A professional hockey player is dead and his brother has been arrested for third degree sale of a controlled substance.
His hard driving fights punctuated Derek Boogaard’s hockey career during games. He spent five years skating for the Minnesota Wild before becoming a part of the New York Ranger hockey team. At the age of 28 and only a week after leaving substance abuse treatment, Derek was found dead in his apartment. After an autopsy, Derek’s death was ruled an accident due to the mixing of alcohol and oxycodone.
Aaron Boogaard, Derek’s brother, was living with Derek after his return from drug treatment. According to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, Aaron kept Derek’s pills and attempted to “parcel them out on some sort of limited basis.” Aaron admits to giving Derek Percocet prior to an evening of clubbing. The following day, Aaron picked up another brother at the airport. When he returned to the apartment, he found Derek dead on the floor.
According to news reports, Derek had been in treatment more than one time. He obviously had a serious addiction. His brother, Aaron, knew and understood this. Was doling out drugs over to Derek just bad judgment, a misguided attempt by Aaron to control his brother’s addiction, or inability to say “no” to an addict?
Regardless of his motivation, Aaron has committed a felony. He will be prosecuted and receive punishment. I suspect the amount of punishment will not equal the pain he experiences knowing he contributed to his brother’s death.
The grief of this family must be tremendous. Not only is one brother dead, but another brother facilitated his death. Was Aaron involved in his brother’s substance abuse? We don’t know this. However, the loss of yet another professional athlete to drug and alcohol abuse does illustrate the need for a strong aftercare plan involving an addict’s family and friends.
A person with a serious addiction fights an uphill battle when seeking sobriety. Family and friends need to support the addict. Derek Boogaard’s story stands as a cautionary tale for those who have loved ones battling addiction. When enabling another person’s addiction, you are not helping and the consequences can be deadly.