Skip to main content.

Drug addiction separated father, son

Fellowship Story Showcase

Drug addiction separated father, son

Picture of Emily Hagedorn

After a stay at Clay County Detention Center, a father is on the road to recovery and reconnecting with his son. This story is part of a series that examines prescription drug abuse in Kentucky.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Seventeen-year-old John Maco Deaton IV still has the weekly letters his father sent him about three years ago from the Clay County Detention Center.

They usually included something about how his father was doing, how much he wanted to see John and how much time was left in his sentence for possession of narcotics, DUI, wanton endangerment and evading police, among other charges.

But John never wrote back.

“I didn't know what to say,” the Breathitt High School junior said.

John, who lives with his mother, was 2 years old when his father became addicted to OxyContin and morphine.

“He told me so many times that he was going to quit for me, but he had never done it,” John said. “It hurt me a lot, but I always looked up to him.”

Despite the separation, Deaton tried to stay in contact with his son, which often included promising him things he couldn't deliver.

John said he lost trust in adults.

“I didn't really know what to do, so I just kept it bottled up,” he said. “I just kind of went on living or tried.”

But even John admits he's one of the lucky ones. His father survived.

While in jail, John Maco Deaton III said he accepted Christ, which put him on the path to sobriety.

Before he was released in May 2008, he said he “got down in that nasty public bathroom in the jail, got on my knees and prayed, ‘Please, please don't let me get messed up on that stuff again.'”

Deaton said he knows he hurt his son.

“The drugs became more important than he did, though I wouldn't admit that at the time,” he said.

He now tours churches and schools, giving his testimony, and he leads a Lifeline class, a support group for recovering addicts. John also has accepted Christ after seeing his father's transformation.

"I don't miss church," John said. "It's something we do every Sunday."

Deaton said he and his son are moving forward.

“He's seen what drugs will do to a person,” Deaton said. “It takes everything you love and buries it so deep that nobody can see it.”

Reporter Emily Hagedorn can be reached at (502) 582-7086.