Parents Fight For Opioid Education Earlier In The School System
SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – Casey and Brooke Scoffield and Jason and Tiffany James both share the same nightmare. They each lost their sons this year to opioids — two families now grieving in their absence.Braxton Scoffield’s addiction started young. He started drinking at age 12 and later turned to opioids.
“We had no clue until he was 18 how serious it was. He was really good at covering up,” Brooke Scoffield explained.
His parents couldn’t understand why he turned to drugs.
“We ate dinner together every night at 5 o’clock, we went boating, we went on vacation,” she said.
But the addiction was stronger.
“Just a normal kid that made a bad decision and it took him over,” Brooke Scoffield said.
He started selling drugs and ended up with a felony. After several attempts, he finally went to rehab willingly. Casey Scoffield described how his son ended up really wanting recovery — he wanted to be different.
One last relapse was the end, though.
“And that morning I got a call that he had gone into cardiac arrest and didn’t make it,” Brooke Scoffield said.
They had no idea Braxton’s chronic drug use led to heart disease, which would eventually kill their son at 25 years old.
“Worst day of my life,” Brooke Scoffield said in tears.
The Jameses share a similar story. Their son Colten tried heroin for the first time at a party with friends.
“Three of them are dead, including my son,” Tiffany James said.
They tried everything. They took away his cell phone and car, but nothing stopped him.
“They were sleeping in the doorsteps of the libraries downtown close to wherever they could get the drugs,” Tiffany James described.
They put him in rehab but their insurance company only covered 30 days. The minute he was released Colten slipped again.
She found him slumped over in his bathroom passed out on the floor. She called for her husband and they took turns doing CPR on their son.
“Just started begging him not to go!” she said.
But it was too late for their 22-year-old son.
“It’s a nightmare. This is an epidemic. It’s killing people every day,” Jason James said.
It’s designed to increase prevention and to help people through recovery. They’ve partnered with the Ron McBride Foundation, which sponsors golf tournaments to raise funds.
Coach McBride said the proceeds will help implement new curriculum called Healthy Learning in some Utah schools.
“Help young people make better decisions. Make sure parents are aware of what’s going on with their children,” McBride said. “The goal is to save lives.”
Their first priority is to start teaching kids as early as elementary school.
“We want them to have a clear understanding of the dangers,” Tiffany James said.
This fall the Salt lake, Ogden, and Jordan school districts will pilot the new program.
David Compton, Executive Director of the Ron McBride Foundation, said the model teaches kids to make informed decisions and consequences.
“It’s going to be that moment when somebody says would you like to try this?” he said.
The Scoffields and Jameses will share their stories in the classroom.
“I think if Braxton would have had a good early education about what his life might turn to once he started doing these drugs, I don’t think he would have chose that,” Brooke Scoffield said.
They also hope to sponsor recovering addicts through rehab and teach parents what signs to look for.
They said this crisis demands everyone’s efforts.
“We need help. Everyone needs to pitch in and we can get rid of this,” Jason James said.
Their goal is to carry children, addicts, parents, teachers and families.
“Our efforts will carry them because they can’t carry themselves. We will get them where they need to be,” Tiffany James said.
“I’m going to die fighting this just like my son did,” Brooke Scoffield said.
Check out more stories of overcoming addiction in KSL’s Healthy Mind Matters series:
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