"I can't even look at his pictures": Localizing the effects of a national drug crisis

"I can't even look at his pictures":...

SPOKANE, Wash. - “My son Nathan was an opioid addict, he died just 12 days ago of an overdose,” said Dr. Keith Kadel. 

Dr. Kadel is a cardiologist in the Spokane area. His son Nathan's sudden death at just 28-years-old opened a gaping hole of grief and confusion- the kind every parent hopes they never have to feel. 

“Nathan was as kind as your child or any of your children. he's the same wonderful young person that you see everyday everywhere,” Kadel said. 

According to an obituary published in the Spokesman-Review, Nathan went to Mead High School, where he was a talented trumpet player. He later graduated from Eastern Washington University, where he studied business. 

His father said he and his family did everything they were “supposed to” to help their son- inpatient treatment, counseling- and that Nathan tried hard to fight his addiction. But, it didn't work.

“I'm ashamed I didn’t ever think about learning to live with addiction instead of trying to cure it,” Kadel said. 

President Donald Trump declared a national public health emergency to combat the opioid crisis on Thursday. Dr. Kadel said he's unsure how much this will change things- he, like everyone, knows there is no guaranteed solution. But, he does have ideas. 

“I  don't think we're going to prohibit or enforce our way out of this,” he said. 

So, as the government works to find new ways to fight the opioid epidemic, Dr. Kadel will be working, too. 

“I really intend for this to be something that I devote effort to on behalf of my son,” he said. 

For him- and for tens of thousands of families like his,  a problem that can seem so distant in national headlines is tragically personal. 

“I discovered my son and did CPR on him and it was more awful that you could ever imagine. I can't even look at his pictures,” Kadel said.