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Addict: It’s never too late to get help

Casey Koesling poses Will County Courthouse Joliet IL Thursday April 12  2012. He is recovering heroaddict currently participating drug

Casey Koesling poses at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, IL on Thursday April 12, 2012. He is a recovering heroin addict currently participating in a drug court program to rebuild his life. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 14, 2012 8:18AM



JOLIET — One year ago today, Casey Koesling was due to appear in court as a condition of his bond from a heroin bust two months earlier.

“That was my fourth time getting caught, but everytime I’d hired a lawyer and gotten away with it,” he said. “I knew I’d have to get a drug test, but I still used heroin the day before. I thought I could just drink a lot of water and if anything showed up show my prescription for painkillers.”

But when Casey’s results came back, Judge Carla Alessio-Policandriotes had him spend more than six months in jail.

“I’m very grateful she did,” he said Thursday as he finished the first level of Will County’s drug court program.

Casey grew up in Wilmington and began abusing prescription drugs in high school because they made him feel comfortable. He soon learned heroin was cheaper to buy and even more economical to sell.

“I’d go down to Cicero Avenue and go back to Wilmington where it was easy to find customers to buy from me. Everybody I knew was dopesick and I could make $500 or $600 a day,” he said.

Casey’s parents tried taking away his car and having him live with relatives, but he always came back to his addiction.

Besides knowing most police officers on a first-name basis, Casey was revived from overdoses by paramedics seven times.

“It’d force me to pause for, like, a day and then I always went right back to it. I overdosed one day and they got called to a fire right after (I revived) and didn’t search me. So I left the hospital the next day and found heroin in my pocket, got home and overdosed again,” he said.

The death of “more friends than he can count on both hands” from overdoses didn’t induce Casey to quit either.

He tried rehab because his mother wanted him to. He did drugs while he was there. He was also given a suboxin drug to deal with the craving for heroin, but he never felt it helped.

When Casey’s daughter, Kennedy, was born hours after he was released from jail in February 2011, he began to consider signing up for the drug court.

After being released from the county jail in November, he went for a 90-day stay at another rehab facility. It soon “clicked that I can’t do this on my own” and the lessons emphasized in a 12-step program began making a difference in his approach.

While working in a warehouse and living in a halfway house, Casey is required to attend support meetings three days a week. He goes to at least seven.

“It’s people who’ve gone through the same thing sharing a common solution,” he said.

He said it was easy to disassociate himself from the users he used to know, except Kennedy’s mother, who is also in the drug court program.

“My daughter’s healthy. She’s just over a year old and wants to get up and go. That’s how I spend my free weekends. I come down and just play with her and her toys,” he said.

Casey wants his story to serve as an example it’s never too late for an addict to seek help. As his recovery continues, he’d like to eventually become a drug counselor to give back the help he got, while warning others from trying the drug.

“Heroin is going to introduce you to a life of misery. You have the easiest chance of dying your first time and I’ve rarely seen someone try it and not go back (for more) the next day,” Casey said. “You lose everything. I’ve seen whole families just get torn apart.”



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