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Ryan’s Story
Written By His Mom

My name is Louise Aswad Snyder. My home parish is in Niagara Falls, NY. My father is the Very Rev. Fr. George Aswad who resides in Grand Island, NY.

On November 5, 2010, my son Ryan Snyder died from an accidental drug overdose. He was only 21 years old. He was an Orthodox Christian. His drug of choice was heroin. It has become prevalent in suburbs around the United States. Ryan experimented with heroin prior to entering college in September 2008. He entered his freshman year and his addiction escalated in a few short months. It is one of the most highly addictive drugs. I had always talked openly with Ryan about drugs and alcohol. I had always told him I would be there for him in his time of need. On December 26, 2008, Ryan was home on Christmas break. We were preparing to go to Grand Island, as we did every year, to spend quality time with our big, loving family. Ryan called me into his bedroom and told me he had a serious problem. He was addicted to heroin. That moment in time forever altered our lives. For the next two years, Ryan’s father and I did everything we could to try and help our son. Ryan attended many outpatient and inpatient programs. Finally, my sister called and told me she had a calling from God to bring Ryan to her home in Cincinnati. We figured it was worth a try. Ryan attended church in Cincinnati, received confession, and communion. Throughout his addiction, his faith was tested. While in Cincinnati, Ryan did well for a short period of time and then relapsed.

Ryan never gave up. He wanted his life back. So, he made another attempt to get his life back on track. He was clean for a couple of weeks and doing well. However, the addiction plagued his mind night and day. On November 5th, Ryan tried heroin for the last time.

On that day, he had worked ten hours and even bought himself a new phone. Ryan called me around 9:30 that night. He sounded happy. We talked for a few minutes. Ryan had to get off the phone, so we shared our “I love you’s” and hung up. A few short hours later, our phone rang. Ryan had overdosed on heroin. He used and blacked out. Ryan’s heart slowed until it stopped. He was powerless over that drug. It robbed him of his life.

I have learned so much about addiction. It is a disease. Even though my son made the choice to experiment, he never knew at that moment in time that it would destroy his life. It became a battle that was much bigger than him.

We continue to hear many stories from Ryan’s friends about his kind and caring heart and even in his darkest hours, how he was always there for his friends, trying to help them in their darkest hours, even though he struggled to help himself. Ryan did not die in vain. We need to speak out loud about this growing problem with our youth. It is the only way to spread the message and hopefully help young people make healthy choices.

The quotations on Ryan’s memorial card came from Ryan’s senior project called “History in the Making.” In this project, Ryan wrote about all aspects of his life; family and friends, school, religion, and many other parts of his life. We included some of our favorite quotes on his memorial card. This is how we want Ryan to be remembered, for the person he was and not the disease that destroyed his life.

Louise Snyder