My passion for D2L's mission of drug and alcohol addiction recovery and awareness runs deep. Ryan, my 20 year old son, was on the road to recovery when he lost his battle March 2018. Although he lost his fight, it will not stop me from carrying on the message of hope to others who struggle.
This photo was taken on my visit to Prescott, AZ to see Ryan Feb. 2018. It had been 6 months since I'd seen him and it would be the last time we'd be together. Ryan passed away 6 weeks later, March 2018, and I will forever treasure those last few days we had together.
To my Buddy, I know you are with me and I will carry you in my heart always. Until we meet again, I love you to the moon & back - Mom
JUNE 11, 1997 TO MARCH 31, 2018
My son's story of drug use doesn't begin with any known medical condition or sports injury that would start him off on prescription pills and then progress from there. It started with Ryan never really feeling comfortable in his own skin and never feeling like he quite fit in.
For as long as I can remember, Ryan, was a just happy, considerate, loving little boy. Even though he was an only child, we lived close by to all of his grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins so there was certainly never a shortage of family who loved him in his life.
Throughout grade school, Ryan played a few different sports but his real passion was for video games and playing XBox Live was how he spent most of his time up until his mid-teens. Even though Ryan played online with other kids, there was no real human interaction so at age 16, when he finally started hanging out after school with a few friends in the neighborhood, I was so excited for him. What I didn't know is that it would be this very moment in time that would set Ryan up for how the rest of his life would ultimately play out.
Ryan's late teen years were typical, he started driving, he graduated from Sachem East High School, Class of 2015, and enrolled in Suffolk Community College to study child psychology. He also had a great job working in the gaming department at Best Buy, so on the surface, all seemed right in the world.
Although, not the case for everyone, but certainly for Ryan, his marijuana use that started at age 16 was definitely a gateway drug for all of the other drugs Ryan would ultimately go on to use such as crack, cocaine, Xanax, heroin, the list goes on. Ryan hated himself for the ugly turn his life had taken, and after almost giving up on his life altogether, Ryan tried very hard to get a handle on his addiction. He went into drug rehab. in Arizona for 3 months and then onto sober living from there. It was a constant battle for Ryan to stay out of his own head and fight the demons that kept telling him to get high which is what the disease of addiction does to an addict.
Ryan was in AZ for just 9 months trying to assemble a new sober life for himself. He even decided that when he was ready to go back to college, he was changing his major from child psychology to drug & alcohol addiction counseling to help others who struggled just like him.
Unfortunately, even though Ryan was on the road to recovery, the damage was already done. Ryan passed away, a little over 3 months clean and sober, in his sleep as a result of an enlarged heart from his prior drug use.
Knowing my fierce determination to keep Ryan's memory alive as well as my dedication to Dying to Live's mission of addiction recovery and awareness, shortly after Ryan's passing in 2018, the founder of D2L, Laura Soviero, named me to the board of directors. In September of 2020, Laura stepped back from her role as President of the foundation and I am now acting President of Dying to Live. I am honored to be a part of this amazing Foundation and for the opportunity to carry out so much good through so much pain.
To our son Ryan, we will never learn how to stop missing you, but we will learn to live our lives while missing you - Love Mom & Dad
We Love You To The Moon & Back! ❤ #TeamRyan; 😇🌵💙
2018 DYING TO LIVE TESTIMONY - From Kristen Scalice (President of D2L since 2020)
Words simply cannot express the gratitude I feel when I think about what Laura Soviero and the Dying to Live Foundation has done for me and my family. Laura helped guide us through each and every one of my son Ryan’s struggles and successes with support, encouragement as well as financial assistance when needed. From when I first discovered that Ryan was struggling with drug use May 2017, until he lost his battle March 2018, Laura offered support with everything.
Laura arranged to get Ryan into a safe and reputable rehab. facility in Arizona as well as helped transition him into sober living when the time came. While he was living in Arizona, Laura continued to conduct phone counseling sessions with Ryan as well as meet with me when I was at the end of my rope and didn’t know where to turn. She educated me on addiction, so I can better understand Ryan’s struggle and exactly what the disease of addiction had done to him both physically and mentally. I appreciated that Laura never sugar-coated the uphill battle it was going to be, but always gave me hope that better days would come. Although better days did come for Ryan, it was too late and on March 31, 2018 Ryan passed away peacefully in his sleep at his sober home in AZ.
Even though my heart was completely shattered, I was so proud when I received Ryan's toxicology report back to find out he was completely clean of all drugs when he passed away. Unfortunately, it seems that the damage was already done when his autopsy later revealed that we ultimately lost him to complications as a result of his previous drug use which weakened his heart.
When Laura heard the news of Ryan's passing, she was absolutely devastated. She made it her mission to get Ryan back home to us as quickly as possible and as always, she accomplished just that, speaking some of the most beautiful words at Ryan's memorial service.
Laura continues to check-up on both my husband and I to be sure that we are doing okay and gives me practical advice when I'm struggling to understand. I am a better person for knowing Laura, she has truly touched our lives in so many ways and for that I will be forever grateful for her and the Dying to Live Foundation.