Family of opioid overdose victim hopes her story will help others

Northshore family warns about the effects of opioids

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - “She was the oldest of three of us. She was the oldest and I was the youngest but I always wanted to be like her. She was my role model in everything,” says Laura Mizell.

Mizell looked up to her sister, Shonda Williams.

Life, though, for the sisters started going in different directions when Williams was about 22-years-old. Mizell says her sister started using drugs with friends.

“It started with shooting up oxycontin back when that was big when it first started coming around. I’ll never forget her saying as first she couldn’t shoot herself up and they had to do it for her, and I guess she was just going to try it you know,” says Mizell.

It wasn’t a one time experience for Williams. She soon became an opioid addict. Mizell says Williams drug of choice was prescription pills.

“I mean she cleaned up a bunch of different times in her life but the kids were taken. They were little bitty. They had come to live with me and my mom. I was still at home then,” says Mizell.

Eventually, Williams ended up in jail and served 4 yeas of an 8 year sentence for theft. When she got out, Williams lived with her sister.

“As sisters, I always tried. We still had that bond and I wanted her to do better and I tried and I tried. I always hoped for better,” says Mizell.

She says her sister stayed clean for a while, but before long she was back

She says her sister stayed clean for a while, but before long, her addiction took over again. Mizell says Williams drug use moved from prescription pills to heroin and she began overdosing.

“When she overdosed and they administered the Narcan I guess it sobered her up too much and someone actually carried heroin to her in the hospital,” says Mizell.

On Friday, Sept. 20, Williams daughter found her mom on the floor of their apartment unresponsive.

“The paramedics that were working on her were about to pronounce her dead but I think they worked on her for a few more minutes just for the sake of not having to carry their mom out in a body bag in front of them,” says Mizell.

Williams was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Mizell says the drug screen showed only a trace of heroin in her system.

“The nurse told us whatever it was that she injected had to be a synthetic because it doesn’t show up on drug screens,” says Mizell.

Mizell believes her sister injected a dose of pure fentanyl with a trace of heroin.

“As soon as it entered her body, she just dropped down. No questions about it, it just shut her down immediately. It wasn’t a slow process, “ says Mizell.

Williams’ family is heartbroken, and they hope her story will help others to choose a different path.

“I don’t think the first time that she ever chose to shoot up oxycontin that she had any idea the hold that it would have on her,” says Mizell.

Williams was 42 years old and suffered from an opioid addiction for 20 years.

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