Monday, November 21, 2011

Knowles family: Son's heroin overdose still haunts

Journal and Courier :: By: Sophia Voravong :: November 21, 2011
It was a chilly winter morning on Feb. 10, the day that Terri Knowles met with her youngest son, Daniel, outside Market Square on Lafayette's north end.

She replays that morning over and over -- how they went into a gas station to add minutes to Daniel's cellphone, how he teased his mother about the unfashionable boots she was wearing.

Those innocuous details mean the world to Terri Knowles because two days later, Daniel died from an overdose of heroin.

"He was just as normal as can be," Terri Knowles of Buck Creek said, recalling their last moments together. "He gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. And that was my last hug. That was my last kiss."

Daniel Knowles' death was one of three overdoses in Tippecanoe County during a 24-hour period. Investigators suspected all three deaths were caused by a potent batch of heroin circulating in the community.

Heroin is typically cut with other drugs or ingredients to reduce its potency and increase the doses that can be sold. Investigators suspect the heroin Daniel Knowles used had not yet been cut.

"It's like playing Russian roulette," West Lafayette police Detective Jon Eager said. "When you're buying heroin, you don't know if it's been cut or what it's been cut with. It's unknown strength."

The addictive drug's popularity in Tippecanoe County continues to grow.

Eight cases were filed in 2008 and more than double that number -- 19 -- in 2010. Through October of this year, 22 heroin cases have been filed, Prosecutor Pat Harrington said.

Meanwhile, Terri Knowles has turned the heartache of her son's death into an attempt to educate teens and young adults about drug use. She's spoken to a class at Ivy Tech Community College and is looking to start a support program for other people who've lost loved ones to drugs.

But Terri Knowles and her husband, Butch, still have many unanswered questions about their son's death.

Daniel's drug use began with marijuana during his sophomore year of high school, Butch Knowles said.

Daniel "got in with a bad crowd," they said.

Terri Knowles said the mother of one boy also provided Daniel with prescription drugs, which he began using on a near-regular basis.

When Daniel was introduced to heroin, things got worse.

Though he would stay clean briefly, Daniel Knowles often relapsed. Because he didn't live at home, his parents weren't always able to intervene.

"I just wish we could have done something different when he was in high school. I wish we could have helped him then," Terri Knowles said. "The advice I have for parents today -- get to know your children's friends, but also get to know their parents."

"I'll have questions until I die. Things I'll never know," Butch Knowles said. "Every day I say, 'What could I have done different?' It's tough. You just have to take it by each day, go forward.

"You'll drive yourself nuts thinking what should I have done, what could I have done?"

Here are some signs to help recognize whether a loved one is using heroin:

• Pale, clammy skin
• Ptosis, which is defined as drooping eyelids
• Constricted, small eyes
• Claims to be using morphine to avoid getting labeled a "junkie"

Read full article here.

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