By Frankie's mom, Jacqueline
I used to be a mother to four precious boys. That changed on February 5, 2012, at 6:04 a.m. when my oldest son, Frankie Prout, was pronounced dead at the age of 20 while living in a halfway house.
Let’s start from the beginning: Frankie grew up in Port Richmond in Philadelphia. As a child, he was loved by everyone. Around the age of 18, Frankie started to change. He wasn’t acting like his normal happy self and I knew something was wrong, but never in a million years would I have suspected that he was developing a drug addiction. It turns out he was using Percocet prescribed by a dentist.
By the time his use had escalated to crushing and snorting 30mg, he was stealing from and lying to his family and friends. He got locked up for robbing a car. When he returned home from jail he went right back to using. At this point, he had the option to get help or be homeless. We went to detox, but he was turned away the first time for an expired ID and a second time because he didn’t have enough drugs in his system. Frankie was so sick that he begged me to let him die. My heart was broken, I couldn’t stand to see him like that. In order to get enough drugs in his system to be admitted, I had to purchase Percocets for him to use. Detox accepted him this time and kept him for five days during which he celebrated his 19th birthday. When they ran out of beds he was right back on the street. Frankie stayed clean for three months before relapsing. His addiction got worse and worse. He desperately needed detox but there were no beds. Sick and defeated, he asked, “Mom, how can you love me? I’m a scumbag!”
We finally got him into detox again for five days. This time he celebrated Christmas there. When he was released, he went to an inpatient rehab and seemed to be doing well but his insurance ran out after 42 days. He was sent to a halfway house in the same neighborhood where he used to get high. He checked in on a Thursday afternoon and was out on the streets within the hour--he didn’t even get drug tested. He was living with eleven heroin addicts, all of whom were allowed to come and go as they pleased. On Saturday, Frankie came to my house for more clothes and blankets. I was surprised to see him and asked why he didn’t have any restrictions. When he didn’t answer I told him I was coming to check out the halfway house. Before leaving he said, “I love you, Mom, see you tomorrow.” Those were the last words I heard from him. He died of an IV heroin overdose in the bathroom of the halfway house where someone helped him get high and left him to die. The mother I used to be disappeared with my son.
No one should have to bury a child. When Frankie was little he used to ask me if there were monsters. I told him, no, but I lied--addiction is a monster.