Comedian Jimmy Graham: My kids are addicts and I’m fighting back
Jimmy ‘Roundboy” Graham is both my good friend and a comedian from Pittman with whom I've shared the stage for several comedy shows. Now, he’s dealing with the tragedy of his son, Shea, who has gotten hooked on heroin as the result of pain killers.
Jimmy's fight against heroin has driven him to the point of posting yard signs on drug dealers' lawns in his town. He has personally taken people to get help and has been threatened by both drug dealers and gang members.
Here Jimmy's a his story in his own words…
When my youngest son was just 17 he broke his wrist in a wrestling match which required surgery and a screw implant. Seeing my child in pain, I didn't object to his being prescribed Percocets. Had I know the cycle of anguish that would follow I would have never allowed it. He became hooked on the opiate and became a full blown addict by 19. My wife and I emptied our bank accounts, 401K's and I even cashed in my pension paying for rehabs, recovery and sober houses.
The results were all the same, 3X's he would return clean, handsome and full of life. That was until the dealers knew he was back. A relentless stream of texts, IM's and tweets bombarded him and would eventually break him down and return him to the cycle. In his second stay at a rehab, I took his phone, saw the messages and threatened the dealers to stop. They of course would send no reply, but I felt at least they knew that I was aware of them. The police told me that they couldn't use the texts as evidence or even enough reason to acquire a warrant.
The third time seemed to be the charm and for 6 months our lives had returned to a somewhat normal family, broke but normal. My son had a new number, had blocked all his old contacts and seemed to be enjoying sobriety. That was until the mother of a young man I gave a home to and sent to college on a wrestling scholarship saw him at a supermarket. The woman that I helped by treating her son as my own had begun her tenure as a pusher, selling opiates and the ultimate, Heroin.
When the pills became too expensive as more and more of his earnings were being spent on them, she offered him the cheaper, more dangerous alternative of a brown powder. In a knee jerk reaction I exploded with emotion and threatened the dealers, like Donald Trump I threw away diplomacy and political correctness for straight talk. I had the local police visit my home to tell they had received dozens of complaints about my video posted to Facebook. I offered them the phone but was again told that it couldn't be used???
After I calmed my mind and spirit, I made another video showing parents what to look for in their children's rooms, phones and facebook/Twitter/etc accounts. I had a tremendous amount of parents reach out telling me in confidence that were going through the same trauma. They desperately needed someone to talk to, but the programs available all had the same theme, turn your back on them, even giving them a bed was enabling. As a Father this seemed ludicrous and impossible for me to do.
It was then that I decided to do something other than cry and punch walls. A friend produced yard signs that read, “NOT IN OUR TOWN, STOP OR LEAVE”. Under the cover of darkness I placed them on the lawns of the people I had proof of distributing, maybe the police couldn't use the information, but I could. This infuriated them, I received threats, discouraging emails and posts. My response was there was no greater fear to a Father than the thought of a dead child. They realized my sincerity and backed down, at least for the time being.
People rallied around the cause, they asked for a different sign, one that would show support for my new cause. I had the signs printed and will be dispersing them this week at Pitman's 4th Friday. I plan on conducting Comedy Shows with the help of local businesses and venues to create a fund for the forgotten victims, the families of the addicted. Too often they are so wounded that it makes life at times unbearable. They are unable to function at work, become depressed and have moneys literally stolen from their purses by the very children they fear will be completely consumed by this apocalyptic epidemic. The revenue raised with go to the parents, siblings and children of the addicts.
I am forming a non-profit to received and distribute these funds. I have also set up parent meeting for families to speak to other families in peril, letting them know they are not alone. There is strength in numbers and with a united front we can and will keep families whole better equipping them to cope. I can only pray that I have enough energy and health to further this cause, the alternative of a gray marble slab and a plot of grass is horrifying.