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A widow from Nevada whose husband died of a fentanyl overdose is shedding light on the harrowing aftermath of drug addiction and how it destroys families.
On 26 February 2023, Britain Tomlin's world shattered when her husband, Jacob Wade, a former Marine Corps rifle expert, died from substance abuse.
"After he passed away, I just wanted to keep quiet about how he lost his life. For a good while, I didn't feel like talking about the details," Britain opened up. "I knew he was into drugs, and I could tell he was struggling. But, I convinced myself that my husband could beat his addiction if given 'space' and 'time' to do it."
At the age of 26, Jacob had already crafted a life brimming with the delights of family. He embraced his role as a devoted husband to Britain and a tender father to their two young children, Walker and Blakely.
"Jacob and I crossed paths through mutual friends back in 2018 after his return from the military. It was like an instant connection, driven by our shared longing for family and close bonds," Britain recounted. "Before we knew it, we were married and embracing the arrival of our precious kids."
Jacob's identity extended beyond being an affectionate spouse and a doting father; he was an aspiring entrepreneur with dreams of establishing his own construction company.
His heart thrived in the great outdoors – fishing, hiking, and dirt biking were his passions. He was passionate about helping others, actively participating in community initiatives like the Good Deed Project, where he contributed his skills to repair homes for needy families.
Jacob possessed a kind and generous spirit, yet he carried a history of drug misuse that originated during his teenage years. It began with marijuana and eventually escalated to fentanyl.
"Throughout our relationship, he put in tremendous effort to break free from his addiction, and there were moments when he believed he had conquered it. But then, he would fall back into old patterns, and the cycle would restart," shared Britain.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, surpasses the potency of heroin by up to 50 times and morphine by 100 times. Even minute doses can lead to fatal outcomes. Tragically, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are responsible for over 150 deaths daily due to overdoses.
"Drug dependency had transformed Jacob into a different version of himself – someone who no longer recognised the person he had become. The actions he took while under the influence haunted him when he was sober, casting a shadow of sadness and self-disappointment," Britain recollected.
"It's so common to think addiction is just a choice. How could the people we love willingly go down that path of using drugs or risking their lives? They have so much to live for, and their choices affect many others. We tend to label those who make such choices as selfish, self-destructive, irresponsible, and reckless. But the truth is that addiction doesn't stick to any specific type. It doesn't care if you're strong or weak, selfless or selfish, kind or heartless. It can hit anyone."
Talking about the day Jacob died, Britain explained their relationship had taken strain, and she had reluctantly moved out with the kids and was temporarily staying with family.
"We exchanged a few quick texts, but then he suddenly stopped responding. With each passing hour, my worry intensified. I asked his parents to check on him while I swiftly got the kids ready and drove back home."
When Jacob's parents arrived, they discovered him unresponsive. It was right then that Britain pulled up in the driveway.
"I couldn't go upstairs as paramedics were still trying to help him. My kids were in the car with our neighbours, witnessing the police, ambulances, and fire trucks gathered around our home. Even today, my daughter, who was just three years old, remembers how her daddy was put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance."
Britain followed the ambulance to the hospital.
"As I arrived, I was guided to a private room and told that Jacob had passed away despite all efforts to save him. I fell apart, dreading how to break the news to our children and his parents. I spent about an hour with him, and before leaving, I took a necklace I had given him and left a bracelet with his mom. I whispered my final words and left, carrying the weight of that heart-wrenching day with me," she shared.
After her husband's death, Britain took to social media as a platform to disseminate a vital message: the evolving nature of drugs demands heightened awareness and understanding.
"Fentanyl robbed us of a wonderful man – a devoted husband, a loving son, and a caring father. I'm determined to raise awareness about the devastating fentanyl and opioid crisis, urging the government to step up its efforts in aiding those grappling with addiction. We need more resources to support individuals battling substance abuse and to assist their families," she emphasised.
"If you know someone struggling, don't wait – take action. Show them kindness and honesty, reach out as soon as possible, and keep checking in. Life's too short to let fear of judgment hold us back. Yes, my grief is always there, heavy and strong. I'll carry Jacob with me wherever I go. But you know what? Despite all that pain, I've found ways to grow and experience real happiness. My life isn't done yet. Jacob's memory lives on, cherished by everyone who loved him."
Featuring: Britain Dente Tomlin, Jacob Wade
When: 28 Sep 2023
Credit: @britain_dente/Cover Images
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