NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Sometimes people suffering with opioid addiction turn to others for help. But sadly professionals listening may need help of their own.
After a local addiction treatment consultant died from an overdose, people in his community are asking others who are battling the disease to come forward.
Jeremiah Jackson died on Nov. 10. He worked as a treatment consultant at American Addiction Centers in Brentwood helping others with their addictions.
People who knew him said he was loved, and called his death a shock. Chris Boutte said Jackson was dedicated to his work.
"I know that was helping him so much, when we get to help others that helps us so much," Boutte said.
The two first met when Boutte became an Alumni Coordinator and consultant.
"We just met and he helped me out with a lot of early struggles. Just dealing with clients who had relapsed and calling me and needing help and people passing away," he said.
Boutte spoke to Jackson last month and was surprised to hear of his passing.
"Jeremiah was just a great example like he is somebody I needed in my life and he was also laughing and joking around and he would freestyle rap and like sing and break dance. He could just...everybody loved the dude," he said.
Jackson had been clean for more than four years and shared his heroin addiction story with WTVF TV station in Nashville in December 2017. While working at AAC, Jackson attended a separate recovery program. He was clean for more than four years but last weekend he died from an overdose.
Cindy Spelta has worked at Cumberland Heights helping others with their drug and alcohol addictions for more than 15 years. She said people in her field may sometimes need even more help than those they are treating.
She said she has been sober from cocaine usage and alcohol for 17 years and also participates in a recovery program.
Spelta said Jackson's passing is devastating and is possibly an example of what professionals call "compassion fatigue."
"You're dealing with people whose lives have been destroyed and whose families' lives have been destroyed and all that is coming at you every day," she said.
She also said each day the tolerance level for people in recovery drops while the chances of a fatal relapse go up. Spelta said anyone with an addiction, no matter how small, needs to talk about it.
She said the addiction disease does not discriminate.
In a statement, Jeremiah's sister Summer said:
"We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, love and prayers we have received for Jeremiah. To know that he touched so many lives and was loved by so many people, means so much during this difficult time. We are forever grateful to his American Addiction Centers family. Jeremiah loved working at AAC and helping others get into treatment at the same company that saved his life years ago. Knowing he was able to share his recovery journey and make a difference brought him great joy. We continue to hear stories about the countless lives he touched, and even saved, because of the work he did every day and the support he gave to those battling this disease. Jeremiah’s death is a reminder that addiction does not discriminate, and for the millions of people who live with this disease, it is a lifelong battle. We must continue the fight in Jeremiah’s memory."
The family has also set up a GoFundMe account to provide scholarships for treatment in his name.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdose deaths killed more people than vehicle accidents in 2017.
If you or someone you know is dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction contact Cumberland Heights at cumberlandheights.org.