Her Son Paid the Ultimate Price for His Addiction

Steffen's Addiction

A Happy, Go-Lucky Child

Steffen was born to a kind and loving mother. But she was married to an abusive man. When she wasn’t around, his unrealistic expectations of Steffen resulted in abusive punishments. One day, at about seven or eight years old, Steffen couldn’t take it anymore. He ran across the street to his aunt’s house for help.

This resulted in an 18-month prison sentence for child abuse. Despite his assurances that he was “over it,” Steffen frequently brought up the abuse when he was upset. He was also getting into a lot of trouble at school. His mom took him to see a doctor, who diagnosed him with bipolar disorder.

For more information on co-occurring disorders and treatment options, click here.

Although there’s no cure for bipolar disorder, treatment helps relieve its symptoms. But like many people, Steffen didn’t like how the medication made him feel. He said it made him feel like “a zombie”. He set out to self-medicate, which did give him some respite from the symptoms, at first.

His mom would often come home from work to Steffen and his friends drinking and smoking pot. She knew he was going down a dangerous road. She recognized that his bipolar symptoms were getting worse. He was “happy one second and then you know, look at him wrong and the world was going to end,” she recalls.

Desperate for Relief and on a Dangerous Path

Steffen had been going to counseling three or four times a week when his mom’s childhood friend needed help. He had gotten into some trouble and needed a place to stay while he was on parole. His mom saw this as an opportunity for Steffen to see that his behaviors had consequences. “I figured that he would teach Stef and his friends this is not the way that you want to go in life,” said his mom.

However, she didn’t realize that her friend was still struggling with addiction, himself. In fact, he facilitated her worst nightmare. “[He] got Stef and his friends hooked on the harder drugs,” she said.

A few years later, Steffen had an accident. He fell down a full flight of icy stairs, which injured his back. The pain was excruciating, so his doctor prescribed opioids for relief. After prescribing pain pills for two years, the doctor said enough is enough. He stopped writing the prescriptions. Without a way to get the pills, Steffen turned to heroin to satisfy his addiction.

Heroin is a high-maintenance addiction. It doesn’t take long for the agonizing withdrawal symptoms to set in. Steffen became exhausted by the cycle of drug addiction. From getting high to recovering to finding more before getting too dope sick, Steffen knew there was more to life.

False Rock Bottom

Eventually, Steffen married his high school sweetheart and they had three children. Junior, Mindy, and Khaleesi adored their daddy. Meanwhile, Steffen continued to battle his addiction.

One day, Baby Khaleesi got ahold of something that Steffen dropped on the floor. Her parents rushed her to the hospital and doctors administered Narcan to save her life. As a result, Child Protective Services wouldn’t allow Steffen around the children.

He agreed to go through detox. But it intensified his bipolar symptoms. His behavior alarmed the detox staff, so they moved him to a mental hospital. When the hospital released him, he went home instead of back to the detox center.

Finding the Treatment Center He Needed

Steffen needed meaningful, professional help for drug addiction. He continued to try to maintain his role as a husband and father. Although, it didn’t last long. One day, he needed to pick up his son from school while his wife was at work. But he didn’t show.

His wife picked Junior up and when they got home, she found Steffen. “He was just passed out on the floor,” said his mother. “This is when we kind of knew that his heroin addiction was out of control.”

His brother, Dalton picked Steffen up and sat with him while he sobered up. They asked A Better Today to take this special person and help him find his way. They agreed.

Recovery Isn’t Easy for the Addicted Brain

Addiction is a psychological disease with mental, physical, and emotional consequences. The chemical makeup of the brain still reflects the addiction. In other words, despite his stints in detox, Steffen was still behaving like an addicted person because he still had a drug addiction. Effective treatment must include mental and emotional healing, as well.

At first, he hated the treatment center, as well as being so far away from home. But his mom only purchased a one-way plane ticket. This was a key component to his recovery. He had no choice but to stay in treatment. After about 65 days, he conceded. “You know what, Mom? You’re right. I need to stay here,” he told her. He was getting better.

His mom noticed the progress he was making when he began showing accountability. She had never seen him do that before. In fact, he was a different person when he got home. She remembers the first thing he said when he got off the plane. “I wish I never left A Better Today. Those people are my family,” he said. “I made so many genuine friends.”

Integrating Back into His Life at Home

Before Steffen left home for treatment, he owed money to his drug dealer. He wanted to keep his family safe, so he needed to tie up that loose end. His mom drove him to the meet-up point. When he was done, he met her at the nearby Wendy’s where they had lunch with his kids.

When they got home from Wendy’s, he and Junior went to his room to play Call of Duty. The next morning, when Baby Khaleesi started crying Steffen wasn’t waking up to take care of her. His mom went into the bedroom to wake him up, but he wouldn’t. He was dead.

