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For One Lacey Family, A Bittersweet Graduation Day

For the Capone family, one son is graduating and onto college, while another died this week of a heroin overdose

Garrett Capone (Family Photo)
Garrett Capone (Family Photo)
Candace Capone will be at Lacey High School Friday night, cheering on her son, Garrett, who is graduating with plans to head to college this fall.

Then, she will continue planning funeral services for her 19-year-old son, Michael.

Michael, who would have turned 20 in August, died Tuesday of a heroin overdose after years of battling addiction. Candace fought hard as well, doing everything she could to try to get her son to quit.

She didn't talk about it too much, for fear she would face the brutality of the name calling and hopeless stereotypes that are often hurled at parents like her.

There's "scumbag," "white trash," and an endless supply of others, she said. And apparently, the name calling doesn't even stop after an addict is dead.

"A few days ago, someone wrote on my son’s Facebook wall, ‘You’re a junkie and you got what you deserved,'" she said on Friday, a day after she sat down at her computer and wrote an article for Patch about her son, and how he became the latest, young Ocean County resident to have his life cut short after becoming addicted to heroin.

Now, she says, she wants to share her story and encourage others to talk about addiction – something she was afraid to do while her son was still alive.

"Every single family has the same, exact story and nobody wants to admit it or talk about it because we’re called 'scumbags,' " she said. "I’m afraid to tell people because they think birds of a feather flock together."

For Michael, it started with marijuana. Later he turned to Oxycodone pills. Then came heroin.

"It's only five dollars a bag," Candace said, cheaper than illicitly obtained prescription drugs.

But those who know addiction know the Capone family was, and is, like many others – a typical middle class family, until the rug is swept out from under them.

Michael was a star wrestler who loved fishing and skateboarding. He did well in school and had plenty of friends and family members who loved him. Even after he was addicted to heroin and being sought by the police, people were able to see the kind person he was below the surface.

"The police found him and he was hungry after not eating for days," Candace said. "They said he was such a nice kid that they took him to lunch before arresting him."

The Lacey community was supportive, too.

"Lacey High School’s counseling department has been incredible to my son and I, and so has the police department and the Ocean County prosecutor," she said. "They did everything they could to save my son’s life. They all went out of their way."

Lacey police officers were always respectful, professional and helpful, Candace said. The prosecutor's office helped make arrangements to place Michael in rehab, but he escaped and fled for days before the police found him.

With Garrett Capone graduating Friday night, Candace has some hope. The high school's guidance department not only tried to help Michael, but helped Garrett tremendously and guided him away from his brother's path.

He now has a job working for a Stafford Township police officer who runs a small video game business on the side and considers the officer his hero.

Garrett will be attending Ocean County College in the fall and hopes to become a police officer himself.

"Without [Lacey High School's] counseling of Garrett, he would not be graduating today," his mother said.

"Tonight, it’s going to be about Garrett, and that’s what we’re focusing on," said Candace.

Then, after all is said and done, family members will look back on happier times with Michael, before the drugs took over. The kid who smiled at catching a big fish, and even through the fog of drugs, still had the occasion to charm those he met.

"That was Michael," Candace said.
MCber June 23, 2014 at 12:13 PM
Many congratulations to Garrett. I too have a son with that same name and unfortunately he is like your son Michael. Currently he is using Heroin and Meth but will be undergoing "Ibogaine" treatment next Monday the 30th in Mexico. If you don't know about this treatment please look it up. After trying 3 rehabs and it not working we are trying something else. We have been in contact with several people who have done this and say it has made a profound difference in their lives. It is not available in the United States, banned in the 60's but has been used ever since in different countries, all but 2. Keep your family close to you and yes, I agree with getting between the drugs and your kid....sometimes it is impossible but as parents don't ever quit. Look for a Mama's and Papa's al anon group where you live, this was the most beneficial to us as it is parents of addicts and alcoholics. We have a different dynamic than other siblings and extended family....we don't easily throw our kids away. Good job Garrett.....stay focused and make your life what your brother would want you to make it.
Sondra June 23, 2014 at 01:02 PM
Congrats to Garrett for his graduation and life goals! It is hard being a sibling and son in a family plagued by addiction. Your family, in particular you Candace, are strong and have provided an unconditional and unspoken foundation of love, faith, acceptance and bravery. All things things are tenfold especially when you feel at your wits end and hopeless. I will pray for you all. And thank you from the depths of my heart and soul for sharing your story. God Bless!
jeff lentz sr June 23, 2014 at 01:27 PM
First, CONGRATS on your son graduating !!! Second, I AM SO SORRY !!! I have lost also, drugs are beyond what we can deal with or comprehend. Please, do not listen to people who do not understand. Im sure you did your best. I hope and pray that there is a "better place", and Im sure your son is there !
Kary Harrison July 16, 2014 at 02:26 PM
My son, just went into rehab yesterday for a heroin addiction. I had to get a restraining order from him from his violent destructive behavior. He was stealing, breaking things, and threatening me. I love him but cannot any longer support him in my home. I hope rehab works for him, and he gets the help he needs and hope that I do not have to bury him.

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