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Addiction struggles shared in obituaries by grieving parents

The Greenville News
June 1, 2017 | page A3
Anna Lee (zlee@greenvillenews.com)

Reghan Berry and Wilkins Lipscomb died two days apart. Berry, 22, of Greer, overdosed first. A family friend found her dead of an apparent heroin overdose on May 16 — a week before she was supposed to enter a 30day rehab program. Lipscomb, 26, of Greenville, died May 18. Their obituaries, published side by side in The Greenville News the following Sunday, were startlingly frank about their struggle with addiction.

Lipscomb graduated from Greenville High School and attended Clemson University before he worked in the insurance business with his father and grandfather, his obituary said. “Wilkins was an avid chef and outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing, gardening, and camping. Although Wilkins was a strong man, his battle skills were no match for the disease of addiction,” his obituary said. Efforts to reach the Lipscombs for comment on this story were not successful.

Berry’s obituary said she attended Riverside Middle and High schools and “never judged a person in her life.”
Berry’s mother, Jennifer Woodard, said her daughter had been sober a little over two weeks before she died. She had enrolled into an intensive inpatient program at Morris Village in Columbia in what would have been her fourth trip to rehab.

“I wanted everybody to know that she did have this addiction, this problem, and that she was really fighting it,” Woodard said. “I didn’t want her to be remembered as a junkie. I wanted her to be remembered to be the Reghan I loved.” She shared her daughter’s story with brutal honesty in the hopes it’ll warn other parents about the dangers of heroin. “It’s worse than anybody knows,” Woodard said.

Heroin accounted for nearly 13,000 of the 52,404 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2015, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Since 2010, heroin-related overdose deaths have more than quadrupled, according to the CDC, with numbers still rising.

As of March 15, the Greenville County Coroner’s Office has reported eight heroin-related overdoses this year compared to 20 heroin-related overdoses for all of 2016, according to Deputy Coroner Jeff Fowler. In a series of stories detailing heroin’s toil on the Upstate that year, The News found that roughly half of the county’s 95 drug overdoses in 2015 involved either heroin or fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 30 to 50 ti! mes more powerful than morphine.

Addiction for Woodard’s daughter started with painkillers in high school. Then a classmate showed her how to inject heroin, Woodard said. “That was all it took, that one time.”

Heroin changed her daughter chemically and physically. She needed heroin to feel normal. She stole from her family and friends, became homeless. She traded anything she could for drugs, including her body. One day, Woodard said she sat down and spent three hours looking through her daughter’s phone. “It was like going through a stranger’s phone. I found out so much that it made me sick,” Woodard said.

Her story — and her daughter’s obituary — have gone viral since it first appeared in The News on May 21. More than 290 people have posted comments in the guestbook, many of them thanking Woodard for shedding light on addiction and its far-reaching grasp Richard Jones, executive director of FAVOR Greenville, said it’s now incumbent on organizations like his to step up and respond to the heroin epidemic.

Jones hopes to soon launch a new program at FAVOR called Operation Rescue, which will provide 24-hour, on-call assistance for people struggling with addiction.

For more information about the addiction recovery community, call FAVOR at 864-385-7757 or visit favorgreenville.org. The nonprofit provides intervention and counseling services to those seeking recovery. For more information about treatment and referrals, call the Phoenix Center at 864-467-3790 or visit phoenixcenter.org. The Phoenix Center is the legislated substance abuse authority for Greenville County and offers a full range of services to treat substance abuse, including a detox center and outpatient programs.


Family opens up about addiction videoFamily opens up about addiction in Upstate woman’s obituary.

May 22, 2017

 
 

synthetic drug potentially too powerful for overdose reversalSynthetic drug potentially too powerful for overdose reversal

May 11, 2017

 
 

FAVOR – Fighting Against AddictionRich Jones on Your Carolina

March 3, 2017

Every day in our communities more than 40,000 people wake up to face another day that is controlled by their drinking or drug use. They or their families ask: “Where do I turn for help? How do I take the first step? What is the solution?” FAVOR Greenville Center is our community’s “Welcome Center to Recovery.” We have Richard Jones here with us this morning to tell us about it.


Week N’ Pulse: FAVOR Greenville Doing Great Work In The Upstate

Saturday, Mar 4, 2017

Deb Sofield joins Rich Jones, the Executive Director of FAVOR Greenville, to discuss some of the great things they’re doing in our community. With the goal of promoting long-term recovery from substance use disorders, Rich talks about some resources and programs available.

Listen to the interview. 


THE GREENVILLE NEWS

April 27, 2017  |  page A11

IN BRIEF

Stewart Spinks, left, presents a check to continue the work of FAVOR Greenville.

FAVOR Greenville receives gift from Shell Oil, thanks to Spinks.

FAVOR Greenville has received a donation from Shell Oil Co. made possible because of the relationship Stewart and Martha Spinks and The Spinx Co. have with Shell. Thanks to their generosity, FAVOR Greenville will be able to continue to provide the life-saving, transformational work that has impacted over 11,000 participants.

Stewart Spinks was employed by Shell after graduating from college. Shell then moved Stewart to Greenville where he later began The Spinx Co. Giving back to the Greenville community has always been a priority to Stewart Spinks and his family.