Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

No Family Is Safe From This Epidemic

| Nov. 29, 2017

As an admiral I helped run the most powerful military on Earth, but I couldn't save my son from the scourge of opioid addiction.

The last photograph of my son Jonathan was taken at the end of a new-student barbecue on the campus green at the University of Denver. It was one of those bittersweet transitional moments. We were feeling the combination of apprehension and optimism that every parent feels when dropping a kid off at college for the first time, amplified by the fact that we were coming off a rocky 16 months with our son.

We had moved him into his dormitory room only that morning. I remember how sharp he looked in the outfit he selected, and his eagerness to start class and make new friends. We were happy, relieved, and, knowing what we thought he had overcome, proud. Earlier that day, at lunch, I asked Jonathan whether he thought he was ready for the coming school year. “Dad, I can handle it as long as I continue my recovery,” he said. “Everything flows from that.”

Only three days later, Jonathan was found unresponsive in his dormitory-room bed, one of several victims of a fentanyl-laden batch of heroin that had spread through the Denver area that week.

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For Academic Citation: Winnefeld, James.“No Family Is Safe From This Epidemic.” The Atlantic, November 29, 2017.

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