Updated: Aug 11, 2020
By Joey's mom, Jill
Joseph (Joey) Martin
Yucca Valley, California
On October 30, 1990, my husband and I were blessed with the arrival of a beautiful baby boy, Joseph (Joey) Martin. Growing up, Joey was a happy child. He was very outgoing, he had many friends, and he loved to be around them, his family, and his dog. Whenever Joey walked into a room he always captured the attention of others with his contagious smile and laughter. He loved all outdoor activities and looked forward to the days he and his father would go fishing. He was also passionate about baseball and skateboarding and he was very good at both. Joey was smart, had plans for his future, and had a beautiful heart. Every year he would volunteer at the annual Special Olympics bowling tournaments; he always had a special place in his heart for helping those with special needs. As Joey’s parents, we had high hopes for his future and knew he would succeed in life. Unfortunately, his dreams slowly deteriorated as his addiction progressed.
At the age of 14 or 15, Joey was caught smoking marijuana. We did what any concerned parent would do in this situation: we kept a close eye on him, his friends, and his activities. We thought we were always one step ahead of his addiction. Joey’s grades were good and he started playing baseball again. Looking back, we think he was probably smoking marijuana all along. We believe his continued marijuana use, combined with the trauma from a horrific car accident a few years later, helped fuel his progression to prescription pills.
In 2007, Joey and four friends were in a car accident. They were hit head on by a drunk driver, who had been racing on the wrong side of the road. Despite the terrible injuries received, and by God's grace, everyone lived. The following six years of Joey's life were spent going from doctor to doctor trying to relieve the source of the pain he had been complaining about. As his parents, we knew the effects prescription opioids would have on his young developing brain and wanted to ensure he would not receive these medications. At 17 years old, one doctor suggested Joey take a drug called Tramadol, assuring us that Tramadol was a safe alternative to alleviating Joey’s pain.
As the years went by, Joey’s need for a more powerful drug grew. His addiction was fueled by doctor prescribed pain medication. When Joey turned 18 years old, he was able to get almost anything he wanted from doctors. If Joey ran out or couldn't get drugs from doctors, he would get them from people he knew. By 19, Joey had a real problem - the need to relieve his pain turned into the need to get high. He spent the next three years in and out of treatment centers and sober living facilities.
In 2012, Joey enrolled into a treatment center in Loma Linda, CA and was living in the suggested sober home not far away. When Joey was six months clean, he decided he was ready to come back home. We were very hopeful that Joey was finally on track to living a sober lifestyle. Unfortunately, like many young individuals today, Joey did great until he met with a supplier and relapsed.
Shortly after his relapse, Joey contacted the previous house manager of the sober living facility in California and asked if he could go back. Three months later, on January 11, 2013, my husband got a phone call that no parent ever wants to get: Joey died of an overdose. He was just 22 years old.
Losing our son was the absolute worse thing that could ever happen, and the pain is unbearable at times. This once vibrant young man who loved life was gone! Joey’s death has made a huge impact on his family, friends, and to all those who loved him dearly.
We were left numb and in disbelief - wondering how this could happen in a home that we thought was a safe, sober, and structured environment. Many circumstances surrounding our son's death led us to believe the operators of this sober home neglected to create a safe and sober environment. Through his death, my husband and I have made it our mission to see that sober homes, like these, are safe and free from drugs for individuals who reside in them.
Over the last three years we have learned a lot through our tragic loss. We continually experience a great amount of peace knowing our son is no longer struggling. We will never forget our Joey. We cherish all the great memories we had with him.