The bereaved family of a promising young Georgia student whose life was cut tragically short due to a heroin overdose has come forward to talk about their heartbreak and the beautiful woman’s legacy a year after her death.
Elizabeth Turner was a gifted athlete, scholar and the best daughter a mother could have asked for but her all-American looks and attitude were helping hide a deadly secret.
‘She was perfect,’ said her mother Teresa Turner.
Or at least that’s how the popular young woman appeared.
Her mother recounts to the Marietta Daily Journal what a shock it was when it all came out in the wash that their squeaky clean little girl began experimenting with hard drugs at just 16 years old.
Elizabeth kept her grades up and never got home past curfew.
However, unbeknownst to most of the world she was spending here weekends taking prescription drugs, marijuana and drinking alcohol.
‘She hid it very well. She fooled a lot of us,’ said her sister Jennifer Echolf.
Elizabeth enrolled at Auburn University in 2006 but her partying quickly took its toll on her grades. For the first time in her life, Teresa Turner’s daughter was failing classes and by the end of her first year away at college had a full on OxyContin addiction.
The Turners pulled Elizabeth from college and began a struggle to keep her clean that lasted for six arduous years.
According to her family, sixteen of Elizabeth’s friends died during those years.
However, there were periods when the future appeared bright for Elizabeth.
She enrolled in classes and even received a scholarship from Kennesaw State University.
She would later receive a dental assitance certificate from another area school.
At the time of her death, Elizabeth was waiting tables full time at an Italian restaurant, interning at a dental office and even attending regular addiction meetings.
She left home to go to one such meeting on February 8, 2012 and never returned.
She overdosed at a friend’s house and was declared brain dead three days later.
‘She was the all-American child, but she walked into something and never looked back,’ Echolf said.
And according to area officials, Elizabeth’s story has become increasingly common.
‘It’s on the rise,’ said Mike Gerhard with the Medical Examiner’s office of Cobb County, where 84 people died of heroin overdose in 2013, up from 50 people the year before.
As a way to cope with her own loss and to give others an outlet for dealing with their grief, Elizabeth’s sister-in-law Shanon Turner created the website and accompanying Facebook page No Heroin in Heaven.
The site links to resources for those struggling with addiction. She started it just last month, but it has already drawn hundreds of thousands of comments from users who’ve lost loved ones to drugs.
In mere weeks, the site had gained a visits.
‘It just blew up,’ Turner said. ‘We were absolutely shocked because not only is everyone being supported, this has built a community. It has become a full-time job. We are just one story. Together, everyone’s advice can help the community.’ Article Link…