Daniel “Elijah” Figueroa

Age: 20 | State: | County: Los Angeles | Case Status: Open

Daniel Elijah Figueroa

Fentanyl is an ominous word. The media broadcasts it in connection to the opioid crisis. It sounds nefarious but it still seems distant. Until it becomes personal.

My son Daniel had a heart of gold. He had dreams, big dreams.  He wanted to become a businessman with goals to fund world missions.  His desire was to help others who struggled and hoped they would come to know the love of God.

My son was raised in Los Alamitos CA, where he attended school and excelled in academics and sports. He loved basketball, composing music, and singing. During my son’s junior year in high school, I noticed a change in his mood.  He seemed withdrawn and appeared to lose interest in all the things he once enjoyed. He struggled with anxiety and insomnia and I was at a loss to help him.  So, I took him to a psychiatrist and, shortly after, he began regular visits to a therapist. At 17, he was prescribed medication to help with anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Daniel did not like the idea of taking pills and was concerned with the social stigma that accompanied it. But after a few months, he started to improve, and the doctor suggested taking him off the medication to see how he did.  My son was thrilled. However, after a few months, the symptoms returned, worse than ever. But he didn’t want to see the therapist again. He’d say, “I’m not crazy, Mom. Please stop trying to force this.”

But Daniel continued to struggle and eventually turned to marijuana. He said it helped him sleep. But I couldn’t allow this kind of self-medicating behavior in our home and warned him I would know because of the smell.

While competing in track and field, he met kids who were open about taking Xanax. Xanax use was popularized in music and it was easily accessible in our Rossmoor community. Things that were once stigmatized had become popular through the culture and became a youngster pastime. My son actually shared with me his thoughts on the practice. He thought Xanax was ok. He said it mellowed him out and besides, he wasn’t hurting anyone. He thought it was safe because his doctor had once prescribed it and he could finally sleep at night.

But he became addicted. It caught us off guard, how fast he became addicted. Daniel agreed to get help. During this treatment, the therapist found the root cause of his pain. My son revealed that he had been abused by a trusted paternal family member. The man is a teacher and professor, but Daniel decided not to confront his perpetrator at this time. His goal was to heal and strengthen his relationship with God.  I respected his decision but privately hoped justice would be served one day.

My son completed his treatment program in July 2020, and despite fear of Covid, he found a job and pursued college. He was doing well, and I was so proud of him.  He started complaining about insomnia again and reached out to his doctor for help. Because of his prior addiction, the doctor was reluctant to prescribe medication and encouraged him to try the holistic approach. He tried exercise, relaxing music, and meditation.  Nothing seemed to work.

On Snapchat, he was referred by a friend to a young man who was selling what appeared to be pharmaceutical grade pain medications. On September 15th, my son asked to buy what he thought was prescription-grade Percocet. It was not. It was pure fentanyl, a lethal dose.  My beautiful son died that night.  He was deceived by someone who seemed trustworthy. One pill killed him. And this dealer, this middle-class OC resident, walks free.

Fentanyl seems distant till it becomes personal and it kills.

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