LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Heroin addiction is a growing problem in Lafayette. It’s common to hear about deaths and arrests due to heroin, but what isn’t as common are the stories of how the drug affects families of addicts.
When Terri Knowles looks out at her back yard, she still sees her son Daniel playing innocently with his siblings, loving life and enjoying the outdoors.
“I don’t want him forgotten,” admitted Terri Knowles.
She likes to remember his good qualities, but his mistakes often haunt her.
“I wish he would have talked to us,” confessed Terri Knowles. “I wish he would have felt he could have talked to us.”
It’s a guilt she hopes no parent has to feel — the struggle of parenting an addict, and eventually losing the battle in an overdose.
“He said your son Daniel has passed. And I said, ‘Why are you lying to me? This isn’t true. I just talked to him today, and he was doing well. He sounded good,’” said Terri Knowles.
But heroin kept calling him back, even after prison and several thousand dollars of rehabilitation. Daniel’s father Butch Knowles said it’s a vicious cycle that parents often can’t understand, so it’s easier to deny it.
“We were probably part of the problem,” admitted Butch Knowles. Because we kept saying, ‘No, he couldn’t have done this,’ and we would stand up for him, make excuses. And we shouldn’t have done that.”
Butch Knowles said looking back, he feels he could have been an enabler.
“He wants ten bucks for a haircut, and you know it’s going for drugs or something,” said Butch Knowles.
But there’s no manual for parents of addiction because every addict and situation is different. Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly said even the most functional families can’t overcome the problem.
“Unfortunately, I think you can be a perfect parent in today’s world and still have issues like this affect you and your family,” said Chief Flannelly.
In Jim Taylor’s case, he had to turn to the most extreme form of tough love.
“I had to say, ‘Joel, there’s the door. You have to leave. And if you want to kill yourself, then so be it,’” explained Taylor.
He’s retired and said these were supposed to be the best years of his life. But in those years, his son turned to heroin, his grandchildren were taken away and put into foster care, and his life went from happy family gatherings to weekly visits with his son in jail.
Taylor worries what will happen when his son gets out. He’s seen him turn back to heroin time and time again.
“I’m almost on the brink of insanity myself having put up with all of this so long,” admitted Taylor. “He had track marks all over himself, he’d even shot a needle in his forehead, and this is how bad this gets.”
However, Taylor said his faith gets him through. Terri Knowles has a slightly different coping mechanism. She goes to local schools and shares Daniel’s story.
“Until the day I join him, if his story can save somebody, I will continue to do it,” proclaimed Terri Knowles.
Terri Knowles said heroin doesn’t define her son. He wanted better for his life and the life of others.
“He would be smiling and saying, ‘Way to go, mom yeah.’ I think he’s with me at the schools,” said Terri Knowles about her son.