Mayor and Son Speak Out About Addiction

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- No doubt about it, the water crisis has been tough on Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.

A year ago, you could have never told him that the son who was frustrating and scaring him because of addiction would be the person who would ultimately pick-him-up when he needed it most -- at the Rough 'N Rowdy competition of all places.

"I was very sad, the bad weather, and the water, and a certain amount of guilt I felt, I don't know why, I felt guilty about this whole thing," the Mayor explained. "I went down and watched him win that championship that night and that took, that was my inspiration. That is what I needed to see, and him up there competing individually."

The proud father went on to say, "Fighting, that took me out of all of it helped me tremendously."

It's a huge turnaround from where Jones and his son Zac where last year at this time. On March 7, 2013, the Mayor released a statement saying he was relieved that his son was arrested and going to jail after being found with cocaine.

The difference? Zac says he finally wanted to change.

"I've been trying to do this for a long time, and it finally took this time, I guess," he said.

"It didn't end until he got arrested, without my help and spent three months in jail," Mayor Jones explained.

Zac, 24, is a car salesman at Bert Wolfe. He is also living in the Kanawha Valley Fellowship Home -- a place where he and men just like him have support to steer clear from their addictions 24/7.

For so many families across our region, addiction is a struggle and a fight -- not just for the person addicted, but for the entire family.

"It's a domino effect. You don't realize how much what you do affects other people around you," Zac explained.

Mayor Jones, who has also struggled with alcohol addiction, said jail was a good first stop for his son and feels it would be a similar help for other families.

The elder Jones will be 20 years sober this May.

Zac explains that, when it comes to addiction, there is no magic answer

"It's nice to have someone there for you, but when it comes to where I was it can become enabling," he said.

"(Zac) went to good treatment twice, and he was OK for a while, but it's something you have to want to hold on to for dear life," the Mayor explained.

Mayor Jones says he understands how Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is feeling following his brother's arrest on federal charges that he was selling cocaine.

"Earl Ray just needs to let it go, be there, but no rescues, no rescues here, and when he gets out," Mayor Jones said.

He and Zac both understand being in the limelight when a deep and personal family issue comes to the surface.

"We brought each other bad attention," Mayor Jones said. "Obviously, he'd go for a bond hearing, he'd be on the front page in an orange jumpsuit. Obviously, that is not good for me but me being who I was, wasn't good for him in the jail, or among other folks."

So now, nearly a year into his recovery, Zac continues to do well in a new career and his father works to fight for the city he loves.

It represents restoring a reputation tarnished by a water crisis out of his control, while working to maintain a relationship that now is back in control and healthier than ever.

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