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Opioid crisis: Childhood friends die on same day, half a mile apart

Lawrenceville, Georgia (CNN)Twenty minutes is all it took to kill 19-year-old Dustin Manning.

His devastated parents, Greg and Lisa Manning, stated the toxicology report found he had obtained a poisonous mix of heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid so powerful it’s often fatal.
“The quantity of fentanyl in his body has been the equivalent to three grains of salt. That’s all it took to kill a 180-pound man,” explained Greg Manning.
    Dustin died on Friday, May 26, in Lawrenceville, a suburb on the outskirts of Atlanta.
    At 6:09 a.m., paramedics were called to your house with reports of an unresponsive teenager. Dustin was lifeless.
    “I had told him I’d get him up early for work, and I came up about 5:45 to wake up him, and when I opened the door, he seemed just like he was tying his sneakers. Very quickly I realized, grabbed him and he was cold,” explained Greg Manning.
    Lisa Manning was at the gym when she got the call from her husband. “He said, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, call 911.’ I didn’t ask any questions. I knew.”
    Less than an hour later, at 6:53 a.m., another phone call was placed to 911.
    Half a mile in the future, 18-year-old Joseph Abraham was discovered slumped on the ground with his parents, Dave and Kathi Abraham. He had no heartbeat.
    “I began yelling and yelling and yelling, ‘Joe, Joe — wake up, guy!’ And then I realized there was something quite wrong,” explained Dave Abraham.
    “As soon as I watched him, I knew and I just ran and I just started holding him and I could tell he was cold,” said Kathi Abraham.
    “Dave was on the phone to 911 and I said, ‘It’s too late. We can not correct this,'” she added, as tears welled in her eyes.

    Childhood friends

    Dustin Manning and Joseph Abraham were childhood friends. They played on the exact same Little League team. For a couple of decades, Joseph’s father coached them.
    But in middle school, both began to dabble in drugs.
    The Abrahams believe their son had his first dose of opioids when he had his wisdom teeth removed. He was prescribed the medication again when he broke his ankle — and afterwards, his hand — playing sports.
    “If you are given a prescription by a doctor, we often just trust that,” Kathi Abraham explained.
    She believes Joseph turned to medication after dealing with two main tragedies at a young age.
    “He dropped two of his very good friends in eighth grade — one to cancer and one to a drowning. He actually had a difficult time. He struggled with that,” she explained.
    At age 12, Dustin told his parents he felt like he was suffering depression. He began taking medication and drinking beer.
    “He told us the medication are what gave him ‘the out’ and left him feel good,” Lisa Manning stated.
    Both parents sought aid from therapy centers, not once, but time and time again. Lisa Manning even began working at one of those centers to keep an eye on her son and better understand dependence.
    However, Dave Abraham claims that the remedies were not enough to fight with his son’s battle.
    “Once they shoot (opioids), there is a switch in their mind which gets flipped on — and to get that changed flipped back could take up to five decades, and most treatments are 35 days and they’re back out,” he explained.
    As stated by both sets of parents, Dustin and Joe had not been connected in recent decades, yet it seems they may have purchased the medication that killed them by exactly the exact same dealer. According to police documents, some of those pill wrappings were nearly identical.
    There have been fears in the area that other children may have purchased the very same drugs.

    Lost potential

    As the parents began to gain insight to the sphere of opioid addiction, they realized that getting the medication is fast and easy.
    Like most parents, they had high hopes for their beloved sons and their great potential.

      Why are opioids so addictive?

    The parents now attend a support group for people who have lost kids to opioids. And in a sign of these times, the support group grows in size.
    Last year, roughly 64,000 Americans died from opioids, according to the first government account of nationally drug deaths. That is more than the number of Americans killed in automobile accidents or from firearms.
    Fentanyl, that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, was invented to treat chronic pain. A very small amount can be fatal.
    The amount of people killed by fentanyl has risen from 3,000 to more than 20,000 in just three years — a 540 percent increase.
    President Trump has declared opioid dependence a public health emergency, which officials say will allow the federal government to reevaluate some regulations and give states more flexibility in how they use federal funds. It does not provide any funding to take care of the catastrophe.
    Like most critics, the Manning and Abraham households say it doesn’t go far enough.
    “This is really a just a measure, a small measure,” explained Greg Manning.
    “The problem with treatment right now is there is a really low percentage of success. The more they remain in therapy, the success rate goes up,” explained Dave Abraham.
    Additionally they need tougher punishment for traders.
    “These drugs are killing people and there is lots of drug dealers around,” Kathi Abraham explained.
    “To me it’s toxin or murder — anyone who sells fentanyl ought to have a life sentence,” her husband added.

    See the latest information and share your opinions with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    These parents believe prevention is key and education should begin as early as fifth grade.
    They have begun spreading awareness in their community in the expectation it will save another family from suffering the loss of a young child.
    As they tried to hold back tears, Lisa Manning and Kathi Abraham surrendered their lives are forever changed.
    “You alter. You’re never going be exactly the same. I will never be the man I was. It’s just like a knife deep in your heart,” explained Lisa Manning.
    “We wanted to have two kids because we wanted them to possess each other,” said Kathi Abraham as she cried. “Today (our son) Matthew is an only child.”

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