OxyContin In Your Words: Brett O’Keefe

“OxyContin In Your Words” stories are unedited accounts of painkiller and heroin addiction. This story comes from Kathy and Ben O’Keefe.


Brett was never a good student. But, he was a great friend. Starting in middle school, he started smoking pot. According to him, over the next few years, came ecstasy, bars (Xanax), meth, and heroin. He just liked to get high.

His first overdose was at our home. We found him in the morning. The anxiety was something I had never experienced and know that I never wanted to again. When the doctor at the ER said it was a heroin overdose, we all just froze. That brought 5 days in the hospital and an understanding of how this drug destroys the body.

Clean for about 6 months, on Sept. 30th, we got a call from a family where he had spent the night. “Brett has overdosed, and it does not look good.” Off to Baylor Hospital with that horrid gut wrenching pain. This time there was quite a bit of blood, it was just really different than what we experienced the first time. The doctor put him on a ventilator, stabilized him and off to ICU we went. We had already learned how to monitor the machines and pray for his life. So that is what we did. That is all we could do.

After 5 days, they got him off the vent, and he was doing better. A few days later we went straight from Baylor to rehab. He finally got bounced from there due to insurance, and home Thanksgiving Eve. Gosh it was nice. Great attitude, looked healthy, and actually enjoyed the family. Luckily my parents were with us and had the opportunity to enjoy their grandchild.

He was doing well. Got a job he liked and worked at sobriety. The addiction was really tough. We knew that, and knew if the monkey got strong, Brett would lose.

Spring break and our son Kyle came home for a few days, so we planned a quick family getaway to San Antonio. Thursday night, Brett came home from work and said he was going to go out for a few hours, but would be home. He promised he would. We told him we were leaving at 9:00 am, whether he was here or not.

At 11:00, we left without him. At 1:00pm he called and after understanding that we were NOT going to turn around and get him, he said that’s OK, he would just hang with some friends at home. The three of us had a great evening on the river. We talked to Brett about 8:00 pm. “Don’t mess up the house and just kick back.” Back to the hotel and up early to go to the art museum.

Saturday, Kyle was in the shower getting ready, we were already dressed and my phone rang and it was the hospital. The news we dreaded so much had arrived. “We did all we could. I am really sorry.”

Telling Kyle was the one of hardest things we had to do. We immediately left San Antonio and made the 5-hour, quiet drive home. All lost in our own thoughts. We could not talk. Our safety was at hand. Once we were close to home, all of us became anxious. When we got home, we immediately began to “fall apart.” Friends came with support, food, love. But it did not matter. We were now three.

I remember those few days after. Mostly trying to grasp what our life had now turned into, and making sure that all the details were perfect. After all, it was for Brett.

We miss our son immensely, but know that he is no longer an addict that has to fight every single day of his life. His purpose on earth was to be a friend. We know that now. His purpose now, is to help those friends shed their monkeys. As a parent, we will continue to help him.

From this experience we started a non-profit organization called WTF – Winning The Fight! Our goal is to educate parents and youth about drugs and the addiction that they create.

About Erin Marie Daly

I’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. My book on prescription drug and heroin addiction was published in August 2014 by Counterpoint Press.
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