Family Finds Peace After Drug Addiction Tragedy
JEFFERSON CITY - Heroin is taking the streets of Jefferson City by storm, according to local law enforcement, and has steadily rooted itself in the lives of many residents for the past year and a half.
Chief Deputy John Wheeler of the Cole County Sheriff's Department said, "Heroin is more predominant now than it was before, that's for sure."
From August 2012 to February 2014, the sheriff's department responded to five heroin overdose calls, two of which were fatal. During that same time frame, the Cole County EMS reponded to 123 overdoses and administered Narcan in all the cases. Narcan is a drug to counteract the effects of heroin.
Wheeler said, "The problem we have is whenever we respond to an overdose, sometimes we don't know it's heroin unless we get cooperation. For that reason we know out of the five that we've had it is under reported."
One Jefferson City couple knows all to well the reality of heroin overdose.
Troy and Carole Jones are recovering drug addicts who started using in their early teenage years, and fought their addictions for more than a decade. After many years of lying, cheating, stealing, and even losing their children to the state, the Jones said they had nothing left. Help came their way when the couple was staying at a homeless shelter.
"A worker at the shelter asked, 'Do you do drugs?' and I was expecting Troy to say 'No, of course not,' because we thought it was a big secret. And he said, 'Yeah, yeah we knew. Do you want help?' and Troy said, 'Yeah, we want help'."
The couple went through a 12 step fellowship treatment program in Columbia for six months. During that six month period, the couple would visit their home on the weekends, which at the time had no running water or electricity, and fix it up into a healthy and suitable living conditions. Within a few months of being sober, the Jones said they got their children back from the state and both parents started attending Lincoln University.
The Jones have five children; Sean, Ashley, Brittany, Trent, and Holly.
Troy and Carole had been sober for three and a half years when they got a phone call no parent ever wants to get. In March 2010, the Jones said they found out their son Trent, 17, had died from a heroin overdose. The Jones were aware of their son's drug use before he died.
"There were times when he would curl up in my lap and cry to me and said, 'Mom I don't want to be like this, I don't want to be like this'," remembers Carole.
She admits to enabling Trent at times, "The love for my son was so strong that I put blinders on and there were times when I found needles and hid them because he would say 'Don't tell dad, don't tell dad.'"
Carole said Trent was not a regular heroin user and tried quitting for a period of time, but he started using again and shortly after passed away.
"A lot of people would say, 'Why wouldn't you kick him out, how could you let him do that in your home?', and to them I have to say I am so thankful I never did that because if I would have kicked him out and not gotten to say goodbye, you know I can't hardly live with the regret and pain now, I can't hardly imagine him not being here without having said goodbye," Carole said.
After Trent died, Carole said many of his friends went and sought treatment to get clean. She said many of them remain clean today and are helping other young people struggling from drug addiction.
Trent lives on in the hearts of the Jones family. Carole said Trent was the world to their family and still is. He is celebrated everyday through pictures and memorabilia that fill the Jones' house.
Carole and Troy also said they see things everyday that remind them of Trent. For instance, their daughter Holly just gave birth to her son, who she named Roman Trent, and the middle numbers on his social security card are Trent's birthday.
Carole advises others struggling from addiction, "You don't have to do it alone, in fact you can't do it alone. We have resources today and know people who will help, but the bottom line is until an addict's ready to stop, they're not going to stop."
Troy and Carole have been clean for seven years and now serve as mentors and peers to other recovering addicts. In May, both Troy and Carole will receive their bachelors degrees from Lincoln University. Troy's bachelors is in Wellness, and Carole will receive her bachelors in Psychology. Both said they plan on getting masters degrees next.
Carole said she hopes to open a drug addiction treatment and recovery center in honor of Trent.