Ambitious, curious, thoughtful. brilliant, intense
With his shaggy hair, welcoming smile, and infectious laugh, Alexander was an active, inquisitive boy. Driven by his interest in the Civil War, the family attended reenactments and, for three years in a row, they went to World War Brick, a Lego enthusiast event. He envisioned himself being a Director for the Smithsonian, where he could pursue his love of history and historical events.
For Alex, video games were a full-body sport. He ran and jumped and broke a sweat portraying his characters. Alexander and his dad, Aaron, played Call of Duty together. His sister, Eden, liked watching him play Assassins Creed. One year the family attended Comic-Con dressed as Assassins. A born entrepreneur, Alexander started an eBay business at 13, where he sold his childhood toys. He drove them to UPS on his bicycle.
Also at 13, Alexander became interested in marijuana. Once he started smoking it, there was a noticeable behavior change. His parents, always open to conversation on any topic, talked with Alex about the long-term effects on the brain and the body. While he listened to their thoughts, he said he used it because it calmed his mind. Alex went for therapy. Twice, Alex had a psychotic break and had to be taken to the hospital. His parents enrolled him in a mood and anxiety program that treated minor substance use disorder.
After treatment, things seemed to go back to normal – he was playing video games, having dinner with the family, and chatting with his dad for two hours every night after his sister and mom went to bed. He seemed better, but there was still a worry that he was using something.
The Sunday prior to his death, Alexander asked for help. He poured his heart out to his parents. He was taking OxyContin. Worried it had a hold on him, he had a plan – he wanted to go back to the treatment house on Wednesday. He said, “I thought these pills would make me happy, I just wanted to experience doing them.” Amy called the treatment facility, and they were to call back with a recommendation. Alex told his friends he was going in for treatment that week. Before that could happen, Alex passed away. “Had he taken a legitimate OxyContin, he would have gotten to treatment,” his mom stated. The Oxy he purchased from a Snapchat dealer was counterfeit and he died from drug poisoning at 14.
“He was my counterpart,” his mom said, “We had a deep connection. He got me; we seemed to know what each other was thinking. He was also my chip and salsa buddy.” Amy now travels the country educating others about fentanyl and drug poisoning. She and Alex’s dad have set up the Alexander Neville Foundation, and Amy also sits on the board of the non-profit VOID. She talks about the dangers of social media as a place where counterfeit pills, which often contain deadly drugs, are sold. “My whole purpose is to make sure people know everything they need to know,” Amy said. “My perception of drugs has changed; it is not a back-alley thing. It is in our kids’ pockets and being normalized. If you don’t know anyone yet, who died of a drug overdose or drug poisoning, you soon will. This is an everybody problem.”
Alexander’s mother, Amy Neville, provided the information for this narrative.
May 4, 2006-June 23, 2020
Age 14-Died from fentanyl poisoning after taking one pill, time of addiction–10 days.