David’s story – A father’s grief

A father shares his story of a son lost to problematic prescription drug use


On December 19, 2013 I buried my son, David John Couture.  He was 22 years old, would have been 23 on January 31, 2014.

I am sharing this story with a prayer that it saves even one life, so that the death of my son will have been of some meaning.

David was a happy, fun loving child. He passion was to be a professional ball player one day.

He loved animals of all kinds, but especially dogs and cats. David’s mom and I divorced when David was only a baby. His mom re-married very soon after and I about 6 years later. I have two other children, Adam & Brigitte, who David treated extremely well, loved them with all his heart.   We camped every year with a group of people and every year this group became larger and more love connections were made.

Most people that met David said, “What a polite little boy, you just don’t see that too often”.  David would volunteer in the small town he lived in with his grand father to shovel snow for the elderly, clean homes that were too close to a factory, all to help people and spend time with this grandfather, how he loved his grandfather.

David lived this happy go lucky carefree life until he was 14 years old, when he injured his knee in a basketball game.

He had a total of 4 surgeries on this knee and was being booked for a 5th just a week before he died.  At the time of the injury, he was introduced to pain medication, Oxycontin, Percocet, etc.

By the time David turned 16, he was using these meds to get high.  Eventually, he needed the medication to just level his personality and to normalize himself. He smoked marijuana to party with his friends and drank only occasionally.

David had been diagnosed ADHD when he was about 6 years old, but I always felt under medication he did very well. Unfortunately, he began to sell his ADHD pills to obtain funds to buy whatever drug he needed more of, either the Oxycontin or Marijuana.

About 6 months ago, they discovered that David had been abusing these pain meds, so they cut him off, cold turkey. He went spastic, going from clinic to clinic, hospital to hospital, always trying to get something for his pain or withdrawal symptoms.

About two months back, David moved back to his mother’s 1 bedroom basement apartment. He was starting to clean up his act, was asking me to look into rehab centres for him, he was printing up flyers to start shovelling driveways for extra money, his best friend was 2 years clean – we had hope!

David called me on Wednesday December 11th, talked about Rehab again, our Christmas plans and said, I love you, dad!

On Friday, Dec. 13th, at 10:30 am, I texted him to let him know I was coming to see him, then I texted again at 11:30 am, then I called him.

His mom went down to check on him and found him dead on his bed. Lying next to him were a pair of scissors and Fentanyl Patches.

When they cut David off his meds, he found these black market painkiller patches. Apparently some kids cut the patches into squares and put the medication under their tongues, which means a strong dosage goes directly into their system. If they are taken as prescribed, they can an effective pain medication for someone that is suffering from cancer for example.  But when used the way David did, a person could cut a square of this patch and end up with 50% or 75 % of the dosage instantly.

It’s extremely dangerous. This is what killed my son.

We had hundreds of people come to my son’s service, so many people in so much pain!   David’s  family; his brother, 16-year-old Adam, his 13-year-old sister Brigitte, his mom, his step dad, myself, his Dad who loved him so dearly, and his step mom. Not to mention my mother, David’s only living blood relative grandparent.

I would like to share one story that happened during my son’s funeral service.  An elderly lady came in to pay her respects, unknown to any of us.   She said, “I wanted to pay my respects to your son.”

She told us that, a little while back, she had slipped and fell outside a store and could not get up. My son David went over and put her head on his lap and held her while he called for help. She asked his name, but he said,”don’t worry about that right now, are you OK? ” When help arrived, he left. She went back to the same store, and the owner said, “remember that boy who helped you? He died.” She felt compelled to come and share the story with David’s mother and I.

This was the part of my son that never left him, even when he was misusing these drugs.  There are so many children who are so good on the inside, that are hiding behind these drugs.

If you or someone you know is misusing these patches, stop them.This is game of Russian roulette.  So many young people are losing this game, and so many of their families are doing the suffering!

If this story could reach one child or help one parent, it would mean my son’s death has some meaning. 

David’s father, Larry Couture

Larry’s story touches us all deeply. Our thoughts are with him and his family. If you have a teen who is problematically using prescription drugs – please don’t hesitate to ask a medical professional for help.   Check our Regional resources page to find help in your region.

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