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Turning pain into purpose: Mother says she lost her son to his addiction

Posted at 1:24 PM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 13:24:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Jennifer Hartley is sharing her family's story and turning her pain into purpose after losing her son last month.

Hartley said her son, Tyler, had an addiction, one she believes ultimately killed him. However, she wants people to remember him for more than his struggles with substance use disorder.

"If he smiled at you, it was a gift," Hartley said. "When he was young, he was an all-star in baseball, basketball, travel leagues, all that."

Despite the happy childhood, Hartley believes family tragedy led Tyler to turn to drugs to cope.

"His three cousins, two of them are my nieces. One was murdered over heroin. One overdosed. One was an addict as well and she got endocarditis from using. All three of those passed away. My sister passed away to it," Hartley said.

Jennifer and her family

Hartley said watching her son and other family members go through the trials of addiction made her aware of some startling statistics when it comes drug use here in Indiana.

"Indiana is ranked 10th out of 50 states. We're 10th for overdose deaths, and that's sad," Hartley said.

However, Hartley doesn't need statistics to tell her there's a problem. She lives with the loss of her son and family members daily. While she tried her best to help Tyler, getting him into rehab programs, she thinks our local, state and federal leaders need to prioritize helping those in our community dealing with addiction.

"They need to create facilities that can take care of them for a year and then be at that facility for a year and get reintroduced back into society," Harley said.

RELATED | Indiana drug overdose statistics | Substance use disorder resources