Jonathon Koth

Jonathon Koth

Intelligent, magnetic, prankster, sensitive, authentic

There are three things about addiction that Jon’s mother, Lisa, wants everyone to understand:

1. Addiction affects indiscriminately.

Life was an adventure, and Jon always took the wheel. Attending high school dances in audacious purple alligator-print shoes and a fur coat, wearing his bathing suit in the rain so passing cars would splash him and his sisters Maddie and Marie, taking spontaneous road trips—every moment was an opportunity for joy. When his friend accidentally dropped an egg, the breaking point after an already bad day, Jon threw another egg down. And another. He encouraged his friend until they smashed the whole carton, laughing hysterically. He taught his puppy, Piglet, to be smart and sweet like him.

Jon also had a quiet, scholarly side. Though he struggled to graduate, he earned scholarships on his ACT scores alone. He attended accounting and finance classes at college and enjoyed reading about human nature and stoic philosophy. After taking a break to focus on treatment for his addiction, he planned to continue studying and find his passion.

2. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want help.

Lisa remembered one group leader asking Jon what he wanted to do in recovery.
“I’d like to save my dad,” he said. Jon’s father also struggled with addiction and later passed away when Jon was nineteen.

The group leader asked Jon to stand on a chair, representing his recovery, while the group leader stood on the ground. When Jon tried to pull him onto the chair “into recovery,” the leader tugged and pulled Jon down with him.

Jon experienced traumas in his adolescence that led him to self-medicate. The ensuing ten year-struggle with addiction made him feel isolated and misunderstood. He sometimes lashed out against loved ones, forgot chunks of his life, struggled with both physical and mental pain while trying to maintain sobriety. Jon didn’t want anyone else to feel alone on their journey. He considered working as a recovery agent or private investigator to help families search for lost loved ones who were fighting addiction.

3. Sometimes, well-meaning family and friends unknowingly cause challenges.

and Jon shared many fond memories with his family—summers at the cottage, card games in the back seat on road trips, even a Warped Tour, and hang-gliding. They enjoyed many family traditions, too, like “Love You Heart” waffles, “jam day,” and cookie-making weekends.

Jon loved his family above all else and never wanted them to worry about him; their well-meaning questions could cause anxiety.

“Like so many, Jon was ashamed of his drug use,” Maddie said. “We rarely knew the extent of it or which drug it was. This caused a degradation of trust and concerns about manipulation and codependency.”

In those ten years, Jon experienced peaks of recovery. Lisa celebrated each time, happy for their proud moments along the way. She misses his smile, and the past, present, and future Jon.

Maddie shared: “I see bits of Jon in most people I’ve met who suffer from addiction. They have all been extremely intelligent, charming people who have had to suffer more than a person should. I have gained so much empathy for them. I carry Narcan with me everywhere now and give it to my friends because I know how quickly opioids and fentanyl can take precious lives. Jon is irreplaceable, and the void he leaves behind is immeasurable. I will miss everything about my brother endlessly.”

Jon’s mother, Lisa Carr, and sisters, Maddie and Marie Koth, provided the information for this narrative.
January 16, 1995-November 29, 2022–Age 27

Portrait Artist: Jeremy Hebbel
Narrative Writer: Angela Day

Share this story from The INTO LIGHT Project

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

More Into Light Stories

Read more biographies from this exhibit.
Devin Hart Bearden

Devin Hart Bearden

Caring, athletic, bright, witty, attractive At 6’2”, Devin was lanky, handsome, and a natural athlete. Equally at home on a skateboard, snowboard, or when surfing, he was a pleasure to watch; so fluid and graceful. He was a good soccer and baseball player and loved hiking in nature or being at the beach, especially on the annual family beach trips to Hatteras in North Carolina. [...]
Read More »
Ralph Edward Beightol

Ralph Edward Beightol

Exuberant, creative, loved-filled, sad, tragic Ralph was truly an unstoppable force. Determined, curious, and creative, he always found a way through obstacles and onto the next adventure. Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, he did not learn how to read until the fourth grade–but that didn’t slow him down. He developed a variety of hands-on skills outside of the classroom. A tinkerer and builder extraordinaire, he taught himself how to fix bikes and cars before eventually designing, building, and renovating his own home. He continued with school and earned a degree at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado.[...]
Read More »
Conner Thomas Bomberg

Conner Thomas Bomberg

Loving, generous, available, fun, favorite companion Conner was a bright star. His superpower was his sensitivity to those in need, who he helped without question in any way he could. He lit up the room with electricity and had a way of connecting to people in a sensitive, kind manner, gravitating to anyone on “the fringe.” Conner gave people rides, clothing, shoes, his presence. He felt their pain deeply, which sometimes left him feeling helpless and anxious.[...]
Read More »
Phillip S. Doyle

Phillip S. Doyle

A needed person, needlessly taken Phillip was born with a heart condition, yet he didn’t let it slow him down. In fact, Phillip was such a loving, kind, caring, and giving person, it was as though his heart fully embraced these traits from the moment he was born.[...]
Read More »

Bring an Exhibit to Your State

Interested in bringing The INTO LIGHT Project to your State?
Find out how you can make this happen.