The autopsy report revealed that he had overdosed on a small amount of heroin. He may have relapsed when he paid the dealer. They concluded that it had interacted with the psychiatric medications he was taking for his mental illness.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to Steffen’s family. He was a cherished son, father, husband, and brother. Steffen touched the hearts of the staff at A Better Today Recovery Services. He is missed and will not be forgotten.


  1. I think people should read about such inspirations where the addicted people should acknowledge their will power to fight the evils of their lives.

  2. Self medication is the fundamental step towards addictive behavior. One person uses drugs for his pleasure but his whole family suffers.

  3. So sad to hear what happened to Steffen. When mental illness and drug addiction is combined, the effects are generally more intensified sadly.

    1. When someone with mental illness and drug addicts are combined, the effects are always bad. Let tell those around us about the light.

  4. Scary that his baby got a hold of some drugs!! Thank God they were able to get the baby to the hospital in time.

    1. Being addicted to drug and alcohol is very bad. He had no choice but to stay in treatment. Effective treatment must include mental.

  5. This is not too good for Steffen with such husband of hers. Being addicted to drug and alcohol is very bad. A lot of people ended up at the rehab because of such combo.

  6. Such an unfortunate happening. This is why parents need to be extra vigilant. This drug addiction always come along with all form of disorder. Please let’s do everything possible so that our wards can stay clear of drug

  7. This story is a fascinating one. It brings out the desire of the mother to help her son out of alcoholism and she did paid the prize.

  8. This is a sad and emotional story. Drug and alcohol addiction is a very bad thing. It does a lot of damage to the body

  9. This is a very sad and emotional story, thank God he was able to recover from his addiction. Detox to rehab thank you for sharing this amazing story of recovery.

  10. This case of addiction really saddens my heart. It is really disheartening. Getting into addiction because of your kind of background. It is unfair if I may say.

  11. This is really Sad knowing Steffen lost his life.
    Recovery is difficult for an addicted brain.
    Please do Stay away from Harmful substances.

  12. Steffen went through a lot just from coming from an abusive background. This life can be difficult to navigate sometimes and sometimes it beyond our control

  13. Detox has been amazing in helping out the society and I believe they don’t really get the credit they deserve. Firstly I want to say a big kudos to detox. I’m so glad Steffen was able to get the perfect treatment and now happiness is being found.

  14. My condolences to the family too, but Steffen did fought a good fight. Family should always be there for addicts to help them sail through.

  15. Steffen story is so pathetic,it is really emotional, thank God for his recovery and thanks to detox to rehab for saving the life of people, keep the good work moving,God will reward you

  16. We cannot choose who are our parents will be. But let us not continue with our child, our bad experiences from our parents. This is so heart breaking. But, may Steffen and her son, continue life in recovery.

  17. Recovery from drug addiction might not be so easy but with self determination and discipline one will overcome it. There’s no avantage of drug abuse.

  18. bipolar disorder is terrible…I’m steffen went through abusive punishment as a kid..this things leaves a lasting mark on the kid..I hate the fact that he later went into drugs but was so much relieved when I read he found the right treatment center..this is so inspiring

  19. Paying the ultimate price for addiction is really painful more reason I love people that found help before loosing their lives. I really feel the pain she went through

  20. The experience wasn’t an easy one but he came out triumphant. Sacrifice make one have the boldness to say God is good because sacrifice without God’s input is a waste.

  21. What happened to Stephen was very bad. Do not know how many lives have been ruined by the use of drugs and excessive addiction.

  22. This is really disheartening and painful. I feel all people facing addiction should stop to rethink. It shouldn’t get to lose of life please

  23. It’s really painful loosing ones life to drugs is disheartening. I feel this womans pain and I wish all people should share this piece. It will really help a long way

  24. Really feel sympathy for Steffen. Her drug addiction affected her child which is very bad. Glad she is taking the step towards recovery.

  25. It painful how people can put their loved ones into pains and debt just because of our behaviour and choices. It’s well and I pray we all see help

  26. God help parents because taking care of a child or children takes a lot of care, time and presence of the parents in the life of the child. It is si sad that despite everything she lost her son.

  27. This is quite an unfortunate story and very emotional. We should all be guided by this. She never thought she was going to loose her son to the cold hand of drugs. May God console her and the family he left behind.

  28. Wow this case of addiction really shocking me,how not people with substance abuse loss his life with three kids,my condolence to this family, remember us all people in the world how dangerous if don’t have right treatment,as fast as possible

  29. So sad to hear what happened to Steffen. When mental illness and drug addiction are combined, the effects are generally more intensified sadly. Very sad to hear

  30. I was literally upset while reading the article. how a person this level problem simultaneously at a time. That addiction and mental disorder took away his life . Thanks to organization and his family who support at that time.

  31. Sad to know that this is what happened in steffen’s life. With every taking of the medicine there must really be a prescription comes from the doctor.

  32. Self medication especially using high dosage of medicine isnt good. You never notice you are being addicted to that medicine.

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