Shining a spotlight on the heroin epidemic

Palm Beach Post profiles 216 overdose cases
Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-18 18:35:01-05

Real people dying from a real illness. In a special report on the heroin crisis in Palm Beach County, our news partner The Palm Beach Post will share the stories of the 216 heroin overdose victims who died last year. One of those victims was Josie Mischniak, 26. 

Josie was the silliest of her six siblings. But, her sisters Amanda Mischniak and Ambrosia Wilder say there was so much she hid behind her glowing smile.

“You would never know by looking at her and her smile that she was in so much pain,” said Amanda.

Josie’s addiction started at a young age. Her self-esteem and battle with anxiety led her to pills like Xanax.

“She felt as though she didn’t quite fit in and the drugs became a way for her to be social,” said Amanda.

But when the pill mills shut down, it got harder to support her habit. Josie moved on to heroin. Her sisters tried to help Josie get clean, but she was too far gone.

The last time they saw her was Christmas Day 2015.

“I saw a defeated-ness in her. She was totally defeated and I went home and I prayed I said 'Lord I can't see her like this anymore I don't want her to be like this' and that was the last time that I saw her like that,” said Ambrosia.

Josie died December 26th. Her sisters say the autopsy revealed she died of a fentanyl overdose.

“It didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel like it could possibly happen,” said Amanda.

Last year 216 people died in Palm Beach County from heroin-related overdoses.

“Where's the outrage? When do we come together and say this is a problem that needs to be solved and it needs to be solved right now,” added Amanda.

Now they remember Josie for who she was, not what consumed her.