An Ohio mom is raising awareness on social media of the tragic toll being taken by America's heroin epidemic.
"I'm sure this photo makes a lot of people uncomfortable it may even piss a few people off but the main reason I took it was to show the reality of addiction," Eva Holland wrote. The photo, posted on Facebook and Instagram, shows Holland and her two young children posing by the open casket of their father, who died after struggling with heroin and prescription pain pills.
"The cold hard truth is heroin kills. You may think it will never happen to you but guess what that's what Mike thought too," she wrote.
Holland said she and Mike had been together 11 years. His addiction problem began, like so many others, with prescription pain pills, and later progressed to heroin. She said he went to rehab late last year and came out "a brand new man." But after a few months of healthier living, he relapsed over the summer.
"It started with a single pill for a 'tooth ache' which inevitably lead him back down the road of addiction," Holland wrote. "He said he could handle it, that he could stop on his own and didn't need to get help again. Well he was wrong."
Mike died on September 2, CBS affiliate WTRF reports. Although the coroner has not yet released his official cause of death, Holland is certain it's connected to his struggle with drugs.
Now, she wrote in another Facebook post, "Lucas will grow up without his dad there cheering him on during his games and Ava will never have her dad walk her down the [aisle]."
Such tragedies are becoming increasingly common. Between 2001 and 2013 there was a five-fold increase in the total number of heroin deaths in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Over the past decade, heroin use more than doubled among people ages 18 to 25, and the CDC finds those who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
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"If you don't choose recovery every single day this will be your only way out," Holland wrote. "I just needed to share his story in case it can help anyone else."