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BONUS: How's Josh

Where It Hurts

Host Sarah Jane Tribble checks in on Josh, the teenager who was coping with his aging grandparents and the emotional burden of his mother’s opioid death. Josh’s troubles began before Fort Scott’s hospital closed but worsened after. Sarah Jane gives Josh a call to find out his next steps.

Episode Transcript

Editor’s note: If you are able, we encourage you to listen to the audio of “Where It Hurts,” which includes emotion and emphasis not found in the transcript. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Hey there, this is Sarah Jane Tribble, reporter and host of Season One of the Where It Hurts podcast. Since I last saw 17-year-old Josh, I've been hearing that he's gotten into some trouble. It's been about 10 months, and Josh was sent to drug rehab. He just got out. So, I checked in with him.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Hello, this is Sarah.

JOSH: Hi, this is Josh.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Hey, Josh, thanks so much for giving me a call back. I really appreciate it.

JOSH: Yeah, no problem.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE:  Well, congratulations. Is that the right thing to say about what you've been through and getting out of?

JOSH: Yeah, it feels good. I can tell you that much.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Josh says, “It feels good.” He's just two days out of rehabilitation. The last time I saw him, I had walked through the front door of his grandmother Pat's house. I wanted to ask a few follow-up questions. And there he was, half-dressed and lying awkwardly backwards on a bed that I could see from the front door. Earlier that day, Josh had told me he thought about his mom a lot. His mom had died of an opioid overdose years ago when he was a toddler. And Josh had looked me straight in the eyes and promised he only smoked marijuana. Nothing else. That was not true.

JOSH: Opioids, meth, I tried heroin. I've done about every drug in the book.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: He means marijuana, opioids and meth. Josh tells me that drugs were his way of coping with everything in his life — his mother's death and absence, his dropping out of school, and then his grandparents getting older and sicker. Josh found himself losing control. He described being awake for days because of drugs and then falling out, sleeping deeply. He had some run-ins with the police. His grandparents, Pat and Ralph, kicked him out.

JOSH: And then it just all caught up with me and I went to jail.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Josh ended up in juvenile detention, and a judge sent him to rehab in Kansas City to get cleaned up. After being in juvie, Josh says rehab felt like a place where he was finally getting some help.

JOSH: One of the staff gave me a brand-new pair of shoes because my shoes were all torn up and rips in ’em and everything else. They helped me out with clothing because I gained a bunch of weight back. And one of the staff even went out to a store and bought me a whole bunch of Nike clothes and stuff like that. Yeah, I mean, it was, honestly, I liked it. I have no complaints.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Josh talks to me about getting a job, going back to school. He says maybe he'll become an auto mechanic or possibly a registered nurse. And when Josh talks about the future, he's hopeful.

The Where It Hurts podcast is produced in partnership with KHN and St. Louis Public Radio. If you want to hear more of Josh's story, we tell it in Episode Six.

Sarah Jane Tribble