ASHLAND Brenda Roberts lost her son, Phillip Roberts, to addiction in 2015.
He was an honor roll student and student athlete, but he fell into drugs after the loss of his grandmother. He stayed in his after school activities and kept up his grades so Brenda Roberts didn’t suspect anything was wrong until the warning signs became obvious. Soon his life had spiraled out of control. Brenda said Phillip would tell his siblings to never experiment with drugs because it only took him two uses before he was addicted to heroin.
“He began begging us for money,” she said. “He would make up excuses of why he needed the money. It broke our hearts to tell him no.”
She shared her story during a forum discussion Tuesday night in Ashland at the Paramount Arts Center. The forum followed a showing of the movie “Beautiful Boy”, which is a movie based on the true story of a teen struggling with substance abuse. The event was held to raise awareness of the opioid crisis happening in the country and right here in Eastern Kentucky.
“Beautiful Boy” is based on the true story of a child struggling with substance abuse and his family’s journey to help him. After the movie, Brenda Roberts shared her story of losing her son to addiction. She participated in the panel discussion which addressed combatting the negative stigma addiction brings and how to take care of yourself when a loved is an addict.
“It has to start with the language we use that this is an illness,” said Kyle Gibson, who spoke on the panel and who is also in long-term recovery. “This is a disease. The term alcoholic or addict has a certain stigma to it. I’m a person living with a substance abuse disorder.”
The Golden-Goble nominated film was made in 2018 and starred Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan. It was also based off of the books “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction” by David Sheff and “Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines” by Nic Sheff.
One of the sponsors for the event was the Joshua Reliford Memorial Foundation.
“My brother passed away from the opioid crisis we have here in May of last year, and we started a foundation for him,” said Tyler Reliford, one of the founders of the Joshua Reliford Memorial Foundation. “With that we are trying to do more community events to bring more awareness to the issue we have in our state.”
The Joshua Reliford Memorial Foundation is an organization committed to investing in the lives of the youth of Eastern Kentucky. Joshua Reliford was a graduate of 2009 graduate of Ashland Blazer High School.
There was an event similar to this one held in Lexington recently. Tyler Reliford thought it would be a great thing to bring it to the Tri-State.
“I hope at some point this could save someone’s family in our community. That’s what this movie talks about. It’s not just the effect of the individual or the family itself but the whole community issue,” he said.
The other sponsors for the event were Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities Coalition, the Tri-County KY-ASAP Local Board, and the Paramount Arts Center.