Addicted Part 1: Family of Chase Fliginger talks of addiction battle
FARGO -- Talk to anyone who struggles with addiction. It is an evil grip that not only affects the individual, but also family and friends. In the last few months, dozens of families in our area have buried their children as an opiate crisis swee...
[ See part two of this special reporting series here .]
FARGO - Talk to anyone who struggles with addiction. It is an evil grip that not only affects the individual, but also family and friends.
In the last few months, dozens of families in our area have buried their children as an opiate crisis sweeps the valley.
This is the story of one south Fargo family and the tragedy that addiction left them with today.
Chase Fliginger was the kind of kid every neighborhood loved to have.
"He was the most outgoing, carefree. He did not look at anybody in a bad way," said his sister, Daysha Fliginger.
"What did he say, 'Don't let stupid things bother you,' meaning there are more important things like kindness and generosity and making people feel good rather than being judgmental," said his mom, Sue Fliginger.
""No matter how hard it was, he could make people laugh," Daysha said. "He could talk to people so easily."
But in his late teens, Chase started using. Like many with addictions, he hid it well.
"He would tell me, 'I cannot control it,' because seriously we did not know how serious it was," Sue said.
"He was well aware he had a problem, and knew he wanted to stop it, but it took over him," Daysha said.
Sue thinks she missed the big picture because she was so focused on getting him well.
"He had so many dreams and things he wanted to do," she said. "He could have done anything he wanted to."
Chase came from a tight-knit family. Daysha and Sue were two of his biggest fans, and they worked to get him help by choosing some of the best treatment centers in the country. But the addiction had an incredible hold on the 20-year-old.
One time he told his mom he didn't think he would ever be cured.
Sue was in India on business in October when she got the call from an emergency room nurse.
"I said put the phone next to his ear, and I was screaming, 'Nothing better happen to you,' Sue said. "I said, 'Hang in there, I will be there.' "
Chase had fatally overdosed.
"You are looking at him, like he was sleeping, you are not fully processing anything," Daysha said. "And it was so raw, raw pain. Unlike anything I have ever felt."
The days following Chase's death are somewhat of a blur; friends and family all wishing they could have done more.
Just months after his death, Chase leaves behind those who not only grieve his loss, but are fighting to save others.
"He would say, 'It is so hard mom. I just want to go back to our blue house and blanket and watch Tom and Jerry,' " Sue said. "He just wanted to feel safe. He didn't want to feel safe anymore. It was beyond his control.
"I miss him a lot."
Prevention and Intervention
The Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Addiction is the biggest undertaking the metro area has waged in its war on addiction. Experts from prevention and intervention are joining those with treatment and law enforcement experience.
They hope to tackle issues families like the Fliginers face in dealing with addiction; the red tape of insurance, deductibles, space available, wait times and cost.
"The problem is, people don't know how to access it and they can't access it in a timely fashion," said Mike Kaspari, co-founder of First Step Recovery.
Kaspari has been working with addicts for 23 years. He supports a navigator program to help those addicted get the right help at the right place.
"That is one of the focuses of our prevention group, is to do community education because you cannot fight a problem you don't understand or don't think is there," he said.