Wicomico Goes Purple: Mom fights substance abuse

Karen Dolch: “I’m the mom of a child who died of this disease and I will do anything to get through to people,” she said. “I will do anything to raise awareness.”

When he was just 29 years old, Chad Book lost his battle with addiction. 

Now, his mother, Karen Dolch, tells his story whenever she can with hopes she’ll prevent another parent from enduring the same tragic loss.

“I’m the mom of a child who died of this disease and I will do anything to get through to people,” she said. “I will do anything to raise awareness.”

An Iraq War veteran, Book was fearless — a warrior who was proud to serve his country and always gave his all.

When he returned home from the U.S. Army in 2008, Dolch said he struggled to find his way. He worked in retail, security, sold insurance — whatever he could do to make ends meet.

He ended up getting involved with the wrong crowd. He was dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and someone told him heroin would help.

“He battled addiction on and off, but after four years his life was finally coming together,” Dolch said. “He had a good job, his bills were paid and he was looking forward to the holidays with his family.”

Christmas never came that year. Chad was found in his apartment on Dec. 17 — a victim to heroin.

“We were absolutely devastated. It put us all in a state of shock,” Dolch said. “We always walked around fearing that’s how he would die when he was using, but we didn’t know he was using.”

In the weeks after his death, Dolch joined a support group and has since received tremendous love and support.

“We still go to dinner and help each other,” she said. “I don’t know where we would be without that. It helped so much.”

If you suspect a loved one is facing addiction, Dolch has some advice: “Do all you can for them. Be supportive and get help. Even when you think they’re doing well, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are.”

If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction, the Wicomico County Health Department can help. Call 410-749-1244 to speak with a counselor or learn about support groups.

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