Colorado man’s opioid addiction was hiding in plain sight

DENVER -- The opioid crisis facing the nation continues to grow and doctors say the signs of addiction can be easy to miss. One family from Colorado said they had no idea their son had a serious problem.

Adam Winter Jr. was doing well in school, had a good job and seemed fine. It wasn't like his personal demons hadn't already shown themselves in his young life; he'd struggled with depression as a teenager..

Winter graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder in May 2015 as a Phi Beta Kappa. He said he wanted to be a doctor.

Winter's sister, Sarah Winter, was enrolled at CU at the same time, and while she was impressed with her big brother's smarts and accomplishments, she also took note of his recreational drug use.

"It was because he excelled in school," Sarah Winter said. "Like he graduated with a 3.9 GPA and did well on the MCAT. It was easy to dismiss as a recreational thing with friends."

Adam Winter and his parents had many discussions at home about alcohol and drug abuse. They came away feeling Adam knew the pitfalls. Maybe he did, but it didn't stop him.

The smartest guy in the room was hiding his opioid abuse in plain sight. He had everyone, including himself, fooled about the potentially deadly consequences.

After a pleasant December evening with his family at home, everyone went to bed. That's what his parents remembered, but Sarah Winter saw something else.

"The night before he died, I saw him do it," Sarah Winter said. "I expressed concern. And I was kind of scared then. But then again, I didn't realize the extent. Until after he died."

The next morning, Adam's family found him dead in his room.

"And he didn't get up for his work shift. And we went down and found him," his mom, Melissa Winter, said. "Just as he loved music. He was sitting with his earbuds, with his computer in front of him. He had just fallen over just like that. Instantly gone."