Jazzmin's Journey: Paralyzed by heroin

Jazzmin Brown
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A young woman from Greenwood, paralyzed after overdosing on heroin, is now trying to keep other teens from making the same mistakes.

Her dreams were like any other suburban teenager.

"I expected to go to college," said Jazzmin Brown.

"That's where I thought she'd be right now," added her mom, Melissa VanHorn.

But Jazzmin's journey took her down a very different path - a 20-year-old, paralyzed by heroin after an overdose last October.

"I have wrist movement in this hand, no movement in legs or feet. I'm confined to my chair," Jazzmin explained. "Since I didn't know how much (heroin) you could do, I just did some and overdosed."

"It was heroin and Xanax and now she's a quadriplegic," VanHorn said.

Jazzmin admits she had some tough teen years. She was arrested 23 times. She drank and dabbled in drugs like weed and prescription pills.

But when she hit heroin, she nearly died.

"Heroin is known as the devil's drug. It just takes so many lives," Jazzmin said.

Now, her life is forever changed by a drug more Hoosier teens are trying than ever before. A recent study found one in every 100 Indiana high school seniors is using heroin. That's more than double the national average.

"People say, 'It won't happen to me.' Well that was me," Jazzmin said. "I just think they need to be educated young, like seriously, and that's what I'm trying to do."

This young survivor now has a mission and a message for other teens. She speaks to kids in schools, as well as to parents and addiction groups all across central Indiana about the dangers of heroin.

She's also going to Washington, D.C. soon to speak at an anti-drug rally in front of 2,000 people.

At Pittsboro Primary School Thursday night, there were surprised faces in the crowd as she rolled up to the podium. Just seeing Jazzmin in her chair affects people, but she hopes hearing her message saves lives. It's sprinkled with humor and faith and sobering facts.

Judging by the applause and reaction in Pittsboro, she hit her mark.

Despite what her doctors say, Jazzmin's confident she will walk again. Her journey from addict to advocate is now based on what she calls a God-given purpose.

"I know I will walk and I know I'm helping people," she said, "and you know, when times are tough, I just look up. This too shall pass."

Jazzmin's Journey Facebook page