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Mother struggles after daughter is lost to drugs

December 24, 2017

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — Ingrid Chacha has full hands and a broken heart.

She lost her daughter, Jasmyn Hester, 33, on Nov. 21, and now she’s caring for the four children Jasmyn left behind.

She’s cared for 16-month-old grandson Kai’Cen since he came home from the hospital, born addicted “to so much.”

The bright-eyed boy was a victim, too, of the drug addiction that plagued Jasmyn’s life for the last six or seven years. It ended when she overdosed at a house on Whitehall Street.

Chacha has heard there were several people there, that they cleaned up their drugs before calling for help for Jasmyn, and then took off before it arrived.

“I guess some of them may have had warrants on them,” she said, “but was that worth a life?”

The problem for Jasmyn started with pills, Chacha said. She’s not sure when that turned into heroin.

Having worked at the Department of Human Resources, Chacha said she knew what she was seeing with her daughter, and she tried to get her help, tried to get her to go to rehab.

“She didn’t think she needed it,” Chacha said. “She thought she could do it on her own.”

Sometimes Jasmyn could. She would come home, her mother recalled, and things would be better.

“Then some of her friends would come and get her,” Chacha said. “They’d pick her up, and I knew ...”

She knows that many other families face the same struggle that she has with an addicted loved one.

“I feel like I should have been able to do something,” Chacha said, even though she knows that parents cannot control the choices adult children make.

She thinks Jasmyn was reaching out for help. She has text messages from her daughter. One reads “just keep praying and don’t give up on me ...”

Another, closer to the time of Jasmyn’s overdose reads: “I know you(’re) tired mama and you need me but I’m useless right now.

“I’m going to fix our family again,” Jasmyn texted.

“I don’t want Jasmyn’s death to be for nothing,” she said. “I hope that this will open someone’s eyes” to the perils of drug use.

She’s found support in her church and community — where a march from Mission Baptist Church to the Etowah County Courthouse was planned because of Jasmyn’s death and other overdoses in the area.

Chacha wants people to understand that help is needed to fight opioid addiction — that people cannot do it alone.

“But you don’t know where to turn,” she said. “I wish there was someplace for people to go, somewhere to feel comfortable and face this.”

There may be places to go for help, Chacha said, but she believes most people don’t know how to find them.

“You’ve got to know who to turn to,” she said. “You have to reach someone who can get you to the right resources.”

Chacha hopes to help in making what resources are available in the Gadsden-Etowah County area known to the people who need them.

“This is what breaks my heart,” Chacha said, gesturing to Kai’Cen as he puttered around her living room. “He won’t even have any memories of her. Her older children will.”

Because he was born while Jasmyn was using drugs, Kai’Cen came home from the hospital with Chacha and she’s cared for him ever since.

“He’ll know who she is,” Chacha said, “but he won’t really know her.”

She feels blessed that she can care for her grandchildren — that they have her to take care of them.

However, Chacha said she worries about so many other drug addicts out there, who don’t have a parent or anyone to take care of their children.

“Who is going to take care of them?” she asked.

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