%22You never expect that you're going to lose a child. It's all out of order.

Judy’s son Steve was a loving son, fiancé, brother, uncle, cousin, nephew, and friend. Steve, a gifted musician, also excelled in sports. He earned Dean’s List status in college, and a degree in economics that led to a successful career as a financial advisor. Steve suffered a back injury as an adult that left him with severe constant pain that doctors were unable to successfully treat. He became depressed due to the impact of the pain on his way of life. He was prescribed antidepressants which helped, but did not eliminate his symptoms. Steve was then given a prescription for opioids.

Steve was thrilled that a medication finally seemed to be working, but he quickly became addicted to the prescription opioids. Within three years, he was seeking out multiple doctors to fill new prescriptions. Steve eventually acknowledged his addiction and tried hard to get well. He enrolled in rehabilitation and treatment programs, but the grip of his addiction had taken an incredibly strong hold. Following completion of a 28-day addiction treatment program, Steve relapsed and died of an overdose at the age of 43.

After the loss of her son, Judy found a note he had written about his experience with prescription opioids: “At first they were a lifeline. Now they are a noose around my neck.” Since his passing, Judy founded the Steve Rummler Hope NetworkExternal to raise awareness of the dilemma of chronic pain and the disease of addiction, and to improve the associated care process.

Learn more about opioid misuse and overdose, data, and prevention resources at CDC’s Opioid Overdose website.

Learn more about opioid data and resources.