Dave Baker lost his son Dan in 2011 to a drug overdose. Baker, a small-business owner from Willmar, was elected to the Minnesota House in 2014 and has made addressing the state’s opioid crisis his top priority. This is Dan’s story, told by his father. It has been lightly edited for clarity and space.
“Dan was 25 years old when he passed away on March 9, 2011. Dan got his first opioid for an old sports injury. It was nothing major, a back injury. He was 20 or 21 when he first started taking the pills.
Dave Baker, left, lost his son Dan to a drug overdose in 2011. (Courtesy of Dave Baker)
“The doctor was very upfront with us and clear to Dan that this stuff was highly addictive. We first noticed something was wrong when he was at St. Thomas University and his girlfriend said something was really different with Dan. He wasn’t going to class. We hasn’t leaving his room.
“That was when I first thought, ‘Oh my gosh, he might have a problem.’ We didn’t realize he was doctor shopping. He was making up stories and they were giving him pills left and right. He left school and came back home. He went into treatment.
“When we heard our son had tried heroin for the first time, our lives completely changed. He said: ‘That’s all I can do to feel normal.’
“We thought we could wish it out of him, love it out of him, but you can’t do that.
“He lost his job due to a layoff and came back home to live with us. We found out he was sneaking liquor and we wouldn’t put up with that. We got him back into treatment.
“We weren’t sure he was as committed to treatment as we thought he should be. We let