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Fentanyl Frontlines: Marckelly's Story

Posted at 1:35 PM, May 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-09 06:57:16-04

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says one drug is involved in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any other cause of death.

That includes heart disease, cancer, homicide, suicide, and other accidents.

That killer is fentanyl.

It’s a drug Port Charlotte resident Marckelly Joseph knows well. In fact, fentanyl is just one of the drugs he’s used for the majority of his life.

“I’ve been using since I was 13.”

We first met the now 35-year-old while he received treatment at the David Lawrence Center in Naples days before Thanksgiving 2022.

He shared his drug history with us, and it ranges from marijuana to cocaine.

His challenges in life weren’t solely tied to drug usage.

"I have a long criminal record. Sales and delivery…trafficking…battery…everything that had to do with drugs."

Going to treatment is not new to Joseph.

He tells us he’s tried to get clean prior to this program, but has relapsed multiple times.

“I got my own apartment. I became a supervisor at a recycling plant…doing my thing…moved in with a girl…and we relapsed together.”

A back injury landed Marckelly in the hospital and he says while there, he was introduced to fentanyl.

His most recent relapse, he says, was due to Hurricane Ian.

When the storm knocked out power and phone communication for thousands in Southwest Florida, Marckelly says he was close to completing another treatment program.

“I did 21 days out of 28 days."

But a lack of accountability opened the door, once again, to use.

"I don't have to contact anybody, I don't have to see anybody…so I took it as an opportunity to get high again."

At the time we first spoke, Marckelly credited the staff at the David Lawrence Center for helping him to believe that this release could be different.

He told FOX 4’s Shari Armstrong that he believed that, too, and he set a major goal to help keep him motivated: seeing his children for the first time in years.

“When was the last time you saw your kids?”, Shari asked.

“Couldn’t tell you,” he shared.

A reality he hoped would change soon after his release.

But his release did not come without hesitation and fear.

"Even though as a man I'm ready for that. That’s what I want. You know, at the same time…what I've gone through…I may not be ready. I might need more time."

Months passed since our original interview with Marckelly.

We reconnected with him in his hometown of Port Charlotte.

That’s where he proudly sported a new driver’s license and told us all about his new job as a fire watcher at a major construction site.

A proud Marckelly successfully completed treatment at the David Lawrence Center and was able to have Thanksgiving dinner with his family.

As for his drug use, he’s very proud of his fight.

“I’ve been five months clean.”

He credits church and frequent check-ins with a sponsor.

But he says the truth is that the desire to get high doesn’t just go away.

“I deal with temptation every day. I struggle with it every day, “ he shares.

“I want to get high right now."

The fight is constant, he says.

But so is his desire to see his five children.

That’s a constant reminder, Marckelly tells us.

“There’s another way.”

For more information on treatment programs like the one Marckelly most recently completed, you can visit the David Lawrence Center here.

WATCH: Extended Interview with Marckelly Joseph

Extended Interview: Marckelly Joseph

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