Transcript for Young Vermont Father Torn Between Family and Heroin: Part 1
Tonight we take you inside one young father's struggle. Torn between his family and his heroin addiction. He is only one of the countless Americans consumed by this most urgent epidemic. From Vermont all the way to south America we journey to the source of this multi-billion dollar industry to confront the realities of this dark trade. Here's fusion's Dan Lieberman with a special report brought to us by our sister network fusion. Reporter: Justin is torn between two worlds. You guys have never seen any of these. Daddy's first big buck. Reporter: One where he's a loving father, brother, son, living a quiet life in Rutland, Vermont. The town where he grew up. The other world is dark. You're the only people ever to see me do this. Reporter: Justin beemis is a heroin addict. Here I am. I hope you don't think any different of me of a seeing this. It's nasty. Ten minutes from now I'll be thinking about how I can get it again. Reporter: One of more than 600,000 users across the country where opoid abuse is at an all-time high. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Not me. I see somebody that has basically given up. Because of his drug use. It's kind of taken my spirit and squashed it. Reporter: Like four out of five heroin addicts Justin says he got hooked on prescription drugs first after he injured his back working as a tree cutter. He says when the prescriptions ran out and he could no longer get his hands on the expensive painkillers he turned to a much cheaper alternative. These are the track marks from the heroin? Yes. Anywhere else? Everywhere. You know, if you look up and down my arms it's disgusting. If you were to ask me if I'd ever touch a needle in my life, absolutely not. It is that powerful. This is Justin how old? Probably early 30s. He looks so healthy here. Oh, yeah. Reporter: These are Justin's parents. Art and Linda beemis. All the kids. And there's Justin right there. They all look so happy and healthy. Reporter: Justin was not their only child with a heroin problem. Five of their six kids have struggled with drug addiction. Jordan, Zachary, heroin. Justin, opiates, pain meds. Amy, alcohol, pain meds. If there's a drug, name it, I've probably done it. I was a full-blown heroin addict. When was the last time? Last week. How much? A bag. Do you ever look at yourselves and say, what did we do wrong? Oh, yeah. Every other day we talk about, what could we have done? What is it what could we have done different? Do you ever feel like you're enabling? Absolutely. I think that if anyone was an enabler in the family it's me. But as far as supporting with drugs, try not to anymore. Reporter: Of all their children Justin is doing the worst. We began documenting his struggle two years ago. I'm broken. And I don't want to break my family. Reporter: Back then Justin's niece Abigail had a hard time even recognizing her uncle. Justin, the one that I used to know, died. Like a tree fell on him and he died. Now this other guy that looks kind of like Justin is here. And he's been taking the place of my uncle. So this is where people come to get their heroin? Yeah, it's funny because the courthouse is right there. There's a sheriff's car right behind it. There's been a lot of deaths from bad heroin. Everybody's been afflicted by it one way or the other. Good families, bad families. It's got a grasp on this town like I've never seen. Reporter: Justin told me he burned through his life savings, spending $120,000 on heroin. You gave your parents your money so you wouldn't spend on it drugs. Right, then when they wouldn't give it to me I'd become very volatile, I'd become a person that they don't even know. I'd become a beast. Over the years, everything that we've ever had as far as personal items, jewelry, money, checkbooks, all gone. Hundreds of thousands. Stole someone. Stolen. From your own kids? Yes. Justin told us he actually gave his money to you guys so that he would stop buying drugs. Right. He still has to spent $500 a day sometimes. Correct. How does that affect you? It's very difficult. Because then on the other hand he's threatened us because he wants the money. You wouldn't want to even listen to the phone calls. Do you have your phone? I'm fine. Okay? All right. I'm so mad at you guys right now you have no idea. I want my money. Send me up a couple hundred Dollars so I don't have to sell your Because I will sell it. Before I kill your Wife because I will You and Kill you I'm at my Wits' end answer the Phone. Going through major withdrawals. That's serious. He's threatened to kill you. When you heard that message, were you scared? No. I don't think he'd do it. How does it feel to hear you threaten your dad and your mom? I can't believe it. Just hearing that out loud. Reporter: As horrible as the voice mails sound art and Linda say they never felt their lives were in danger. I can't believe I said that. Reporter: When he wasn't chasing his next high, Justin was talking about quitting. Even trying to get help. But with so many addicts like him seeking treatment, he couldn't even get in to see a doctor. I called 11 doctors. Not a one of them was taking on patients. It's hard enough to make that phone call, but then when you have to make 10 phone calls and get nowhere? You give up. Somebody's ready to get addiction treatment, they should be in treatment that day or the next day. Ideally. Because that window of opportunity can often pass. Reporter: Dr. Mark Logan runs an addiction treatment clinic. In the winter of 2014 Justin had been on his waiting list for ten weeks. Where is Justin? Justin -- gosh. Let's see. Reporter: There were hundreds on the waiting list in Vermont for a prescription drug that weans people off heroin. According to federal law doctors can only prescribe it to 100 patients at a time, in part to prevent it from being abused. I feel my hands are tied. Mostly because there's a cap. I wouldn't hesitate to go to 150 patients. Because we have the capacity to do that. And that would take -- that would wipe out my waiting list. At this point in time I feel that that cap should be eliminated. This thing is accelerating. Reporter: Recent years, Vermont's highways have become drug trafficking corridors. According to governor peter shumlin an estimated $2 million worth of heroin flows into the state every week. This is referred to as bums alley. Reporter: When it comes to battling heroin even undercover cops admit they can't keep up. We're definitely touching on the drugs coming into the community. But with the drive for people wanting to use still there, somebody else is going to replace who we take off the streets. It's just not working? No. Reporter: Even though law enforcement heroin seizures have increased more than 80% in the last five years, officials say that's only a fraction of the heroin actually being smuggled into the country. When we come back, we follow the heroin trail to its source where we find another family struggling. But in an entirely different way. Half a world away from Justin Bemis, whose addiction threatens to table him over the edge before he can get the help he so desperately needs. What should she do? As a drug addict talking? I'd say, give me some money.
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