UPDATE: Officials with Recovering Artists Worldwide have cancelled the Joe Nester Rise from the Ashes Tour, which was scheduled to perform Saturday.

Friday afternoon they posted the following statement on the Recovering Artists Worldwide Facebook page.

“Due to numerous complications with the promoter of the event in Sturtevant WI. We regret to inform all of our fans/supporters that we will not be performing in Sturtevant WI this Saturday. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Instead we have decided to perform live in Lansing MI this Saturday instead and open up for Lil Wyte at The Loft. We will see you all in Lansing this Saturday. #RAW

ORIGINAL STORY: Addicted to heroin for the past five years, Tina Hemer-Wright’s 20-year-old son David is not getting better.

Wanting to see the community pull together and do something positive around heroin treatment, Hemer-Wright is hosting a concert with the hope of bringing awareness to the problem. She connected with a song by Joe Nester, who is a recovering addict himself. Hemer-Wright can see similarities in Nester’s story and David’s. But she wants to offer a place where parents can come together. 

“There’s a lot of deaths from heroin and it’s because a lot of people don’t speak up and it doesn’t need to be,” she said. “They don’t speak up and say their child has a problem…. I guess I’m not ashamed.”

David’s Struggle With Heroin

She feels like the legal system hasn’t helped him enough, but understands that David needs to take charge of his own recovery. Right now he is serving time for several drug-related charges and for now that’s a good thing because he’s safe and not using. But in a few weeks, he’ll be let out on work release. She worries what will happen to him next.

The last few years have been a difficult road. David starting using marijuana at 14-years old and then started using heroin at 16-years-old. After overdosing, David was taken to St. Catherine’s Hospital in Kenosha and they found heroin in his system. A crisis worker from Kenosha County explained to Hemer-Wright that they couldn’t doing anything unless David was willing to get help.

“I was told at the age of 14, you can check yourself out of rehab… What the hell is that?” she said.

Officials told Hemer-Wright that if David didn’t have the drug in his possession, they couldn’t detain him. But if he overdosed he had possession of it, they could. Having state insurance, it was difficult to get David help. Many treatment centers don’t take state insurance.

“The result: It was still in his system and he was able to just leave,” Hemer-Wright said. “And he continued using.”

Trouble With The Legal System

David was kicked out school. Hemer-Wright started searching out places to get help. He did go to Rawhide, a program for at-risk youth. But returned to using shortly after.

He has been in jail several times. On an opioid-blocking medication called Vivitrol, David was due to get his next dose. But instead of getting it, he started using heroin again.

David stole his father’s car in November and later had to be revived with Narcan in a Burger King parking lot. He was sentenced to 120 days in December, but the sentence was stayed and he was released on 18 months probation. He was supposed to complete a drug and alcohol treatment program, but ended up getting charged in February with a possession of marijuana charge.

His lawyer told Hemer-Wright that he would be getting a mental evaluation, but that was never brought up in court. She feels David needs a mental evaluation and may be self-medicating.

She remembers her son the way he used to be — funny, polite, smart. But now he’s lost.

Hemer-Wright suffers from depression herself. Sometimes she doesn’t eat and a good nights sleep is hard to come by. She needs to focus on something positive.

“I want to do something… I can’t do anything for David, I guess,” she said. “I want to raise awareness about this. So people don’t feel so much shame and guilt. If their kids need help, get them help… or try.”

So Saturday night is for the parents of kids’ who are addicted to heroin. And she hopes that it will bring people closer together.

If you want to go:

What: Joe Nester: Rise of the Ashes Tour featuring Bobble and Gambo

When:  7 to 11 p.m. Saturday

Where: Hiawatha, 9809 Durand Avenue in Sturtevant. The tour is from Recovering Artists Worldwide.

How much: $12 for pre-sale and $15 at the door.

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol or other drug abuse, here are the resources available in Racine County.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.