A methadone overdose killed this West Forsyth student. A scholarship honors his memory.
CLEMMONS — In the ideal world, the one where kids heed warnings about drugs and no parent ever buries a child, Mason Hunter would be battling senioritis in his final semester at West Forsyth High School. In between marathon Xbox sessions with his buddies, he would think about his future, weighing two choices that appealed to him the most: chef or state trooper? Shauna and Brad Hunter would be talking about the best way to support their quick-witted, tenderhearted middle child. It didn’t work out that way.
Early on March 4, 2018, the ideal world was shattered by a scream for help from Mason’s bedroom. A friend spending the night looked over at Mason. He was unresponsive. At some point, the night before he died, someone gave Mason liquid methadone.
The Hunters have been told that Mason thought he was taking cough syrup. “He had a one-time accidental overdose,” Shauna explained. “Mason didn’t do heroin. I mean, he didn’t like to drink. So I don’t know why he thought he needed to do that. But that’s what happened.”
Methadone is a synthetic opiate that is used to relieve pain. It is often used to treat opioid addiction. When taken properly, it can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. After taking the methadone, Mason vomited and became sleepy, the friends told the Hunters the next day. Some time later, he died of an overdose. He was 17. With that one-time, reckless decision, Mason’s story was folded into the national opioid epidemic. Though statistics have not been released for 2018, the number of overdose deaths is expected to rival the more than 70,000 who died in 2017. Of those, 68 percent involved opioids.
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