Two friends launch awareness effort after Wheeling woman dies of overdose


They thought something might be wrong, but they hated to pry.

Then their dear friend was discovered dead of an overdose.

Tessa Joseph was no stranger to addiction, but she had been in recovery for two years.

Now two of her best friends say they want her legacy to be clear.

They’re on a mission to make Tessa’s final chapter one of honesty and helping others.

They say Tessa was fun, outgoing and always eager to help.

She was two years into her own recovery and carried the message to others.

But suddenly she was different.

“She wouldn’t respond to texts and she wouldn’t respond to calls,” said Lindsay Livingston, Tessa’s friend since childhood. “I really wish I’d gone there.”

Tessa’s mother couldn’t reach her daughter, so she went to her home in North Wheeling.

“She went inside and found her daughter, laying on her back in the kitchen,” said Michael Fuscardo of Martins Ferry, Tessa’s long-time friend.

Now Fuscardo and Livingston are learning that recovering addicts sometimes backslide by trying something other than their drug of choice.

“You can’t dabble with drugs,” noted Fuscardo. “You can’t have alcohol or marijuana.”

And even a miniscule amount is not safe.

“Just the tiniest bit can kill you because it’s getting laced with Fentanyl,” Livingston said.

They started a Go Fund Me account and they’re hoping to raise $3,000 for Shatterproof, a national organization that advocates for those struggling with addiction.

“Everybody wants to sugarcoat it and not put out there what the cause of death was because people don’t want to think badly about the person who has passed,” said Livingston. “But she never hid anything. She would want us to tell her story.”

Tessa, 30, had a bachelors degree in psychology, a job and many friends.

“Her mission in life was to help people, so I’m going to carry that on for her,” said Fuscardo.

They hope people will remember their friend’s good qualities, and donate to help others in facing the same challenges.

To access that account, log on to

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