From Paul and Cheryl Vanacore: Signs of Addiction


In a previous post, we shared with you the decision of Paul and Cheryl Vanacore of Lancaster, New York, to share their experience with their son Joshua – who is serving a prison sentence for drug-related robberies – in order to help other families. Among the experiences that they shared are the warning signs they noticed before they learned about their son’s addiction.

One of the signs started in May 2005; Joshua was no longer able to pay his car loan on time. He eventually admitted to his father that he was experimenting with painkillers and heroin. Their family doctor, however, said that Joshua did not seem to be addicted.

heroin addictionThen, other signs emerged – including money missing from the house. An over-the-counter drug test revealed that Joshua was “clean”; they were unaware, however, that the reason why it came out clean was that the drugs have already cleared his system at the time he took the test.

Paul Vanacore recalls: “He said, ‘I swear to God.’ That phrase will resonate in my head forever… ‘I swear to God, I’m not doing anything. I swear to God I didn’t take any money.’” They believed Joshua, and the clean test made them hopeful. However, when they noticed that Joshua was wearing a hoodie on a hot day, they found needle marks on his arm when they asked him to roll up his sleeves.

He underwent a five-day rehab program at the Erie County Medical Center, but he was back on heroin after a couple of weeks. He was unable to pay drug dealers – who beat him and threatened his then-pregnant girlfriend. His father at one time paid the dealer so that the threats would stop.

Eventually, they stopped giving him money – so he resorted to robbery.

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