Scott Davenport appeared to have finally turned a corner.
The 38-year-old father and restaurant worker, who had cycled in and out of rehab for a heroin addiction that started when he was in college, had been clean for two years, started going to church, had a job and a new girlfriend.
“Scott appeared to be his old self,” Scott’s father, Roy Davenport, said. “For the first time in years, things were looking up for him.”
But in March 2015, Roy Davenport got a phone call no parent ever wants to receive.
“Someone from the restaurant where he was working called and said, ‘I hate to be the one to call you, but we just found your son unconscious in the bathroom,’” Roy Davenport said. “I thought it was another case of OD’ing and that we’d be starting all over again.”
But when Roy Davenport got to the restaurant, he found out Scott died.
“The next morning, I had to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had to wake up my granddaughter and tell her her daddy died,” Davenport said.
When the toxicology report on Scott came back, Davenport was shocked there was no trace of heroin in his son’s bloodstream.
“Somebody gave Scott pure fentanyl under the guise that it was heroin. It killed him almost instantly,” Davenport said. “Drug users in this country are playing Russian roulette.”
“Heroin today is white, middle and upper class.”
-Carol Reeves, executive director of Greenville Family Partnership
From the cities to the suburbs
Heroin’s face was once the inner-city teenager whose habit started with heroin.
But today’s heroin users are more likely to be white suburban men and women in their 20s who get hooked on prescription pain pills and then turn to heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to get, according to a study led by Washington University School of Medicine psychiatry that was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
“Heroin today is white, middle and upper class. It’s the people who wait on you every day, the people who you interact with at work,” said Carol Reeves, executive director of Greenville Family Partnership.
Viewing heroin use and opiate addiction through the lens of old stereotypes is dangerous, Reeves said.
“The typical path to heroin these days starts with prescription pain pills,” she said. “The average age of people we’re losing from it is 30 to 36. The problem had to get to epidemic proportions before a lot of people started to pay attention.”[ezcol_1half][/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end][/ezcol_1half_end]
Davenport // Images provided.
Steve Grant lost both of his sons to drug overdoses within five years.
Christopher Grant was the only freshman on Christ Church Episcopal School’s varsity basketball and soccer teams in 1999. Six years later, his father found him dead of an accidental overdose of cocaine and methadone after his son missed their customary Sunday dinner.
In March 2010, Chris’s brother Kelly was a junior at the College of Charleston, a member of a band that had just signed a record deal. A friend of a friend introduced him to heroin.
Eight months later, Steve Grant found Kelly dead, at the age of 24, curled up in a corner of his room with a band and a needle mark on his arm.
“It is the ultimate gut punch,” Grant said.
Steve Grant stared Chris and Kelly’s HOPE Foundation, a group dedicated to fighting drug addiction in teens and young adults.
The foundation has supported college campus recovery programs that provide support for students who come to college with addictions or develop one while there. The College of Charleston just implemented such a program last month, Grant said.
The foundation also built a fitness park near the White Horse Academy, a 16-bed facility that has a 100-day program for teenagers with substance abuse problems. In addition, Grant serves on the board of the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina that is working to raise money to study the adolescent and young adult brain and substance abuse.
“I think most people don’t understand just how huge the problem is,” Grant said.
Penalties for dealers sought
Davenport is also working to keep other parents from having to go through what he has gone through.
A month after his son’s death, when he was talking to investigators to check if any progress had been made in his son’s case, Davenport said, “I hope when you catch the person, they’re put under the jail.”
He was shocked when the detective replied, “Mr. Davenport, even if we catch the person who sold this to your son, we can’t charge them with his death.”
He and his daughter, Heather, are working on Scott’s Law, a law that would allow drug dealers who sales that can be directly tied to overdoses to face charges that carry stiffer penalties than drug possession or distribution charges.
He said state Sen. Mike Fair had agreed to sponsor such legislation but Fair was defeated in the Republican primary run-off, forcing Davenport to look for another sponsor.
“I’ll never understand why Scott felt he had to do drugs. In the last year before he died, he said, ‘Dad, you just don’t understand how hard it is for me. Every day is a challenge to get up and not do drugs,’” Davenport said. “Scott fought it as hard as he possibly could. It was just too powerful.”