Gentle, thoughtful, intelligent, loving
Ben was the youngest of four children and the classic “baby of the family,” according to his mother, Karen. He was 6’4”, 220 pounds, handsome, gentle, intelligent, and fun-loving. He adored his older brothers and sister. His closest bond was with his oldest brother, Michael. He was a hero to Ben. He was smart, kind, and a loving role model. When Michael was a senior in high school, he struggled with depression, which led him to self-medicate with drugs and eventually become addicted. He committed suicide at 20 when Ben was 11. Michael’s death profoundly affected the family, all grieving in individual ways. Ben had promised Mike he would never use drugs, but could not keep that promise.
Ben was a fabulous soccer goalkeeper, good enough to get a scholarship if addiction had not been a factor. He loved children, animals, music, cooking, and fitness. He was self-educated in history and current events and could converse with anyone. Ben had an innate ability and instinct about training dogs and rescued several. Foxy, Ben’s dog, still lives with the family.
One career option Ben was considering was cooking. He trained at an academy to become a chef. He also worked at a pet boarding facility, and more recently, for a maintenance contractor. His boss was planning to promote him to a supervisory position. The year before his death, Ben became interested in physical fitness and was studying to become a personal trainer. Despite his large size, Ben could easily handle a tiny baby, and he looked forward to becoming a husband and father. His mother stated,” At the time of his death Ben had a three-year-old daughter Makayla, but he didn’t know he was her father.”
Treatment centers were an ongoing part of life for Ben. For the last five years of his life, he fought hard to be sober and made some strides. He realized addiction had stolen parts of his life and career choices and was determined to do better. After his last time in treatment, he restored relationships with his siblings, Matt and Becky, and his parents, John, and Karen.
At the time he passed, things were going well for Ben. He had been sober for some time, was in a sober living house, had a job, and was being promoted soon. He got sick with the flu and “for whatever reason, medicated himself to feel better,” his mom stated. The autopsy confirmed he had a small amount of cocaine in his system, but it was enough to take his life.”
Ben’s mom said having a child with substance use disorder was never something she expected to happen. “The kids were raised in the church, taught right from wrong and good from evil,” Karen said. “Both Mike and Ben were happy, well-adjusted, brilliant young men. Addiction stole their happiness and their lives and left a haunting sorrow.”
Since her experiences with Ben and Michael, Karen is often moved to compassion when seeing homeless people or those with mental health issues or substance use disorder. She thinks about those left behind, struggling with grief. She stated, “I believe that the only One who heals these hurts, both those with SUD and mine, is the Healer, Jesus Christ.”
Ben’s mother, Karen Campbell, provided the information for this narrative.
April 1, 1988-March 11, 2015
Age 25-Lived with the disease of addiction for 11 years.