Karli Ryann Johnston

Karli Ryann Johnston

Unique, vibrant, hilarious, loving, honest

Karli was a kind, smart, courageous girl, who dressed in funky, colorful outfits with hair to match. She had a passion for animals, preferring to spend time with them over most people. Karli had just graduated from Animal Behavioral College and was starting a dog training business. She already had business cards made. She was passionate about animals living healthy lives. Karli and her dog also had a small business called “Finlee and Me” that made nutritious treats.

Karli loved music, dancing, singing, getting dressed up, and going to concerts. She also loved hula hooping, frequently going to the beach with her dog to hoop. The beach was her happy place, her home away from home. Her sister still sits on the rocks where Karli’s initials are carved to feel closer to her. Karli was her own person and enjoyed doing new things, especially traveling. She was an amazing conversationalist and had a great sense of humor, loving to make people laugh. Her mother recalls laughing at the time that Karli and her grandfather ate all the frosting off her birthday cake before others even had a piece.

Karli and her mother, Candice, were best friends and loved spending time together. They knew that, no matter what, they could always count on each other. Karli showed this special bond after her mother’s husband died; Karli moved back in to help Candice through this challenging time. Karli spent much time with her mother and sister in their salon, helping and organizing. Her mother helped her express herself with creative, colorful hairstyles, almost all of which included her favorite color, blue.

Karli was prescribed Xanax in her teen years to help with anxiety and depression. Without proper mental health care, the doctors took her off her prescription. She started getting the pills from other places. The fake Xanax that she took on New Year’s Eve in 2020 contained enough Fentanyl to kill several grown men. Her mother wants everyone to know that you should only take medicine prescribed to you. With no control over the manufacturing process, there are no safe counterfeit or street drugs today. She estimates that over 25 percent of the fake pills confiscated by law enforcement in 2021 contained deadly amounts of Fentanyl.

What Candice misses most about Karli is her presence and continued support in her life. Karli’s life was cut short, and she wants the world to know that addiction is a disease that does not discriminate and can affect anyone. She says the hardest part of living with someone in active addiction was the lows of depression and seeing your loved one struggle so hard.

Since Karli’s passing, her family members have devoted themselves to telling Karli’s story, trying to help others avoid the devastation felt when you lose a loved one to this epidemic. They speak to the San Diego City Council to increase funding for awareness in public schools, share her story to state legislators in Sacramento lobbying for stricter penalties for those selling this deadly drug, and share information that might save another’s loved one’s life. They feel drawn to honoring her all too short life, hoping that, somehow, she can feel how much they miss and love her. Karli’s family never had a chance to celebrate her recovery, to honor her conquering addiction, because drug dealers didn’t value Karli’s life.

Karli’s mother, Candice Schoen, provided the Information for this narrative

May 12, 1997-January 1, 2021

Age 23-Lived with the disease of addiction for six years.

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