away because no beds were available. Even if a bed was open, the center didn't accept our insurance. How could this be? We had good insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of CT. They turned away my beautiful son, who was sick and seeking help.
So we went home, made some more phone calls and ultimately had to put our child on a plane to go to a treatment facility in Florida. He celebrated his 20th birthday there. A week later, Nick was transferred to a rehabilitation facility. Our insurance didn't pay for this - we had to pay out of pocket and it was quite costly. But, I thought Nick would go to rehab, make a new life in Florida where he was away from everything bad, and all would be better again. I knew so little.
Nick was in Florida for about nine months. We had to fly him home every month to go to court due to a misdemeanor charge that had been hanging over his head. Every month it got postponed, and back he went. Nick did have a few slip ups in Florida, which meant more money from us and Nick starting over again.
In June 2013, the court decided to put Nick on probation, which meant that he could not leave the state of Connecticut. This also meant that he could not go back to his treatment program in Florida. Had it been a felony though, Nick would have been able to go back - crazy!
Back at home, Nick got a job, enrolled in a few classes back at his university, and got an apartment. A couple of months later, I didn't get my daily phone call or text and I knew something was very wrong. I called the hospital to see if Nick was there. He wasn't. I found myself pleading with God that he was in jail because the only other option could not be happening. I went to his apartment and that's when I found Nick. He had lost his battle with addiction.
11 days before his 21st birthday.
I can't re-think what we didn't know. But, I can warn kids and parents now. Part of the problem was that we just didn't know enough. We didn’t know to warn Nick to stay away from oxycontin because of the deadly path it can take to heroin.
I was privileged to be Nick's mom for 20 years. And I got to hear " I love you, Mom" every single day.