Opioid epidemic: Local family loses father - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Opioid epidemic: Local family loses father

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Story Video: Click here

Governor Rick Scott has declared the opioid crisis a public emergency.

A record number of people died from overdoses last year in Palm Beach County. What the numbers don't show is the families that are destroyed by the drugs.

Like the Wiles family of Loxahatchee.

Betsy Wiles is a fighter. She knows the pain of losing the most important fight of her life. Keeping her son away from opioids and alive.

The Wiles family is like so many of your neighbors

Betsy worked for years at a bank. Her husband Jerry is a retired Palm Beach County firefighter.

"He was a cheerful person, everybody loved him. he never did harm," says Jerry of their son Bryan.

Bryan was a fisherman, a hunter, a father, and a husband.

"He's a character. He's got his daddy's looks and my personality," Betsy said.

Like many in South Florida, Bryan got hooked on opioids.

"We as parents didn't have a clue," Betsy said.

Bryan's parents did everything they could to save their son. They went to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Bryan and his family lived in their home for four years.

"You start to think, maybe they've whipped this," Betsy said, "but there is no whip in this. It stays with them for a lifetime."

Without Betsy or Jerry knowing, Bryan eventually slipped back into addiction.

"They keep the secrets, which is what kills them," Betsy said.

In Bryan's case. Betsy says he overdosed on a batch of pills he bought on the street.

"It was some bad stuff and that killed him," Jerry said.

In October 2016, the 41-year-old father of two lost his fight.

Bryan is one of the more than 500 people to die from opioids last year in Palm Beach County.

"It's destroyed our lives," Betsy says.

Their son is gone and now they're moving. 

They don't know where they're going.

But Palm Beach County is too painful.

Bryan's ashes are coming with them.

"He's close to us...we talk to him. We miss him. We tell him that every day," Betsy says looking at her son's urn.

They will always carry the pain of what the opioid epidemic did to their family in South Florida. There is now way for them to leave that pain behind.

"I just don't know how to get through it actually," Betsy says, "You give birth to a child and you love it unconditionally, and then it dies and trying to get through something like that it rips your heart and your soul out."

Scripps Only Content 2017

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