Founders, Stephen and Alecia Roberts
My husband, Stephen and I lost our daughter, Heather at the age of 25 to a lethal dose of heroin, fentanyl, morphine and cocaine on October 7, 2015. She died in a gated community in Hope Mills, NC when those who watched her overdose refused to call 911 for hours, making the conscious and willful choice to allow her to die by refusing to render aid to her.
Heather suffered from Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Depression. Heather was deemed mentally disabled at the age of 18 due to her diagnoses. I attempted to have Heather’s Psychiatrist deem her mentally incapacitated in order to maintain guardianship and control of her medical care. However, he refused because regardless of her disability Heather was an extremely intelligent person. Intelligence has nothing to do with mental illness.
At the age of 18 Heather was suddenly expected to function independently in a world she was incapable of functioning in the day before. Due to her mental illness, Heather was a victim of sex trafficking and addiction. She was recruited into the sex trafficking trade right from the Cumberland County Detention Center; a place we felt she was most safe under the circumstances.
I tried on multiple occasions to get Heather, who wanted help into a treatment center. However, I could not locate a facility that would accept Heather’s insurance or was told they wouldn’t accept Heather because they were not a dual diagnosis facility.
I’m passionate about mental health and substance use disorder treatment reforms that will provide better access to treatment because Heather was failed miserably by both.
I am also very passionate about holding dealers accountable for their actions by enforcing G.S. 14-17(b)(2), a North Carolina Law which states a person who provides drugs illegally to an individual who dies from consuming those drugs shall be guilty of Second Degree Murder.
As a result of the circumstances surrounding Heather’s death, I met with Representative Frank Iler who has sponsored HB785 which will be known as Heather’s Law when it’s passed. Heather’s Law will make it a crime to refuse to render aid to an individual who is in need of emergency medical assistance.
My husband and I live in Brunswick County where we are raising Heather’s son.
There was a time not too long ago when nothing made sense and I honestly began to question my sanity while grieving the loss of my daughter and being required to fight so hard for justice in a society and judicial system that blames the victims of overdose deaths. I realized I was not alone as isolated as I felt at the time. The truth is there are so many other parents out there questioning their sanity too as they grieve their loss and fight for justice.
I realized in order for us to confront the opioid crisis our state is facing we were going to have to unite and work together for reforms, to educate others to end stigma, to establish more effective and easily accessible treatment options, and demand those within the judicial system begin to recognize the fact that overdose victims are in fact, victims of a crime, in order to prevent other parents from having to fight so hard for justice while grieving their loss. It is my hope and desire that through this process we will change our society and save lives. At that point God began building the coalition by introducing me to people whose hearts were in a specific area which matched our platform perfectly. For that I am very grateful. I look forward to seeing how God moves through us and all that will be accomplished.