Steven Nijak (left) and Adams Dyczko. Photos provided
Steven Nijak (left) and Adams Dyczko. Photos provided
At 1 a.m. on March 7, inside a Pompano Beach, Fla., apartment, Steven Nijak’s roommate found him lying in the shower with the water running.

There was little doubt about why the 26-year-old Granger native had no pulse. Several small bags of heroin sat nearby, and this was a “sober home,” where groups of heroin-addicted young men live while undergoing outpatient treatment elsewhere.

Five hours later and 19 miles north, in a Delray Beach sober home, 24-year-old Adam Dyczko’s roommate made a similar discovery. Adam, also from the South Bend area, lay on his bedroom floor with no pulse, a syringe sitting 3 feet away.

At both scenes, home operators quickly administered Narcan, the opiate antidote, followed by CPR.

They hoped Adam and Steven wouldn’t become the latest additions to South Florida’s record-breaking opioid death toll, in a crisis that has gripped communities across the country. Both young men had overdosed and been revived many times before.

Geographically, Adam and Steven had been even closer to each other growing up. Steven lived in Granger’s Prairie Lane subdivision, while Adam’s family lived first near Clay High School, then later in the Kestrall Hills subdivision off Redfield Road, bordering the Knollwood Country Club golf course.

At some point they had become Facebook friends, but it was unclear whether they had ever met in person.

The two shared more than just a hometown. Both became addicted to opioid painkillers, and later, switched to the much cheaper and more accessible opiate, heroin. Both were expelled during their senior years, Steven from Penn High School and Adam from St. Joseph High School.

Both were blessed with families who tried everything they could find, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, combined, in desperate attempts to help the young men break free from their addictions. Those efforts took Adam and Steven to Florida at the same time to sober up.

With its sunshine and natural beauty, South Florida, like Phoenix and Orange County, Calif., has become a major treatment destination for millennial-aged heroin and opiate addicts, many of whom are covered under their parents’ health insurance plans.

Steven arrived by plane in March 2016. Adam drove down in December.

For both, the trip to Florida’s scenic beaches culminated a long and tortured struggle, a yearslong roller coaster of sobriety and relapse, hope and despair, as they tried and failed various treatment programs closer to home.

On March 7, their separate but parallel stories converged in the same sad ending, just a few hours apart.

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