(CBS) — Suburban mother of three Shannon Ryan recorded cell phone video to document her son Nick Ryan’s heroin addiction.
The video shows him slurring his words, and staggering through the family’s home slumped over. The 20-year-old got hooked on the drug by his father Tim Ryan who can also be seen on video doped up and sitting motionless on a couch in what was once their Oswego family home.
“It’s a horrible thing to see,” says Shannon Ryan, who took the cell phone video hoping that by seeing it, Tim and Nick would get sober, but it didn’t help Nick who died of an overdose last August.
“It tore me apart into a thousand pieces, took my breath right out me I felt my soul die inside,” said an emotional Shannon Ryan, “No parent should have to go through that.”
“All that lady (Shannon Ryan) wanted was a good husband, some kids and a little place to call her own and I took all that away and then set the path for my son,” said Tim Ryan who eventually got clean and now devotes his life to running support groups to help other addicts like Adam Silvers, who was Nick Ryan’s best friend.
Silvers says he was 17 when he first tried heroin and once again it was Tim Ryan who got him addicted by giving him the drug.
“It was almost every day for months,” says Silvers would make drug runs to Chicago’s West Side in a car with Tim and Nick Ryan.
Their habit broke them all financially, especially Tim Ryan, who says he mortgaged his home and eventually lost his job.
“I’d come down and buy 400, 500 dollars’ worth a day,” he said.
Tim Ryan says he was such a good heroin customer dealers would let him buy his drugs on credit as long as he paid by the end of the week.
Adam Silvers says if he didn’t show up to buy heroin for a day or two the dealers would call his cell phone enticing him with discounts. Silvers is now sober and in recovery and living and working with Tim Ryan’s support groups.
The two recovering addicts know they can’t bring Nick Ryan back, but they say they are on a mission to save the lives of others.
Part of their effort involves telling students the detailed story of their addiction.
They recently visited the Chicago alley where they used to buy the majority of their drugs. Empty heroin bags and used syringes are scattered across the alley is evidence that they say shows the demand is as high as ever.
Tim Ryan got emotional when he saw all the discarded paraphernalia and said, “It sickens me to see where I am at to see what we caused here just brings back hellish memories.”
Shannon Ryan divorced Tim Ryan a year before her son was pronounced dead on a hospital gurney. She says she still blames him for her son’s death.
“I’m not going to lie to you I wish it was Tim there instead of Nick,” she says.
Shannon and Tim Ryan do share a common ground: They both want their tragic story of a family destroyed by heroin to be a warning for others thinking about using heroin.
“I hope it helps somebody,” says Shannon Ryan.
Tim Ryan speaks at schools and meets with families and runs a not for profit organization called “A Man In Recovery Foundation.” He says they focus on saving lives and helping people find treatment centers.
In December 2015, Silvers died from a heroin overdose in Naperville after being clean for 18 months.
For more information on Tim Ryan’s group, visit www.amaninrecovery.org.