Matthew Lazarus died in January, 2012 from an accidental heroin overdose. Since that time, his mother, Chris Lazarus, has made it her mission to raise awareness about the rise in heroin availability and addiction, including among middle-class, suburban youth in Colorado and beyond—a demographic that has previously thought of heroin addiction as an ‘inner city’ problem.
Chris has founded an organization called EPIC (“Every Person Initiates Changes”), with the goal to bring awareness to parents and kids, as well as to provide drug programs for schools to educate students and staff. Through fundraiser run/walks and silent auctions, EPIC has been successful in raising money in Douglas County to hire additional drug counselors, start sobers groups, hold parent educational meetings, and to educate school staff members about signs of potential drug use.
A link to the EPIC website, where you can contribute to Chris’ cause and learn more about it, is here: http://www.matthewlazarus.org/home_page.html
Chris has also shared her story and her efforts in response with Channel 9 news, Channel 4 news, and most recently, Al Jazeera. Links to the Channel 9 and Channel 4 news stories are below (the Al Jazeera link is no longer available through its website):
The Law Offices of JM Reinan, PC is honored to represent Chris Lazarus and Matthew’s father in a lawsuit they have brought related to Matthew’s death against Arapahoe House and two of its employees. Arapahoe House is a Colorado provider of alcohol and drug addiction treatment and detox. The suit alleges claims for Wrongful Death, violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act and Fraud. According to the lawsuit, Matthew Lazarus was in outpatient treatment with Arapahoe House during the several months leading up to his death. The lawsuit further alleges that in the days before his death, Matthew agreed to go to inpatient treatment at Arapahoe House, which was supposed to have been pre-arranged with his primary Arapahoe House therapist, a named Defendant in the lawsuit. When Chris brought Matthew to Arapahoe House for his inpatient admission, the primary therapist was unavailable and had not made the promised pre-arrangements. It is alleged that Matthew was denied inpatient admission and the counselor told 18 year old Matthew that his heroin problem was merely “recreational.” Matthew died at home just a few days later from a heroin overdose.