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Granite Bay dad went undercover to bust his son’s dealer

A father shares his journey into his son’s prescription drug addiction
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Even two years later, Brad DeHaven has to turn away when he plays videos of his son shaking and writhing in pain as he experiences withdrawals from Oxycontin. Tears still well up in the eyes of the Granite Bay father as he speaks to students about the prescription drug addiction that overtook his son’s life. The unfinished Chevelle sitting in his garage in a posh neighborhood, the 6-foot, 2-inch, 130 pound skeletal body of his 23-year-old and the vacant stare in his son’s eyes were secrets he and his family concealed, quietly hoping things would get better. Eventually, things reached a head and the DeHavens were able to get Brandon professional help. Today, Brandon has about two years of sobriety behind him and a full future ahead of him, but for Brad, educating others about the addiction to drugs that can be found in their medicine cabinet has become a mission. Throughout the journey he has learned that addiction, like any disease, has to be treated by a professional, and families need to know that it’s no longer just the drugs on the street that can entangle them in addiction. “I do show that video at the high school level. I say, ‘I’m going to show you why you will steal from your parents and why you will destroy every relationship you have ever had,’” Brad DeHaven said. “I can’t really look at the video. It pains me greatly to even publically speak about.” To save his son from incarceration, and his wife from having to visit her son in prison, DeHaven went undercover to lead police to his son’s dealer. Posing as a man selling his Oxycontin prescription for $2,500 to a dealer, he sat wired up in a prestigious Roseville shopping center, waiting for the deal to go down. The possibility of him getting shot at or hurt was something he was trained to be prepared for. The first time he tried to go undercover, the deal got called off. The second attempt was a success and kept his son out of jail. That was just the start of Brandon’s recovery, though. Intense withdrawals and months in rehab followed. To process the flood of emotions that came from the experiences, Brad began to write about his journey into his son’s Oxycontin addiction. Those writings later became a book called “Defining Moments.” “I want people to know that are in the throws of addiction that they are not alone. They need to know that they need to seek professional help,” Brad DeHaven said. “It was our dirty little secret. I grew up with a brother that went to prison for cocaine distribution. I thought the last thing in the world that would happen to me was that I would have a son that was an addict.” Brad, like many Placer County parents, tried to give his family the best life possible. He coached his sons’ sports teams, tried to connect with their hobbies and provided a safe home for them in Granite Bay. From some experimentation of his own as a young adult, he knew about drugs and what to look for. He later learned that his son got his first appetite for prescription drugs after a doctor prescribed them when he fell off of a trampoline. “It started out very simply. He broke his arm jumping on a trampoline. The doctor gave him Vicodin,” DeHaven said. “We would later find out then when that bottle of Vicodin was empty he had an appetite for it.” Brad said in retrospect he has learned that some of his actions, like going undercover, may have enabled his son, but is grateful that today his son is healthy, working and clean. “Without him hitting that bottom he might be dead. We are blessed that we are able to put our arms around this healthy 195-pound man. We are proud he is a waiter,” DeHaven said. “He is healthy. He has been clean for 19 months. He hasn’t missed a day (of work) since he started.” Dehaven is also passionate about educating people to lock up their prescription drugs in a drug safe or other secured box. He said he is grateful because in his work he has met many parents that can only visit the gravesite or prison cell of a child who was addicted to prescription drugs. “The irony is in the end the addict doesn’t take the drug to get high they take the drug to maintain,” DeHaven said. “They take the drug to not feel, when they started to take the drugs to feel.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.