CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — The opioid crisis keeps growing in New York. The state comptroller shared a report last month showing overdoses went up by 68 percent from 2019 to 2021.
A mom from Lockport who lost her son to a fentanyl overdose in 2020 wants to help fight that epidemic with a new foundation.
"He had been through a lot. A lot more than most children go through, and he wouldn't seek professional help. It didn't work for him," Debbie Sparks said.
Devanti Sparks died in July of 2020 of a fentanyl overdose.
"It went from marijuana, to pills, to heroin, and then he died from fentanyl," Sparks said.
Devanti Sparks was 27 years old.
"We did get a conviction of the person that had sold it to him. Six years, but six years is nothing compared to my son being gone forever, and my five children not having their brother, and my grandchildren not having their father," Sparks said.
So now his mom, Debbie, wants to start a foundation, Devanti's Message, to help families struggling with addiction.
"We'd like to turn it into a coalition. Our actual final goal will be to open a transition house. Not a sober living environment, not a rehab, nothing like that, a transition house," Sparks said.
To do that, they need volunteers, including an attorney, grant writers, and people with marketing skills. They want to get billboards up, to do programs for parents, and they're already giving out Narcan to people.
Debbie's friend, Michelle, also has a loved one touched by addiction.
"When I come to the cemetery with her, or we're working on helping somebody, or people are reaching out to us, in one second, my loved one could lose his recovery and end up in a grave," Michelle said.
The women want to get more people talking openly about the opioid crisis and get more families the help they need.
"Nobody wakes up in the morning and says I want to be an addict. There's that mental health part of it that goes with it. There's demons that they're trying to get rid of, or hurt that they're trying to hide, and this is the way they do that," Sparks said.
If you would like to help Debbie and Michelle, you can call Debbie at 716-392-2384.