Part 2 of Joey's Story and the Orange County Opiate Epidemic

on Friday, 04 May 2012. Posted in Breaking News, Heroin

Opiate Addiction

This is the continuation of Joey's story, a tragic tale of opiate addiction that is becoming all too familiar in neighborhoods across the country. Opiate addiction knows no bounds, and many nice, affluent places such as Orange County, California are reeling from the devastation.

Fourteen hours after getting out of jail and less than 24 hours before Joey Kennedy's body was found dumped on the side of the road, the young man staggered into a meeting with his probation officer. Joey confessed to his probation officer that "he'd taken Vicodin in jail."

Joey's probation officer said he appeared to be under the influence. Although he seemed intoxicated, Joey's probation officer planned a follow-up meeting and sent him on his way. According to Bryan Prieto, chief deputy probation officer, Joey was a low-risk offender. Prieto also explained that one goal with an addict is to have them admit their problem, which Joey did on this meeting with his probation officer. Another goal of the probation officer is to keep jail beds open for more violent offenders. Because of this, Joey was sent on his way that day.

This cycle of addiction had been ongoing for Joey Kennedy, and this visit to his probation officer was not unlike many other incidents in the past. In 2003, Joey entered a sober living facility for the second time. When his father, James, visited one day, his son was slurring his words. James Kennedy insisted on a drug test. Joey tested positive for Xanax.

After he left the sober living facility, James still allowed his son to come home. His parents watched him "like a baby." For a few years, Joey seemed to stay out of trouble. He was living on his own again, and began taking some college classes, while working as a waiter in a high-end Italian restaurant.

Then, Joey Kennedy was introduced to Oxycontin. Joey's friend found the pills in his parent's medicine cabinet, and Joey's addiction began to take hold once more. He lost his job, drifted for a while, and then asked to return home. James told his son he could not return until he went to rehab.

The Kennedy's shelled out $30,000 for a 28-day stay at the Cirque Lodge clinic in Utah. Joey came out of treatment, fresh and clean. He moved into a student apartment complex near Brigham Young University. He got a job at Gold's Gym. Again, things looked promising.

But in 2006, he showed up to a family Christmas, stoned. Three months later Joey confessed to his father that he shot heroin.

Two weeks before Joey Kennedy died, he visited a pain management expert in San Clemente. His medical records indicate he had shoulder and knee pain and was given Xanax and methadone. (a sometimes lethal combination, I might add.) The doctor in San Clemente gave Joey a prescription for 30 Xanax and 75, 10mg methadone. Since Joey's death, the doctor at the pain clinic claims he had Joey on a detox program.

Joey filled the prescriptions at a CVS, before stumbling into Starbucks that afternoon. The manager at the coffee shop called the police, as Joey was obviously intoxicated. They arrested him, taking him to jail, on charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Joey remained in jail for eleven days.

Joey was released from jail at 9p.m., on February 2nd. He was released with two other men who also had a slew of drug-related charges. When Joey was released, he had $270 and a paper sack with his prescription bottles, nearly full of Xanax and methadone. The three recent released prisoners walked to T.G.I. Fridays, where Joey popped 2 Xanax and 2 methadone before gulping down a couple of cocktails. At 10:30 p.m., the trio went to use a pay phone to call someone in order to score some heroin.

The three men then walked to a Motel 6, where Joey Kennedy shelled out $43.99 for a room. The next day, the housekeeper found 24 empty Budweiser cans when she cleaned the room. While the housekeeper picked up the beer cans, Joey was on the bus, headed to his probation officer. On the way, he swallowed two more methadone.

When Joey left probation, he called his mother and promised to visit. He text his father, saying he would call later. It was the last time James heard from his son.

Read the full story in OC Register.

Image courtesy of David Whiting and OC Register.

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