Heroin Overdoses Affect Not Only Users, But Family Members

By Cassandra Hershberger

By the age of 12, Jorden Bodenschatz had seen almost everything in the drug world.

Drugs engulfed her parents so much that it was a part of the reason for their divorce. However, she wasn’t equipped for the news she heard on April 1, 2016.

That is when she found out her brother, 30-year-old Terry Bodenschatz had nearly died due to a heroin overdose.

While her family had been in ruin for years due to drug abuse in virtually every aspect of it, the overdose of her brother brought home the notion that those who survive suffer the most.

Terry holding Jorden when they were children.
Terry Bodenschatz holding Jorden Bodenschatz when they were children. Photo courtesy of Jorden Bodenschatz.

“I feel like I knew what was truly happening and truly understood at [12-years-old ]when my mother got arrested,” Bodenschatz said.

She grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania primarily in the Ferndale area, but moved around frequently. All of her family members were born in Johnstown and still live there now. Her mother and father split up in 2006, and after that, chaos started.

During sixth grade her mother got arrested while Bodenschatz was in the backyard with her friends. Paula Bodenschatz allegedly joined a Johnstown pharmacist in a scheme to obtain prescription drugs illegally. Her mother ended up pleading guilty to three felonies – acquiring prescription drugs by fraud, insurance fraud and conspiracy.

While too young to understand what drugs could do to people and families, Bodenschatz realized something wasn’t right after her parents split up, and her dad came back from Florida to live with them.

“The only reason I came back to Johnstown was because Paula called and asked,” said Phil Bodenschatz “She knew the feds were coming to get her.”

As time went on,  Bodenschatz’s brother began using drugs, which only got worse.

“My brother was cooking crack in the microwave,” Bodenschatz said. “He would tell me he was working, and I had to stay out of the kitchen. He even made me pick the seeds out of his weed.”

Here was her brother, a former baseball and hockey player who was her rock. Now, he was an addict and  Bodenschatz chose to stay away from the idea that her brother was an addict.

Terry Bodenschatz and Jorden Bodenschatz share a happy moment together during Christmas when they were children. Photo courtesy of Jorden Bodenschatz.

“When I went to college, I finally realized I was living in a hectic world, and it wasn’t a normal life to live,”  Bodenschatz said. “Everything I went through since a young age was finally making sense that it is not how people should live.”

She said her brother was a good enough athlete to play sports in college, but when her parents got divorced she saw him transform into a drug dealer. After selling drugs for so long, he began using. He started smoking marijuana, moved on to snorting cocaine, followed by smoking crack, and finally onto shooting up heroin.

“When I found out my brother shot up heroin, I went against my vow to never smoke a cigarette in front of him,” Bodenschatz said. “I lit it up and told him if I have to deal with him shooting up he has to deal with me smoking cigarettes. He was speechless.”

She started to cry and told him he needed to stop doing heroin. He left the house, and they never spoke about it again until he got arrested.

Bodenschatz saw on the news that he was arrested for making a delivery of 30 bags of heroin.

He went to rehab, and was ordered by a judge to get drug tested frequently. He took classes on how to understand his addiction and the effects it had on other people around him. She thought he was on his way to being clean again.

Then on April 1, 2016, she received a call about her brother. She immediately knew something was wrong, even though her brother constantly told her he would never overdose.

“I was screaming hysterically,” Bodenschatz said. “My brother always told me that he would never die from doing heroin. He claimed he could shoot up 10 bags and not die.”

She thought he either had a bad bag of heroin or he tried to kill himself.

Bodenschatz and her fiance drove to her brother’s house. They found out paramedics were able to bring him back to life from Naloxone, a drug that neutralizes heroin in the human system.

She went from being upset to furious.

When she got there she went into the bathroom and asked her brother, “What have you done?” He immediately knew what she was talking about and told her to stop yelling.

Bodenschatz told him that all he was doing was hurting her. When she went into the living room, he started crying because he knew that she was hurt. She asked him what he was going to do about this. 

Bodenschatz offered to do whatever she needed to get him better. He explained to her that he was already in counseling and was prescribed Suboxone, a prescription used to treat opioid addiction.

She was the one who had to deal with the consequences emotionally.

“My whole family thinks they are invincible, and I am the only sober one in my family who has to witness how much addiction takes over everyone,” Bodenschatz said.

Bodenschatz now lives with depression and anxiety from her family.

She hopes her brother realizes how much people like his son and her love him, which is why it is important for him to live. He continues to use his prescribed Suboxone and attends counseling with hopes of keeping his addiction under control.

Jorden Bodenschatz and her brother at her high school graduation. Photo courtesy of Jorden Bodenschatz.

Bodenschatz believes her brother is more than likely going back to jail soon because he is on parole.

She, however, plans to finish college, go to graduate school and write stories that help addicts like her brother and the rest of her family realize how important it is to stay clean and sober.

Bodenschatz would love to lead creative writing workshops at rehab centers or prisons so addicts realize their stories matter.

“When you love an addict, all you can do is just take it day by day. Even though I have been through a lot of struggles from my family’s addiction I know they are struggling as well. I will do anything I have too in order for my family to recover,” Bodenschatz said.

Cassandra Hershberger, from Johnstown, is a Sports, Art, and Entertainment Management Major who is minoring in Public Relations and Advertising.  She will graduate in May 2017.