Heroin overdose survivor inspires others recovering from addiction

Jazzmin Brown (WISH Photo)

HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – Jazzmin Brown overdosed on heroin in 2012 and now is a quadriplegic because of it.

24-Hour News 8 first introduced you to Brown in June of 2013when she was in the hospital recovering from surgery to help her better deal with her quadriplegia. Brown told 24-Hour News 8 she wanted to become a public speaker to explain to others how heroin has affected her life forever.

Fast forward to March 2014: Jazzmin is in Hendricks County at a recovery event open to the public, sharing her story.

“This,” she says pointing to her legs. “This, is the aftermath of my destructive past. I should be dead, but God has a different plan,” Jazzmin added.

She’s a smiley, spunky, now 21-year-old.

Jazzmin suffers from short-term memory loss and hearing loss, in addition to her paralyzed legs and arms. She says she feels better mentally and happier now than before her overdose on heroin and Xanax.

“I want to share my story so that people won’t go down the road that I did, because it’s dark,” she explained.

For the first time, Jazzmin’s mom spoke publicly at the event, sharing her story of struggle as a parent of an addict. She says she was an “enabler.”

“Mainly what I’m going to speak about is enabling, because as a parent, that’s what I did,” said Melissa VanHorn.

“I didn’t know what to do. I felt alienated. I felt alone. Nobody understood. None of my friends were going through it. I think if I can help somebody to understand there’s help out there, like an Al-Anon class, to take care of ourselves and not just take care of our addicts,” VanHorn added.

“I was addicted to my addict, and I truly was. I learned so much about myself, how to take care of me, learning what enabling is, how to set boundaries and how to stick to them,” VanHorn said.

Jazzmin says first it was alcohol, then prescription meds and then heroin. She was in and out of a juvenile detention center and jail on alcohol-related offenses for years. It was days after her father died when Jazzmin overdosed for the third time in seven weeks. Her mother found her, not breathing.

“I didn’t realize I was playing tug of war with my life until October 22, 2012,” said Jazzmin.

Life is different now. Jazzmin survived her overdose, but life won’t ever be the way it was. She has a caretaker during the day to help her with daily tasks, like doing her hair. Jazzmin has a goal,of walking again.

“But it’s all in the long run, it’s a good thing. This is my prison. But one day, I’ll break. I’ll get out of this,” said Jazzmin smiling.

In the meantime, she’s making a difference – perhaps more than she knows. Those recovering from drug addiction who attended her speech this week said it’s a lesson they will never forget.

“Coming from a recovering addict that also used heroin, it impacted me quite a bit. I’ve OD’d in the past, and I didn’t have as much of a consequence. But it’s definitely an eye opener for any chance of relapse for me,” said Jesse Richardson.

“I’ve been sober almost a year now, and that’s what’s going to be in the back of my head now, definitely,” said James Roseman.

Niki Badour is the one who asked Jazzmin to come and speak at the event.

“As a recovering alcoholic and as a parent, it was very touching. Knowing what the parent is going through and also being the person putting the parent through it,” Badour explained.

“There’s a way out, you just have to ask for help,” said Jazzmin.

Jazzmin and her mom plan to attend Project Walk in Atlanta in June. It’s a spinal cord injury recovery center.

They’re fundraising to help Jazzmin get there.

Jazzmin has been writing all her progress on her Facebook page, Jazzmin’s Journey.

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