The epidemic of painkiller addiction in Oklahoma touches so many families, including a Claremore woman whose daughter died from her addiction.
After her daughter’s death, she turned her pain into a purpose.
Of course, when a parent raises a child, they never dream they'll grow up to become addicted to painkillers and other pills and eventually die from that addiction. But, it happens all the time in Oklahoma.
Layla Freeman says her daughter Ashley was a ray of sunshine who loved nature, animals, art and writing, but when she turned 16, depression set in and she became withdrawn. Her mother started digging through closets and phones and found weed and pills.
"It begins as an insanity for a parent as you're trying to get control of something that you have no control over,” said Freeman. “You can't figure it out. Pills are hidden easily."
She tried everything but Ashley's drug use progressed to cocaine and heroin and always more pills.
"We even discovered she was doing meals on wheels on purpose to get into elderly people's homes and steal from medicine cabinets,” said Freeman.
Ashley died from an overdose that led to kidney failure on Christmas eve nearly four years ago, leaving behind a precious daughter, a devastated mother and grieving family.
"There's nothing like a child loss, nothing like a child loss,” said Freeman.
Last year, Freeman created a nonprofit called Light of Hope that helps addicts and their families.
"An addict is someone who is struggling internally with pain but chooses a substance to numb that pain,” Freeman explained.
For Freeman, doing nothing was simply not an option.
She created the nonprofit to make sure other families avoid the same loss she has suffered.
For more information on Light of Hope, visit www.lightofhopeinc.org.