Kierstin Jenkins is determined not to let her brother’s death become another statistic. Alex Jenkins, 26, of Akron, died of a drug overdose on Monday.
“I would like people to know that addiction affects everyone,” she said. “He had all these people in his life that were affected by his addiction.”
Jenkins, of Guilford Township, is talking publicly about her brother’s death as a way to raise awareness about the lack of treatment options — especially in-patient treatment facilities in Medina County.
She has set up a memorial fund on the website Youcaring.com with the hope of raising money to donate to a Medina County nonprofit looking to set up an intensive rehab center.
“I know when my brother was looking for places to rehab, he couldn’t find anything in Medina County and had to go to a place an hour away and was on a waiting list,” she said. “We just had to hope that nothing bad happened in that time he was waiting.”
As of Friday night, the memorial fund had more than 800 shares and had raised about $6,100 with 29 days left to donate. The money beyond its $4,500 goal will go toward establishing the rehab facility.
Jenkins has the support of her parents. Chip Jenkins, of Guilford Township, said his son had been dealing with addiction for years and complained that every time he would seek treatment he would have to go outside of Medina County.
“We tried to help him as much as we can but it just wasn’t enough,” he said. “More resources in the county might have made the difference.”
The father said he would receive calls from Alex sobbing because he couldn’t seek the help that he needed to deal with his addiction.
“There isn’t any place that we could take Alex when we were going through all this,” he said. “The system is not in place in Medina County to help these people.”
The father said his son suffered from a severe addiction that needed more than support groups and a 12-step program. He said his son needed the intense support that could only come from an in-patient facility, where he would live and be closely monitored.
“It would be nice to create something in Medina that does help these people that need in-patient rehabilitation,” he said.
Kierstin Jenkins described her brother as a loving person who became overwhelmed by problems. She said he became addicted to drugs at the age of 18, but was clean for two years before relapsing last week.
She suspected her brother died because he had lost much of his tolerance for drugs.
“We loved each other very much,” she said. “He had been clean for about two years and he overestimated his ability to handle to the drug because he hadn’t handled it in so long.”
Chip Jenkins said the goal of the fundraising drive was fewer unnecessary deaths.
“We are adamant to prevent other parents and families from suffering the same pain that we are going through right now,” the father said.
Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.