Rafael Gonzalez (Rafa)

Rafael Gonzalez (Rafa)

Loving, funny, kind, honest, strong

Rafael was a sweet kid, loved by everyone, especially his father Rafael Gonzalez Sr. who was his first best friend, and his two older sisters Brianna and Rebecca. As a child, he was diagnosed with ADD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder and was prescribed medication by his pediatricians. Rafael never liked the way they made him feel, so as a teenager he stopped taking them.

Perhaps it was his strange relationship with medication that led him to be interested in natural medicines and the use of psychedelics for the treatment of mental health disorders as a teenager. He loved plant-based medicine and worked at a nursery taking care of plants. He was passionate about healthy eating, music, and weightlifting. One of his biggest accomplishments in life was his commitment to getting fit and motivating others to do the same. Rafa was a kind soul who always wanted to help others who were struggling.

Rafa suffered a knee injury at 15 and a car accident at 17. His body was never pain-free after that. Despite the injuries, his dream in life was to pursue a career as a UFC fighter once he made a full recovery. The day Rafa passed, he was scheduled for a second knee surgery.

Rafa was close with his family, especially his mother. They were each other’s people and were very open with each other. Rafa always told her how much he loved her. One of Rafa’s and his mother Araceli’s best memories together is of the time they went on vacation to Mexico. Rafa loved the outdoors and doing anything active, and he enjoyed his annual camping trips with his family. He was well-liked by many people and loved spending time with his friends, hiking, and hanging out on the beach.

Rafa’s addiction to alcohol started around the age of 12 when he began sneaking beers into his room at night. At 14, he began smoking marijuana and drinking liquor. When his mother became aware she grounded him. This led him to finding leftover prescription pills around the house, which he then started misusing. As soon as Rafa turned 18 he checked into a rehabilitation center for two months, but he died from a fentanyl overdose a week after graduating. Rafa was in active addiction to Xanax and marijuana when he passed. While in treatment, Rafa completed his high school education and received his diploma, but he was not physically able to attend his graduation. He was buried in his graduation gown.

Araceli reflects that the most difficult part of watching her son go through addiction was the pain it caused him in withdrawals since he always wanted to do it without medical aid or supervision. She misses his warm hugs and the way he smiled and told her good morning and good night every day. Since her son’s passing, Araceli started an Instagram page to share Rafa’s story and help other mothers learn how to spot the signs of addiction early on. She admits she was not aware of those signs until Rafa began experiencing active addiction. She says her Instagram page has been a blessing on her journey through grief and spirituality.

Rafa’s mother, Araceli Gonzalez, provided the information for this narrative.

March 26, 2003 – June 18, 2021

Age 18-Lived with the disease of addiction one year.

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