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Arizona family featured in documentary about opioid epidemic

Posted at 7:21 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 21:21:27-05

SAFFORD, AZ — A new documentary talking about the opioid epidemic features an Arizona mayor and his wife talking about the drug-related death of their 25-year-old son.

Safford Mayor Jason Kouts and his wife Maria Kouts, a pastor, were interviewed in the film named after their son, Josiah.

Josiah was 25 years old when he died from a drug overdose.

His family said he was using fentanyl and heroin after being described painkillers.

"He was just not the kid you'd ever think would test drugs," said Maria.

"Our kids were in sports, we thought we raised them well, we did not realize that drugs do not discriminate," she added.

Josiah's story is being told by award-winning filmmaker Joe Carlini.

The movie exposes the dangers of opioids and their impact on families.

According to the CDC, between May 2020 and April 2021, more than 100,000 people have died from drug overdoses.

Jason has tried improving access to resources in Safford but hasn't got the supported needed just yet.

Still, he told ABC15 if he can save one life by sharing his struggles, it's worth it.

"We can change one life by education," he said.

The movie will be showing on Dec. 14th at the Majestic 7 in Tempe. Carlini said he plans on bringing it back in the spring for an encore presentation.

He said the message is geared toward different age groups including young people.

"I think for kids they need the educational part because they can start off (using) something recreational like marijuana and then it's 'hey let's try this' and trying something can lead to an addiction that can ultimately turn into a death sentence."