Heroin Wasteland (Part 4 of 5): In an exclusive series on New Jersey’s drug abuse epidemic, we we share the stories of two New Jersey mothers who went through numerous trials and tribulations before finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel and saving the lives of their sons.  

Daniel Regan and his mother, Lynn. (Credit: Regan family)

When a teenager or someone in their 20s becomes a heroin addict it can literally destroy a family.

No matter what she did, Lynn Regan of Farmingdale could not reach her son Daniel, who continued to use heroin and crystal meth, and everyone in her family was rattled.

"It was like one eruption then another eruption, and you're juggling trying to help everyone, and you're still trying to make your mortgage and hold your life together.It's like the oxygen was sucked out of the house, but the highest risk was Daniel, and that's where our energy was focused, and the other children suffered greatly," Regan said.

After Daniel completed his thirrd rehab in California, Lynn heard from a friend on the West Coast her son had relapsed, and he was not answering his phone.

"God forced the line in the sand because I couldn't see the line," she said. "All I knew was my son was in trouble."

She got on a plane to California and found Daniel's girlfriend -- who was also using drugs -- and forced her to drive to an abandoned hotel in Palm Springs where she found Daniel, dazed and rail-thin, about to shoot up.

She dragged him out and he "became psychiatric." When police arrived, he punched a police officer, began screaming and spitting, was tazed and was put in a straight-jacket.

"It was the most obscene scene you could ever imagine -- horrific -- and the whole while I decided to start taking pictures of him screaming, crying, because in my head I said you will never forget what you've become," she said.

Daniel was institutionalized for several days because he was incapable of making a rational decision. Finally after a week he began to normalize.

"When they're born you think he'll be a father, maybe a doctor or a lawyer, and then I'm sitting there holding him in a straight jacket," Regan said.

Daniel checked into an holistic rehab facility and something clicked. Afterward, Lynn and her son created a diverse after-care system called CFC Loud N Clear, which is now operating in New Jersey.

Its mission statement reads in part:

The first year after treatment is the most crucial year in someone's recovery. CFC will help guide you through your first year and beyond. CFC Loud N Clear believes in providing many roads to recovery thus giving our members many positive proven options that resonates with them. We also recognized the need for safe sober socialization and create a social calendar filled with fun/ laugh inducing activities. Daniel and Lynn Regan are highly involved in the field of prevention and saw the importance of giving back and preventing others from going down the wrong road. Thus CFC got its name Coming Full Circle, we are proudly more than just a recovery program. CFC provides services for Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery with a seamless integration of the three making it a full circle.

Daniel has been clean for years and is now pursuing a master's degree in social work.

Karen Kupfer of Manalapan, along with her husband and younger son Jake were devastated by her older son Kyle's heroin use.

She said it brought out anxiety, rage and terror because she was scared for her life and the lives of her family members. She was also scared she would someday find Kyle dead in his room, or slumped over the wheel of his car.

Kupfer tried a number of different therapies and rehab programs but nothing ever really worked. Finally, exhausted and at her wits end, she ordered Kyle to get out.

"One of the hardest things I had to do was get him out of the house," she said. "I had to pick him up and then drop him at the bus stop in Freehold, I said you're on your own, you have to do what you have to do. If you have to go into a shelter, you have to find something to do."

He lived in Pennsylvania, then Florida, in North Jersey and in South Jersey,  enrolled in many rehabs and detox facilities

Karen said she learned that "there is a point where you have to say there's just so much that I can do, and if he's going to continue to use, and he ends his life, it's not on me. I just try my best for him but it's his decision."

She stressed as a parent you love your child, and you feel guilty and you want to help, but limits must be set.

Finally, Kyle is on the right track, involved in several different programs and support groups, including CFC Loud N Clear.

In Part 4 of our Heroin Wasteland series, we'll examine what must happen to stop the heroin epidemic in New Jersey.

Click below to view the first story in the “Heroin Wasteland" series: