The first time we discovered Avery using any type of drug was when he was 14 1⁄2 years old. We caught him smoking marijuana. We had many prior discussions about the dangers of drugs and the possible peer pressure to use. Over the next year, there were further instances of Avery smoking marijuana and an increase in defiant behavior. Avery insisted he knew what he was doing and would never do anything “stupid”. We tried to get him to understand that when you are under the influence, your decision making is impaired.

During the late summer, Avery’s mother discovered an empty bottle of pain killers in our medicine cabinet. She confronted Avery and he admitted he had taken the pills. This was the first we knew of Avery using anything other than marijuana. Another evening, Avery seemed off and he admitted he had taken some Tylenol PM from our bathroom. Although we had begun locking our medicine in a lockbox, we had not included the Tylenol PM.

The next day we found a facility that would assess him to determine the extent of the problem and if and what treatment he should receive. The counselor indicated that he did not believe Avery needed any specific treatment at this time but that we should continue to monitor.

We always stay with Avery’s grandmother for Christmas, which is out of town. This year was no different. The entire extended family celebrated as usual. On the night of December 26th Avery and his brother stayed at his Aunt and Uncle’s house since their computers and internet speed were much better than Grandmother’s. We would pick them up the next day, then drive home. We arrived at the house around 1:00 pm. Avery was still sleeping. My wife went into the bedroom to wake him up and found he was not breathing. We did CPR and called 911. He was taken to the hospital, but it was too late. One year had passed since we first caught him smoking.

The autopsy confirmed our suspicion that Avery died of an accidental drug overdose. It would take two months before we could read Avery’s text messages from his phone. The messages from the night before and the early morning told the story. He had taken some Ambien and found some prescription strength cough medicine in a cabinet in their kitchen and possibly something else. He even told the person he was texting that he found the “pharmacy”. Although we had secured all prescription drugs in our home, we did not think to ask Avery’s aunt to do the same. During the course of the night, his texts gradually became more incoherent. He was extremely high from the combination of drugs. Neither of his friends recognized that something might be wrong. They probably just thought he was high.

We miss him as much as ever. We know Avery never would’ve wanted to cause the pain that resulted from his death. We don’t really know if Avery was addicted but it really doesn’t matter. It only takes one lapse in judgment to end a life. ~ Tony

In Loving Memory
Avery Rene Littleton
April 8, 1995—December 27, 2010