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Man dedicated to fighting addiction in McHenry County dies

The Other Side in Crystal Lake hosting community support group

Michael Young (left) and Jason Beaty, both recovered heroin users, freely distributed Evzio, an opioid antidote, Feb. 11, 2016, in Ringwood. Young dedicated his life to helping other opioid addicts. He died Friday.
Michael Young (left) and Jason Beaty, both recovered heroin users, freely distributed Evzio, an opioid antidote, Feb. 11, 2016, in Ringwood. Young dedicated his life to helping other opioid addicts. He died Friday.

A local man dedicated to fighting opioid addiction has died.

Michael Young died Friday, said Chris Reed, his friend and colleague.

“We worked for years together in the recovery community,” said Reed, who is one of the founders of the nonprofit New Directions Addiction Recovery Services. “You don’t come across very many people who you will never meet anyone else like. ... He was a really strong advocate for people in recovery, and probably the most passionate person I ever met.”

In honor of Young’s service, a community support group will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at The Other Side, 93 Berkshire Drive, Crystal Lake. The Other Side is a sober bar and a New Directions program helping connect people in recovery.

Reed said Young helped plan programs at The Other Side, among other things.

Young also served as president of Not One More – Illinois, a charitable organization that helped those dealing with addiction by providing transportation and logistical assistance when they are ready to commit to treatment.

“He had struggles just like everybody else, but he was a strong advocate for people in recovery,” Reed said. “A lot of people are sober or started their path in recovery because of him.”

Young worked as a McHenry County outreach coordinator for A Man in Recovery Foundation, which hands out free naloxone kits to anyone who might need it to save someone who’s overdosing on heroin or other opioids.

“The end is life or death,” Young, a McHenry resident, told the Northwest Herald in 2016. “Before you go, it takes everything away from you, but in the end – in the very end – it takes your life.”

“My prayers go out to Mike Young, who always kept it real. I’ve personally seen this man help many addicts get the help they needed to live a healthy life. RIP, buddy!” McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett posted on Facebook.

Tim Ryan, founder of A Man in Recovery, said Young helped thousands of people.

“I was the one guy who was always there for him and never gave up on him,” Ryan said.

Ryan said he knew Young for five years and was “one of his best friends.”

“His passion was contagious, his care for people was contagious. He was very high-strung, but he would do anything to a fault to help other people,” Ryan said, adding that he spoke to Young almost every day for the past few months. “I loved him unconditionally.”

Longtime friend Jason Beaty said he was inspired by Young.

“I will miss my best friend, my brother, my mentor,” Beaty said. “I will make sure his legacy is not forgotten, as his integrity and reputation will live on through me.”

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