Chris Bourdeau shares the story of how his brother Matthew died from a heroin overdose, hoping it will save someone else.
"I prayed for my brother to be healed from his addiction to heroin, but he went back to it and he overdosed and he died," Bourdeau said during a recent talk about the power of prayer.
As executive pastor at Stoney Creek Church in Utica, Bourdeau often works with the youth and talks to them about Matthew's addiction.
"When I share Matt's story, I'm not just trying to frighten people, but I hope they are scared, that they see the seriousness in this, that this is real," Bourdeau said. "It ruins your life. You end up in jail or ruin career paths, but it will devastate all the people around you, the people who love you, and are cheering you on in life."
Bourdeau said his brother came to him when he was 19 years old to tell him he was struggling with addiction.
"He wanted to bring me out to breakfast, and he sat me down and confessed that he had crossed the line and did some harder things," Bourdeau said. "He had used cocaine and heroin, and a few other things."
Bourdeau and his wife took Matthew in to help him get clean, under the condition that he would be drug tested regularly. He said Matthew did the work, took the tests, stayed clean, and eventually got his own place.
"He was serious, he really wanted to kick this," Bourdeau said.
Sadly, Matthew relapsed and died of an overdose. Bourdeau had to go to his brother's apartment to identify the body.
"I don't know if it was the first time since he had gotten clean, but it looked like maybe he had done it a couple other times, but this was just a time he couldn't handle it," Bourdeau said. "It was sad."
He has great memories of his brother.
"Matt was a great guy. I mean, everybody loved him. He was real creative, played guitar, drew, we had a lot of similar interests," Bourdeau said.
Six years later, Bourdeau still remembers what heroin did to not only his brother, but his entire family.
"It's one of those things where you wished you had done all this research before, but of course afterwards our whole family got into researching the effect of opioids, and it's true, once somebody becomes addicted, it's like a disease. I mean, a part of your brain and body is malfunctioning," Bourdeau said.
When Bourdeau shares the story of Matthew to the youth at Stoney Creek Church, it’s to keep them from following a similar path and because he wants everyone to stop thinking this opioid crisis is never going to happen to them or their families.
Bourdeau says he teaches young people to live a certain way and avoid drugs in the first place -- to instead pour themselves into better things.
He also wants anyone struggling with addiction to have hope.
"There really is hope to become clean and that's what I've really spent a lot of time (on) ... this can be beaten and can people really overcome? ... Even though I know people like Matt who ruined relationships and even lost their lives to this, I know lots of people that are living in freedom that a lot of people are living clean," Bourdeau said.
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