Kevin Jones said his life has never been the same since May 10, 2013.
That was when his stepdaughter, Jessica Gentile, died of a drug overdose. Jones later founded the Heroin Epidemic Action League, which raises awareness of the idea that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing, among other services. Jones said he didn't know Jessica had an addiction until she had died. He said he is "not the same person anymore" after that day.
"It's like the whole world is entirely different from that point on," Jones said.
Several people, including law enforcement, emergency personnel and those in recovery, spoke at a panel after a screening of the substance abuse documentary "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict." Millard Fillmore Elementary in Moravia hosted the screening of the film Thursday night. Several tombstones of central New York people who died of drug overdoses, with their names and an image attached, were displayed right outside the auditorium entrance. The tombstones were an idea facilitated by Jones. The film covers several people who had struggled with drug addiction, including those who first used as teenagers and adults.