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In Son's Memory, Firefighter Works to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Ryans Story image 1Scott DePuy, a firefighter with Eastside Fire & Rescue in Washington State, lost his teenage son Ryan to prescription drug abuse in 2008

Here's Ryan's story in his father's words.

Five years ago, my son Ryan died of an accidental overdose of four different medications and possibly nitrous oxide. Ryan’s system simply shut down and he never woke up.

Like many parents, we did not know the first time Ryan used drugs. When we did discover he was using drugs, Ryan could not explain why he used.

As a firefighter, to not be able to save my own son’s life is devastating. This loving young man with a great sense of humor wanted so many things but had the large obstacle of drugs in his way. He was a good kid with good morals, ethics and values. Ryan just got into something he could not overcome no matter how much his family wanted him to. That’s how powerful prescription drug abuse can be.

Ryans Story image 2Ryan’s Mom, sister and I all miss him very much. Since his death and in honor of his memory, his mom and I started a foundation to help prevent other families from having to share this same fate.  Our foundation is committed to getting drugs and drug dealing out of schools and to educate parents and teens.  

We work with local law enforcement to make sure parents have safe ways of disposing unused prescription medications so easy access is eliminated.

We have sponsored Drug and Alcohol speakers to train Lake Stevens and Granite Falls school bus drivers of the signs and symptoms of drug use, and to recognize and report when drug paraphernalia is left on the bus.

We support the schools’ drug resource counselors with their projects, and we meet with administrative staff and teachers in order to problem solve issues that come up. We are in constant dialogue with school club advisors and school staff, always looking for new ways to keep parents and students aware and paying attention to creating a DRUG FREE campus.

However, through all this, there is still one obstacle – the lack of medicine take-back programs. One of the hardest parts is explaining to parents how to safely dispose of medicines. Not because the process itself is complicated – it’s actually quite simple. But because there are not enough medicine take-back programs available in our area to accommodate the need. Having adequate and safe disposal is key to getting unwanted medicines out of the home medicine cabinet so easy access to prescription drugs is eliminated. 

To learn more about Ryan’s story and about this critical issue, visit:



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