Chrystal Charlesworth, a young woman from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is hoping to raise awareness about opioid addiction by sharing the sad story of her sister, a heroin addict who passed away too soon.
Charlesworth took to Facebook to create a page titled “Losing Lexus” just a few days after her younger sister passed away from a cardiac arrest caused by heroin addiction.
Taking upon the #10YearChallenge, but turning it into a #10MonthsChallenge, Chrystal decided to share two pics of her sister: one at their grandmother’s funeral, and one at her funeral.
While the pics have caused some controversy on social media with people that feel uncomfortable by the image of death, the message accompanying the pictures have encouraged many others to share their own stories of addiction or losing a loved one to addiction.
“10 year challenge? Let’s talk about a (almost) 10 MONTH challenge.
Picture one was taken March of 2018 at my grandmothers funeral. The second picture was taken December of 2018 at my sister’s funeral.
In both pictures my sister, Lexus, is in the exact same church room, wearing the exact same shirt, and laying in the exact same kind of casket my grandmothers in.”
Lexus, who was 22, managed to stay sober for her grandmother’s funeral, but she was an active addict at the time. Chrystal recalled how Lexus kept using heroin for over a month before their mother decided to take her to her probation officer, where she had to admit she was using the opioid again.
“Lexus abided willingly because she genuinely wanted the help and I truly believe in my heart that she wanted to stay clean,” Chrystal wrote. “Off she would go though. Lexus would spend the next three and a half months in jail, waiting for a bed to open at a long term rehabilitation center that my mother, Christy, picked out in Philadelphia.”
After finally entering rehab, Lexus spent three months working through therapy. At the end of her stay, Lexus received a Vivitrol shot, a drug which manages opioid dependency/desire, and she was finally able to go back home. But not for long.
She lasted precisely 37 days wither family. She died on the 38.
“Out of those 38 days, she only used for three of them. It only took THREE days of using again. It only took one last hit for her body to go into cardiac arrest and ultimately cause her to take her last breath. My sister died somewhere between 5:40AM-6: 00 AM. She was to be home at 7 AM, just an hour later.”
Charlesworth continued her post stating that the reason why she decided to share her sister’s story, is because opioid addiction is a national problem that still doesn’t get enough attention. People are not fully educated about it, and most believe they are immune to losing a loved one to drugs because sometimes junkies can hide in plain sight.
“‘Junkies’ don’t always look the way that we think or see in movies. Addiction hides in the everyday faces all around us. So, let’s keep talking about this issue and raising awareness. Please, feel free to share. There are many out there who need to face this reality.”
Chrystal’s post has received over 6k reactions and more than 500 comments from other people sharing their own stories about losing a loved one to all types of addictions.
Among the comments, there are also some calling Chrystal insensitive and disrespectful for sharing a pic of her dead sister lying on her casket. For them, she delivered another message saying:
“I understand to some they would never want their photos taken afterlife (and that should be respected), but it really is not that taboo. Please know my family believes in CELEBRATING our loved ones lives through their deaths the same way we would have if they were still alive (by joking around and being light-hearted)”
Chrystal also stated that, through this journey, she has found that her way to heal and move on will be helping others and raising awareness about the issue that took her little sister’s life away.
Stacey Ladd of Cornelius, Oregon, is the mother of two boys and a girl, and she recently recounted her journey as the mother of an addict.
Her son Tyler started using drugs since he was 14. First, it was marijuana, and by the time he turned 17, he was a heroin addict.
In her story, Ladd shared how she was very open with her sons throughout her life, worked long jobs to support her sons independently, and thought that she had raised two strong independent and morally upright citizens.
She lost her family, love relationships, job opportunities, and even her younger son, to her uphill battle against her son's addiction, and yet, he's always back to square one.
"Just to know that through it all, he knows how much I love him and that I will always love him no matter what. I got up and held him for a long time," she wrote after receiving a loving message from the young man on her Facebook.
Their battle is far from over.
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