Dean Ryan Cox

Dean Ryan Cox

Loving, kind, energetic, honest, mischievous

Dean was a cool kid with a floppy beach haircut and a loving and somewhat mischievous personality. He loved being outdoors; fishing, skateboarding, biking, playing soccer and training his dog Cody. He also loved elderly people and kids and was kind and thoughtful in his interactions with them.

Dean was a hard worker, very mechanically inclined, competitive and a perfectionist, as evidenced by his always-tidy bedroom and desire to do projects perfectly the first time. Dean did yard work and painting for his neighbors, just to help them out when he saw they might need it. His most recent job was in guest services at Firebirds restaurant where he was well liked and lauded for his strong work ethic, politeness and professionalism.

Dean was able to get good grades, finish high school and earn his diploma. He was inventive and liked working with his hands fixing and building things, such as a stand-on, handle driven, motorized scooter than he fashioned from a skateboard. He considered going to Wake Technical Community College to complete coursework in a trade and eventually wanted to get married and have a family. Unfortunately his substance use prevented him from reaching many of the dreams he had for himself.

As Dean became more involved with drug use, he became less interested in being with the family. He would show up late for family gatherings or not at all. He would sleep a lot and stay out late or not come home for days at a time. He became angry and irritable; certainly not the easy, loving, funny and somewhat shy Dean his family knew.

His mother, Terry said: “In the beginning I was in denial of anything being seriously wrong, or even that it was happening at all.” Like many parents, she thought it might go away, that it was just a phase, but his substance use got worse. Dean’s parents have since learned a lot about substance use disorder and what can happen when people take that first drink, smoke, vape or pill.

His parents attend a support group and share their story in hopes of helping others. They say that their spiritual growth and relationship with God has sustained them. Terry goes on to say, ” Dean dying from drugs was the worst event in our lives. When our family is together, one of us might mention a memory of Dean and that feels good, but our family will never be whole again.”

Dean’s parents, Paul and Terry Cox, provided the information for this narrative.

April 29, 1988 – January 5, 2008
Age 19- Lived with addiction 4 years

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