'I was the last that said goodnight to him.'

By: Jessica Bonardi

Julie Hines courageously shares how the fentanyl crisis changed her life forever.

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On today’s special edition episode of Up To Speed, we spoke with Verizon’s Vice President of Innovation and Strategic Business Operations, Julie Hines, who courageously shares how the fentanyl crisis changed her life forever.

Julie shared stories about her late son Tyler Joe Young, who she described as: smart, curious, funny and full of life. “High IQ comes with high anxiety,” Julie said. “His mind was racing 24/7, I mean his mind was always on fire, that’s what started the self medication.”

It wasn’t until he was 17 that Julie realized there was a problem. Around that time came a trip to a relative’s home for Thanksgiving, she says Tyler looked uneasy and when she looked through his bag she found an array of expired prescriptions he had taken from around the house. He admitted he hadn’t been sober in a year.

She began to look for full time help for Tyler, he eventually graduated from a program and was sober. He set off to college but due to the pandemic, came home in March of 2020. Julie says she felt relieved having him under her roof. But one morning she went to wake him up and he was gone, he was only 19-years-old.

“He bought what he thought was a percocet,” Julie said. “Unfortunately it was laced with fentanyl.”

After a year of mourning she was able to find a routine that gave her the strength to carry on. And although she knows her son is at peace she refuses to let his death be for nothing.

“One in four drugs from the street are laced with fentanyl – you’re playing Russian Roulette,” Julie said.“ There is a story that needs to be told, because this cannot keep happening.”

As for the support she’s felt at work: “There’s unbelievable people that are so helpful in Verizon” Julie said. “The V Teamers, the things that they did to help support me, I just wouldn't ever have guessed it could possibly be that much heartfelt support.”

Shortly after Tyler's death, Julie's daughter, Alexis Young wrote and published her brother's memoir, The Worst Thing. It is a candid book about the experience of losing her brother, navigating through his addiction, and the fentanyl crisis.

This upcoming Sunday, August 21 is National Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day. V Teamers who would like additional resources can visit the Verizon Employee Assistance Program page for more information. To learn more about the danger of illicit fentanyl click here.

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