The mother of a 19-year-old male who died from a drug overdose is sharing her story in hopes of ending the stigma around addiction.
On Dec. 16, 2018, Amanda Poole Krueger’s son, Giancarlo Baldini, relapsed after 10 months of sobriety and died of a heroin overdose in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend.
In the weeks following his death, the Napa Valley, Calif. mother penned an emotional essay for the website Love What Matters to share “the ugly truth” about drug addiction: That it can happen to anyone.
“Heroin doesn’t care if you’re young or old. If you’re rich or poor. If you’re black or white,” Krueger wrote. “Heroin doesn’t care. He is my baby boy.”
According to Krueger, her son had never exhibited any of the warning signs attributed to heroin use, such as disappearing for periods of time, deceptive behaviour, mood swings and never appeared high by “nodding out.” Whenever Giancarlo did withdraw to his bedroom, the family chalked it up to typical teenage behaviour.
In July 2017, the family sent Giancarlo to rehab after learning of his drug use. The pricey facility cost $45,000 for just 45 days of treatment, with the teen spending another three months at an outpatient facility before residing in a sober living house for a year.
An avid hiker and hunter, Giancarlo began working for the Norther Californian County of Marin, a job that combined his love of the outdoors and public service.
Shortly before his death, Krueger said her son made plans to take his six-year-old brother Clyde to look for Santa on Christmas Eve, but they would never get the chance.
The night before his death, Krueger spoke to her son who told her, “I’m OK mom, I love you too.”
“The only way I can explain this pain is that every cell in my body that created my son is on fire yearning to hold him again,” she wrote. “It’s a physical pain that only a mother would know. It’s in my bone marrow. Just a deep yearning to touch him, and hold him.”
Krueger’s husband and Giancarlo’s step-father, Brian, had the difficult task of breaking the news of what had happened to their six-year-old son in a way that he could understand, by taking him out for a drive.
“He said, ‘Giancarlo had an invisible disease that made him sad and he took medicine that the doctor did not give him and it made him very sick and he died and went to heaven,'” Krueger wrote. “I wasn’t there but my husband said that my son gave a gut wrenching scream that didn’t sound like it could come from a six-year-old.”
In the wake of Giancarlo’s death, Krueger and her family are trying to raise awareness of the many faces and the pandemic of opioid and drug addiction.
“Kids are DYING, and people are too afraid to be honest even in obituaries because of the social stigma,” she said. “How can I go on Craigslist right now and search for black roofing tar and find heroin for sale? And clear sealant? That means meth. How do I know this and the police don’t? Why isn’t this a weekly segment on the news?”
Krueger is relying on her friends and family to cope with her loss and says she hopes that by sharing her son’s story, she can help continue the conversation of addiction and help other families.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, I’m learning now it also takes a village to bury a child.”