Wasted: Lives Lost to Meth II - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Paragould, AR--Tiffany Blankenship Reports

Wasted: Lives Lost to Meth II

November 22, 2005--Posted at 11:00 pm

PARAGOULD-- There are thousands of stories to be told about the effects of meth and it's powerful addiction, but many assume addicts are all the same... Junkies or misfits from broken homes.

Whatever your perception may be, this story may change your mind about addicts everywhere and their struggle with this devastating drug.

We'd like to introduce you to a meth addict who is out of the ordinary... And his family... Still mourning his death...

Ryan Johnson was a free spirit ... He attended a Christian college ... He was a lover of Christian music and sports. He wanted to become a teacher or a preacher ... To make a difference in the lives of others ...

But meth made all those dreams a blur...

"The night that he died, I think that he had just totally given up that he was never going to get off of crystal meth. He just let it consume him. He no longer believed that it was in control of it but that it was in control of him," Ryan's Mother Patsy Johnson says.

Suddenly his expectations were wasted with one last high... It was a night with friends and a temptation that was overwhelming ... Ryan Johnson overdosed ... His body was discovered on a county roadside.

"It robbed us of a family that we saw our son having... To play with his children, to spend Thanksgiving together, to spend Christmas together... We had that plan. We thought it was a spiritual problem. We did not know until Ryan's death that he could not, not do the crystal meth," Mrs. Johnson says.

Ryan was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at 13. It was a disability that his parents say you wouldn't even know he had unless you knew him... Still the struggle was hard.

"He said that God told him that he wasn't going to heal him, and that he was mad at him... If God wasn't going to heal him, he wasn't going to live for God," Mrs. Johnson says.

In his 20's, Ryan was introduced to meth.

"He just had his own mind made up that he was going to live his life and forget his problems with drugs," Mrs. Johnson says.

His addiction was an off and on battle ...

"Ryan did try to get his life on track. He really did," Mrs. Johnson says.

Ryan decided to go to rehab. His parents thought their battle was over. He returned home with a new outlook on life and a peace with god.

"We had no clue that he was so addicted that one week he could talk about preaching and the things he was going to do for god and our family... Just the expectations ... And then the next week or two, he would do crystal meth again," Mrs. Johnson says.

In those next few weeks, he died...

"We just expected what everyone expects out of life. That you'll grow old together, that you'll have accomplishments that your so proud of. Just that you'll be a family. I believe that the pull that it has, the addiction that it has, is so strong that he gave up everything to do the crystal," Mrs. Johnson says.

For a Christian family like the Johnson's, Ryan's death is hard to swallow.

After all those years of doing things right, how could things go so wrong?

For the the boy that was called to be a preacher, his family will keep the faith ...

"I would like for Ryan to be remembered as Danny and Patsy Johnson's son, as Jennifer's brother, as a young man who went to heaven early not because of what he did but because of what Jesus Christ did for him. Not because he deserved it but because we serve a god who is forgiving and Jesus died for his sins," Mrs. Johnson says.

Patsy and Danny Johnson are devoted to helping others with addictions.

Their church, Southside Community Church in Paragould, is collecting donations for the Grace Mission Bible Training Center that will help people with addictions and emotional problems like Ryan's.

They're trying to raise a $100 thousand, down payment to open the center that will be located at the Mississippi County Baptist Association Campground at Walcott.

Send Donations To: Southside Baptist Church, 2211 Jones Rd., Paragould, AR 72450

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