Lewistown native to deliver speech on brother’s overdose

Charlie Denison

Chris Jones passed away Oct. 8, 2016 of a drug overdose. His sister, Heather, will speak on overdose awareness Aug. 30 in hopes to prevent others from following in his footsteps.
Photo courtesy of Heather Jones

As the school year begins, new temptations arise. In hopes to prevent students from saying “yes” to drugs – be it opioids or otherwise – Young People in Recovery and Together Our Recovery Center Heals are hosting a special event with speakers sharing powerful testimonies on the dangers of drug abuse.

The “Overdose Awareness and Recovery Project” will feature speeches by Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and local testimonials. Lewistown native Heather Jones, whose brother, Chris, fatally overdosed last October in Big Sky, will also share her story.

This is Heather’s first time giving a speech about her brother’s death. She is nervous, but she said it’s important to her to get the word out and try to increase prevention awareness.

“Who knows whose life this could affect,” she said.

It’s been hard to be without Chris, Heather said, but talking about his death helps keep his memory alive, and it could help keep others alive, as opioid abuse is sweeping the nation, and Heather doesn’t want to see others fall victim to a similar demise.

“It can happen to anyone,” she said. “It’s happening all over, and it’s happening all the time.”

It’s not easy to talk about, Heather said, and it’s still very hard for her to believe Chris is gone, but she’s doing all she can to honor him and find closure at the same time. It’s still hard for Heather to believe Chris is gone.

Chris’s death is hard to accept, Heather said, as it’s not how she’d like him to be remembered. There were many positive elements to her younger brother, and she wants to shed light on his brightness, too.

“He had a very adventurous spirit,” she said. “He was so full of life.”

 He was only 26 years old, Heather said, but he lived it to the fullest.

But on Oct. 8, 2016, his life came to an end, as have the lives of so many others. The more Heather researches overdose, the more her heart sinks, which is why she wants to warn students of the community to steer clear of drugs.

“Things happen, and, unfortunately, Chris was taken too soon,” she said. “That’s why I want to give this talk. Drugs are serious. You try them once and you could die.”

Chris was found with a combination of heroin and cocaine in his system. Heather was completely shocked. She didn’t know how long he was on this road or what she could have done if she had known earlier.

“That’s the toughest thing about this,” she said. “I was completely blown away. I knew he liked to party, but I just couldn’t believe it.”

Heather said she doesn’t know what she could have done differently, but she knows what she can do now: tell her story and be a signpost for overdose awareness.

“I told myself after my brother died that if I want to do something or go somewhere I’m going to do it,” she said. “Life is short and so precious. Please make the most of it and be thankful everyday you are here. And, whatever it is you’re doing, be cautious. You have no idea how it will affect you. Think of your family and friends.”

YPR Regional Chapter Coordinator Laurie Sweeney said she is very glad to have Heather involved, and hopes her story can help inspire people, not just to steer clear of drugs, but also to get involved with YPR and help those with substance abuse disorders stay the course of recovery.

“We hope this can be a kick-off event to help our Young People in Recovery program get going in the schools,” Sweeney said. “It is our goal to be more involved.”

The “Overdose Awareness and Recovery Project will take place Wednesday, Aug. 30 at 1 p.m. at the Fergus Center for the Performing Arts. The public is invited to attend.



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