Submitted by his mother, Deborah Henry
Dan Henry

Who Dan was

Dan was an extremely bighearted guy who gave the best hugs ever! He cherished his friends and had many. His love for animals was never-ending. He could charm animals that were not domesticated. He just loved life.

Dan was determined

The mascot at his high school, Mount Mansfield Union High School, is a cougar, and they named one student Mr. Cougar every year. As part of the competition, Dan had to perform onstage. He stayed up all night the night before to teach himself how to emulate Michael Jackson’s famous moonwalk. And he won! I always wished I had half of the determination he had.

Dan was into bodybuilding

His older brother, David, was a wrestler at Mount Mansfield, but Dan didn’t want to follow in his brother’s footsteps exactly, so he got into bodybuilding — in a big way. He was in the gym an hour and a half to two hours every day. It was such a big part of his life. In 2005, he won the title of Mr. Vermont. He was in a body building magazine. He did compete nationally one time in Chicago. He was also into snowboarding and tae kwon do.

Dan Henry after winning a statewide bodybuilding competition in 2005

How drugs became part of his life

Dan married in August of 2006, and he and his wife moved to Tucson, Ariz. He was determined to keep his marriage together, but they broke up. That’s what led to his addiction. Someone offered him some relief in pill form and he took it, and that was that. It was a slippery slope. It was difficult to know just what was happening, as he lived 2,000 miles from us. He moved back to Vermont in 2011.

How our relationship changed while Dan was struggling with opioid-use disorder

For me, it was a love/hate relationship. I couldn’t understand how a big, powerful personality could get sucked into this disorder.

How Dan fought opioid-use disorder

Dan never sought professional help, as he thought he could handle anything that came his way. And at the time when he was going through this, medically assisted recovery was nearly impossible. Finding a physician who could prescribe suboxone was difficult. He took it for a while, but he was buying it on the street. There weren’t the resources that there are today.

Dan suffered for 10 years before he relapsed and overdosed. Our last conversation was about the upcoming presidential election and the Red Sox going to the World Series.

How I found out about Dan’s overdose

Dan on a poster for a bodybuilding competition

It was in my house. I found him. He OD’d in his bedroom. I couldn’t reach him on the phone, and I came home and found him dead. It was an unpleasant time in my life. That was October 4, 2016.

I’m still very proud of a lot of things Dan accomplished in his short life

He was one of the kindest people I ever knew. He would do anything for anybody. He had a friend who did some time in jail in St. Albans, and he would go on Saturdays to visit him, because he knew his friend didn’t have any visitors. He was an old soul.

If I could say one thing to Dan now, it would be

You promised me you wouldn’t die!

If I could say something to other parents, it would be

My husband and I raised two sons. We supported both of them through high school and four years of college. We got them married off. There were no problems. You sit back, and you think your worries are over. And they’re not. It can happen at any time, to anybody.