FACING A PROBLEM: small town battles drug addiction epidemic

December 8, 2019

(Matt Rodewald, reporting) The Town of Safford… A three-hour drive east of Phoenix It looks like every small town in America Quiet… Innocent… A place… Where secrets have nowhere to hide Jan Napier came to Safford in the 1980’s from nearby Wilcox, and she loved the idea of raising Her family in the shadow of Main Street, USA. (Jan Napier) You know most everybody And the kids play in the street and you didn’t
have to lock your doors, and — (laughs) It was just a very quiet little town. (Matt Rodewald, reporting) Her family was happy And her youngest son Chris, was like every young boy in rural America (Jan Napier) He was my little cowboy. He wanted to be
a cowboy from the time he got old enough To know what a cowboy was He had boots almost at the time he could walk (Matt Rodewald, reporting) Chris loved horses, and he loved the game of baseball (Jan Napier) When he was little, he would watch Randy
Johnson pitch, and then he would go work for hours trying to pitch just like Randy Johnson (Matt Rodewald, reporting) But as the town was beginning to change Her little cowboy, now a teenager, became sick It wasn’t a virus Chris was handcuffed by an addiction to opiates (Jan Napier) For about six months, he struggled to stay
— to stay clean And he struggled with severe depression and
suicidal thoughts (Matt Rodewald, reporting) Five years ago, chris tried once more to end his struggle with drugs (Jan Napier) He was at my house and had dinner with my daughter And… I came home before he left and talked to him for a few minutes, and then he left And then the next morning, I got the call that they had found him He had gone into the bathroom and used again,
evidently, Tuesday night and as he turned around to walk out, he just slumped over and he was gone He was just kneeling in the bathroom when
they found him (Matt Rodewald, reporting) At the age of 24, drugs… finally… Took the lift… of Chris Napier (Jan Napier) I can remember running from the car and the officer tried to stop me and I said That’s my son! And I ran in (Matt Rodewald, reporting) Jan tried, but ultimately no one was going to save her little cowboy (Jan Napier) My life will never be the same, because a
piece of it’s gone (Chris Taylor) The only way I can describe it to people
is that it’s just a living nightmare. I mean, it’s — Your every waking moment has to be dedicated
to finding your next drug, your next hit (Matt Rodewald, reporting) Chris Taylor hit rock-bottom after serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army But he found a way out of his Heroin addiction (Chris Taylor) I was just involved in a lot of things in
the community I was seeing results with my organization and with other people And I kinda had this idea that I wanted to take it a step further (Matt Rodewald, reporting) From addict to Alderman, Taylor ran for City Council, and he won And with new motivation, he’s now leading the Safford charge to help others fight drug addiction (Chris Taylor) We learned about this program from “Facing Addiction” This community pilot program. And again, I was like, ‘we might as well put an application
in, I don’t expect we’ll get picked.’ (Matt Rodewald, reporting) And sure enough, 15 cities were on the list, and Safford was one of them Along with Chicago, San Diego and Baton Rouge, Safford will get access to local funding To help addicts out of rehab transition
back into normal life (Chris Taylor) It was overwhelming, but I knew that… There’s something special in this community (Matt Rodewald) The Town of Safford, with a population of about 10,000 with a big time problem Drug addiction From opioids to heroin, it’s ravaged this
town, and it’s shaken its core And the one big thing that they’d like to fix before
anything else, is that perception That people that are addicted to drugs are
from the “wrong side of the tracks” (Chris Taylor) One of the biggest barriers to that is that negative — that stigma that surrounds it That you can’t be helped We need to — we need to just lock up all of our people who struggle with addiction and we have seen that that does not work (Jan Napier) I’m ecstatic something is finally happening here (Maylen) They don’t realize how big our problem is,
especially when it’s prescribed medicine, they don’t think anything is illegal, so what is that a problem? (Matt Rodewald, reporting) Maylen lost her father three years ago, after years of battling addiction But the couple says despite drug concerns in their town, they aren’t going anywhere This is where all my family is, this is where
I grew up. (Matt Rodewald, reporting) One town, looking for redemption… And help might finally be on the way It might be too late to save this little cowboy… But it could save others (Jan Napier) Everyday. I cry everyday And I will for the rest of my life

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