JAMESTOWN – The family of a 22-year-old Jamestown man who fatally overdosed is speaking out, and sharing their story, in hopes of helping others.
Chyann Howard and Ellen Mesler, both older sisters of Randy Mesler Jr., spoke with WNY News Now after their brother overdosed last week.
Mesler Jr. was incarcerated in the Chautauqua County Jail for over a year, in what his family said was a blessing in disguise, as he was able to receive help for his addiction issues.
“Their thought process is not the same as yours and mine is, they don’t have that decision make skills when this addiction is taking over,” explained Howard. “The barriers that are set, I know that it’s not just Chautauqua County, and this is not the first person that this has happened too, and there is where the issue is.”
Howard says that her family was afraid when Mesler Jr. was released from custody, he would relapse. Unfortunately, she says their fears came true after his attorney petitioned to have him released.
“To me they (his attorney, courts and county jail) fed him to the wolves, they knew that he would either one, end up in jail, or two, die,” said Howard. “It took less than 24-hours for our little brother to die.”
Before overdosing, Mesler Jr. was staying temporarily with his father living in Jamestown. He leaves behind a daughter, who is in the care of his sister Chyann.
“I’ve had her since she was born, she is now 16-months-old, he hasn’t seen her in a year because he was away,” said Howard. “He was supposed to come over yesterday, my dad had called me and I figured he was telling me that they were on their way, I called, and that was definitely not what I thought he was going to say.”
His sisters say their brother’s drug of choice was heroin and meth, however they are waiting for official word on what he took. Years ago, the young man tried getting help from the recovery program at UPMC Chautauqua Hospital in Jamestown, however that did not help.
“He was allowed to go outside and go for a walk, with someone else who was also an addict,” explained Mesler. “They just kept walking, and all they (the hospital staff) could so was say, ‘hey, please come back.’”
She says there is a stigma which surrounds addicts, something the sisters hope can be cleared up.
“Before this happened, he was not this person that he was when he passed away,” said Howard. “This drug took over him, and yes for a few years it defined him, but he was the most bubbly, outgoing, fun person before this took over, and I know when he first tired it he wasn’t like this is going to ruin my whole like, he was a teenage boy and this was exciting for him.”
“A lot of people thought of him as a theft, but he really wasn’t,” said Mesler. “He was a really good boy, and we all loved him a lot.”
The two have a simple message to others who may be struggling.
“Get help if you need help, don’t worry about judgement, and if you’re family, fight, fight until the system helps you,” furthered Howard. “Do not let them just throw your loved one on the street, because this should not have happened.”
His family was hopeful Mesler Jr. could find help out of the area, but say it is hard to find resources. Earlier this year, Chautauqua County officials launched a new website, CombatAddictionCHQ.com, that aims to help addicts find recovery.
When we told the sisters about the platform, they had no idea it existed, a site they say should be advertised more.