Dr Omar Abubaker was shocked when his 20-year-old son Adam came to him and admitted he had a drug problem in November 2013.
He had no idea that the painkillers his son took following a shoulder surgery the previous summer had led to a heroin addiction.
Adam immediately went to rehab after telling his father about his addiction, but a heroin relapse in the fall of 2014 led to a fatal overdose one month after starting college so that he could become a medical technician.
Dr Abubaker's grief led him on a quest to learn more about opioids, the drugs that he prescribed routinely as an oral surgeon - and that killed his youngest son.
In an interview with DailyMail.com, Dr Abubaker explained that he now makes it his mission to warn his patients of the dangers of prescription opioids, using his heartbreaking firsthand experience as an example.
Adam Abubaker (left) died of a heroin overdose in October of 2014. He is pictured here with his father Dr Omar Abubaker shortly before his death
All three of Dr Abubaker's children came to him at one time to talk about Adam's drug abuse problem in their hometown of Richmond, Virginia.
Adam came with his older brother Joseph, 29, and his sister Sarah, 31, to confess to his father that he needed help.
The confession floored Dr Abubaker. He said: 'I was clueless - it was a total shock to me. It was not obvious. He was functional.'
He does not know exactly how his son's addiction began. 'I can't tell you the details because he had not shared that with me when he was going through it,' Dr Abubaker said.
But, in retrospect, Dr Abubaker has been able to piece together what might have happened leading up to his son's death. He suspects that Adam's addiction started after he was prescribed painkillers following a shoulder surgery.
'I vividly remember I didn't like the idea he was prescribed an excessive amount,' he explained. He also remembers finding a bottle of tramadol in his son's belongings.
Still, he did not know his son, who grew up in an affluent family, had a life-threatening disease. 'I had no deep knowledge of the opioid epidemic because it had not affected me directly.'
Even though they suspected Adam was abusing prescription opioids, Sarah and Joseph did not know about the gravity of the situation until they learned their little brother was using heroin.
A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that US hospitals treat more than 100 children addicted to opioids each day.
In 2008, the number of children with these addictions taken to the ER was 32,000, but it jumped by more than 17,000 to 49,626 in 2013.
Researchers are warning that parents need to caution their children about the dangers of trying opioids even once.
America's opioid crisis has killed more than half a million people since 2000.
It has also shaved months of the life expectancy rate in the US.
The increases in deaths related to prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin are the 'biggest driver of the drug overdose epidemic,' according to the CDC.
'When his brother and sister realized it was heroin, they thought, "This is a serious issue",' Dr Abubaker said.
But Adam's family wasted no time in helping him get clean, and he moved into a local rehabilitation facility called the McShin Foundation in December of 2013.
The treatment center helped Adam, and he stayed clean for the better half of 2014. That fall he enrolled in a community college in his hometown, and he was excited to become a medical