King’s Crusade

This week’s blogger is Sue Harrison, Co-Founder of King’s Crusade, a non-profit organization that aims to save lives and spare families the pain that addiction can bring through awareness and education. Below, Sue shares the story of her brother’s battle with substance use disorder and how she continues to honor his legacy by helping others.



By Sue Harrison

Hello friends, fellow advocates, warriors, survivors. My name is Sue Harrison and I am the co-founder of King’s Crusade, a non-profit organization established in 2017. I am a sister who lost her 49-year-old brother, King, on October 29, 2016. I am the daughter of a mother who lost her only son. I am a survivor.

It started with a broken back at age 29 in 1996 and was the perfect storm coupled with the introduction of OxyContin to the pharmaceutical industry. You know the rest of the story.

I watched my brother battle his addiction with OxyContin for eight years and then in 2004, when the prescriptions ran out and the pills became too expensive, he switched to heroin. That dirty word “heroin.” I’ll never forget the first time I heard it. For some reason at that time, I felt this was the demise, the bottom, the worst. I could barely say it without cringing, “heroin.”

As I have come to learn, it wasn’t. It was the OxyContin that should have scared me as I have since witnessed in the documentary, “Dopesick”. It was the OxyContin that created the monster living inside my brother’s brain that changed how he thought, felt, acted, responded, lived. It took over his essential need for water and food and unconditional love of family and his children and instead told him to turn to “it”. Turn to “it” for love and life. It provided false hope, conditional love and lies.

This lie kept him in its grips for eight years until heroin took hold of him for 12 more until the end.

Fentanyl came around and got involved in this “love/hate relationship”. It made things even better when the heroin stopped working because you see, he built such a tolerance and “plain old” heroin no longer kept him functioning. He admitted to me he sought out fentanyl.

He wasn’t doing it to get high. He was doing it to wake up and function, take a shower, get through his day, have a conversation, be a son, father, brother without being sick and vomiting and shaking and sweating and more thanks to the hold this opiate now had on his body and his brain. Thanks to the OxyContin for pulling the trigger in the first place and creating this physical dependency.

The day finally came. He wanted to change, as he did so many times before. He began a journey of staying sober, abstaining from use – one day at a time. He had no insurance so he was awaiting a bed to get help. He was doing it just for today. Soon he had been sober for 30 days when the facility called and said there was opening. He was told do not tell them he had been sober for 30 days, or they wouldn’t admit him.

This was the okay to go ahead for “Just one more” (but once is too many and a thousand is never enough). That was all it took –  the idea, the thought, the feeling, the memory –  it got him once more and once was proven to be too many.

Sadly, this time, there was no turning back. We lost our loving son, brother, father that night forever. King’s memory and legacy will live on through King’s Crusade forever, giving those struggling another chance to find recovery and hope and connect with others like themselves. It will give their families support and strength to carry on and connect with other families and through this movement, we will heal together.


Notice: This article reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ). This information should not be construed as legal advice from the author or PDFNJ. Please consult your own attorney before making any legal decisions.

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