Student Spotlight: Starting Over
Noblesville Native, Jason Shadoan, Beat His Addiction & Now Helps Others
Photographer: Amy Payne
“She said she was at rock bottom when she wrote Harry Potter, and I hope to use my own rock bottom to turn my life around and make a difference in the lives of others,” Shadoan says.
The Noblesville native said he began dabbling in drugs and alcohol at the age of 13 and what began as a recreational activity among friends quickly escalated into an all-consuming addiction. Still, he managed to think of himself as a “functional” until his father’s death led him to try heroin for the first time.
“That’s when everything spiraled out of control,” he says.
Within two years, he began amassing felony charges. He lost his car and his job and in July 2016, he was staring down an eight-year prison sentence. However, Judge Gail Bardach refused to incarcerate him without giving him a chance at a new lease on life. She admitted him to the Hamilton County Drug Court instead. On May 7, after 22 months, Shadoan graduated from the program. He was 733 days sober.
“My life should never have gotten to that point,” he says. “The thing is though, there is a serious heroin epidemic in Hamilton County and there are not enough resources to combat it.”
Shadoan says heroin does not discriminate between a kid from the wrong side of the tracks and someone with the financial means to hide their habit a little longer, but in most cases, they end up in the same place – a prison cell where they are expected to detox without support and accountability. While the Hamilton County Drug Court gives participants the opportunity to achieve long-term sobriety while enhancing their life skills, Shadoan feels there is more to be done.
In an effort to combat what he feels is a growing problem of heroin abuse in Hamilton County and the surrounding communities, Shadoan and his sponsor have begun hosting Heroin Anonymous (HA) meetings in Noblesville three nights a week. The original meeting was held on Friday evenings, but when Shadoan graduated from the drug court he helped expand the offerings to include meetings on Sunday and Wednesday evenings as well. The meetings have been well-attended and Shadoan estimates that he has roughly 42 participants.
“The one at the First Christian Church on Wednesday nights is neat because the pastor and his wife are really interested in getting involved in the community and finding what needs to be done,” Shadoan says. “The pastor’s wife feeds attendees before the meetings and then sits in on them so that they can learn how best to serve and support those who are trying to turn their lives around.”
Although he believes only those who truly want to make a change will be able to do so, Shadoan wants to make sure there are more options for them than a jail cell.
“I don’t have the money to make it happen, but I’m doing my part,” he says. “Still, I know that our community can do something more than it is doing to fight this epidemic.”
For information about HA meetings in Noblesville, visit heroinanonymous.org