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Former addict shares struggle with students to stop them from making the same mistake

Posted at 8:56 PM, Jan 04, 2017

A new state law that makes Narcan available in places like homeless shelters and schools is one big step in helping protect kids who get hooked on Heroin, but it's not the only effort aimed at sparing Ohio children the harsh reality of addiction.

News 5 spoke with a former addict who is sharing his struggle in hopes of saving lives.

Jeff Knight was on a direct course to prison when a court program gave him a second chance.

Now clean, his mission is to make sure kids don't make the same mistakes he did.

"I didn't think it could happen to me,” said Jeff Knight. “I was a successful business owner; I was from an affluent area."

For Knight, it was prescription painkillers that started his downward spiral.

"I liked the way it made me feel, and I started using them recreationally," said Knight.

When he couldn't afford those pills anymore, the Bay Village man turned to heroin. “Once I stuck a needle in my arm it was like the demon drop, the bottom just fell out," said Knight. "I found myself in county jail, on my way to prison, facing felony charges," added Knight.

Now Knight finds himself in front of students all across Northeast Ohio.

"I've gone to a lot of schools, middle schools, high schools." said Knight.

It's children in this age group, according to Cuyahoga County statistics, that are now testing positive for opiates. “People are starting to use pills at a younger age and the transition to heroin is seamless it seems like," said Knight.

And like Knight, those pills are what can push a teen to heroin. "I've heard people as young as 13 using a needle," said Knight.

Knight says it is so important for parents and school districts to understand the threat this epidemic poses is real. While many of them already do, not everyone heeds his warning.

"I've also seen school systems that put their hands up and say we don't have that here, you know, but they do," added Knight.

As for the message Knight works to drive home to students? It’s simple. "They don't think it's going to happen to them, and then they're dead," said Knight.

But if he has anything to say about it, that won't happen on Knight's watch. That's why he says he will continue his mission to educate everyone he can about this deadly addiction.

“Talk about it. It's real. It's out there. People are dying every day," said Knight.

Knight not only gives his time to schools in Northeast Ohio, he also runs five recovery homes in Cleveland. Currently, 40 men who've just come out of treatment are living there until they can get out on their own.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the ADAMHS addiction crisis, information & referral hotline at 216-623-6888. You can also text “CRISIS” to 741741 and log on to www.adamhscc.org for its crisis online chat.