‘The most fortunate of the unfortunate’  (Aimee Dunkle interview Part 4 of 4)

In the final installment of our four-part interview with Aimee Dunkle, she addressed how she managed to move on with her life after losing her son Ben in 2012 to a heroin overdose.

Dunkle found a support system in other parents who went through similar, tragic experiences.

“Being around other parents who have lost their child makes the world of difference to me,” Dunkle said. “We all speak the same language.”

She highlighted that honest and open conversations among parents and their children are extremely important – even if such conversations cannot prevent addiction from happening altogether, they always help.  

“I don’t know what the answer is other than dialogue and understanding,” she said.  

In Dunkle’s opinion, parents should be knowledgeable and teach their kids about substance abuse and the dangers of using drugs alone. “You can’t force somebody to get well but you can provide them with the tools and the education.”   

She said she was ashamed to say that she did not understand addiction before her son’s struggle with opioids and that for a moment she thought her son could control his substance use disorder.  

After Ben passed away, Dunkle decided that in order to move forward with her life and get closure, the best thing she could was do to help other people struggling with substance use disorder and educate herself on addiction as a medical condition.

Her initial step was to visit sober living homes and detox facilities to train the staff to make sure that their workplace was equipped with Naloxone.  

“Also, when I am lucky I get to train the clients,” Dunkle said. “Explain to them how after a period of abstinence, they’re far more likely to die from an overdose.”

She explained that there’s a bigger chance for patients to overdose as they leave jails or hospitals because… (continue reading)