Memorial

Memorial

Ronald ("Ronnie") Cook

Ronald ("Ronnie") Cook

Born
Died

My beloved brother died of a heroin overdose on January 4, 2017. He was 52 years old. He was an extremely sensitive, loving, kind, compassionate, funny, warm, talented man and he will be missed forever. He is loved deeply by his entire family and I, for one, will never stop advocating for better treatment and more access to help for people suffering from the disease of substance use disorder.

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Shannon Hagler
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My brother struggled with his substance use disorder since he was a young teenager. He grew up in the 70s, when drug experimentation was "accepted". Unfortunately, his genetics weren't conducive to this experimentation (he was my half brother and his biological father also suffered from a severe substance use disorder his entire life and ultimately died from complications related to that in his 50s as well). He did well for a while and even was director of a drug treatment center on two separate occasions. Ultimately, however, his struggle was so powerful that he would succumb sooner or later and begin using again. He would have to feign being suicidal just to be admitted to a mental health facility to obtain treatment, which I think is an absolute travesty. When he died, he had just been released from a treatment center in Las Vegas (he lived in Florida but that was the ONLY treatment facility that had a bed for him that my family could find). He was on librium, prescribed by the treatment facility, and took heroin and apparently the combination is what led to his death. He died alone in a hotel room in Las Vegas. However, I know angels surrounded him--he was released from his long struggle and suffering. I only wish it hadn't taken death to release him from his deep shame and sense of failure that his struggle brought him his whole life. Ronnie was and is deeply loved and missed by his family and friends. His substance use disorder did not define him, to me--he was SO MUCH MORE. I hope we can bring awareness to the horrible sense of shame and self–hatred so many people suffering from this disorder have and that we, as society, perpetuate, even in the healthcare industry (I'm a registered nurse and I hear deplorable terminology used by my fellow nurses when describing patients who are suffering from this disorder). I also hope we can make changes that bring real treatment options for ALL people suffering with this disorder, regardless of their ability to pay. It has to be prioritized in the same way that treatments for any other chronic, serious, widespread, eventually terminal disease would. Thank you, Shatterproof, for your tireless efforts to effect change. Namaste...

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