Collateral damage


A cautionary heroin tale

By A DCP Writer

Photo: A heroin addiction can be a mental, emotional, and financial drain on resources, even if you’re not the one using

Editor’s note: Dayton was rated the worst U.S. city for drug overdoses, with an approximate 50 percent death rate, by last May. Data was gathered from public resources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, backdated to 2014, what it cites as the “latest year for [national public] data.” About a year ago, toward the start of 2016, the number of drug overdose deaths in the county spiked by 130 percent compared to the first quarter of 2015, as reported by The Montgomery County Poisoning Death Review, which tracks and analyzes unintentional drug overdose deaths (a collaboration between Wright State’s Boonshoft School of Medicine and the Coroner’s Office). The identity of this story’s writer has been withheld and all names replaced to protect the author from potential harm. 

Apple’s 2016 Christmas TV ad was sentimental and meant to demonstrate that anyone, or anything, could successfully use an Apple product. But the subtext was about redemption and acceptance. (If you haven’t seen the ad, search YouTube for “Frankie’s Holiday” and view the two-minute version.) While most found those 120 seconds touching, they hit me squarely between my eyes because, given the state of my life and what had transpired over the past six years, it was clear to me that I was the monster, the townspeople were my family, and the little girl who helped the monster was a composite of my older sister and a close friend who refused to give up on me while everyone else had considered me beyond help and hope.

This article is a wake-up call to anyone who is in the clutches of a heroin addict. You’re out there and you’re being manipulated to give up your money and possessions that will become money to feed endless, voracious drug habits. Like me, you probably won’t ever touch heroin or crack yourself, but you’ll lose everything to purchase it. And, like me, you’ll live in a land of denial and rationalization, embarrassed over what is happening to you and unwilling to concede that you are the center of the problem as well as a victim of it. Your depression will grow and thoughts of suicide will enter the peripheries of the choices available to you.

In 2010, with my marriage having slipped into autopilot with little emotion on my part, I started a relationship with a married woman named Trina instead of seeking marriage counseling, becoming the typical middle-aged cliché. I had met her in 2008 and hired her into my home-based consulting business. At the time, her husband, Andy, was in prison. When Andy got out in February 2009, I committed to helping him get back on his feet, while Trina worked for me. What I didn’t know then, or even in 2010, was that both of them were heroin addicts, him with the addition of crack and her with Xanax, and I would become their enabler, a source of money to feed an appetite that grew in proportion to the money my business brought in. Once reunited as a team, Trina and Andy worked subtly in a grand plan to let the air out of my checking account, first minimally and then to an increasing degree.

By the time of my divorce at the very end of December 2013, their requirements for money had cranked up to at least $400 per day. There were excuses and schemes, one of which was about a bag of money whose travels included northern Ohio, a Springfield bus terminal, Columbus, and then finally back to Springfield. There were vehicle problems to pay for, intermediaries to pay off, and other issues that required immediate funding, all leveraged with that bag, which, of course, never materialized.

After I moved into my own home with Trina, Andy eventually moved in, followed by two other couples who were homeless and, of course, addicted. The money flowed out of my account before I could bring it in. I took out tens of thousands of dollars in loans. I could not pay my rent, utilities, or my contractors, both of whom quit, leaving me with Trina, who slowly slipped into more days of being somewhere out around Saturn. Eventually, this group relieved me of about $650,000.

How bad did this get? On Oct. 16, 2014, the DEA raided my rented home looking for a large stash of heroin, supposedly hidden there by Andy’s friend from Chicago, who had worked on his racing bike in my garage. One week later, my car was impounded when law enforcement caught Andy driving it without a license and dragged him into jail. Police swore out a warrant for my arrest for knowingly allowing him to drive my car. It cost me $2,300 to clear that up.

But in mid-May of 2016, Sylvia, my undaunted friend, finally got through to me. Three months later when my sister visited, she asked to meet with Sylvia, and the two of them charted the course of my exodus, overjoyed at my finally coming to my senses. By Thanksgiving, I had been invited to my kids’ individual dinners and then Christmas Eve with them at my former wife’s home. So, when I saw that Apple ad, I could barely contain my emotions.

Understand that not all opioid abusers started with pain pills to recover from injuries: they started with heroin to escape some aspect of their lives with which they could not otherwise deal. This was the case with the group that ensnared me.

The good news is that you can extricate yourself, but you need to acquire a steely resolve you never knew you had. Begin by accepting that drug abusers lie and use “facts” and events that cannot be disproven to cover their lies. Whatever they say when they’re trolling for money will be lies. No matter how earnestly they say it. These people are clever and skilled at exploiting character flaws, which that group was able to do to me. Always be on your guard.

Finally, you must be the person who stops the enabling, terminates the relationships, and disconnects from the abusers—no matter how doing so might make you feel. If they are your children, you will need professional help to guide you through the process.

This will be the hardest task you will ever face: don’t do it alone. If you can, find your equivalent of my Sylvia and follow that person’s guidance. But take action or your life will be over, potentially with an overdose death in your home, for which law enforcement will charge you with co plicity. You will never have touched heroin, but it will have cleaned you out financially and put you in prison.

If you or someone you know needs help, here are some resources available to you: 

Samaritan Crisis Care (hot and warm lines, emergency walk-ins, counseling, and more): 937.224.4646, Elizabeth Place, 1st floor, 601 Edwin C. Moses Blvd.,

Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) (services and funding for recovery): 937.224.4646,

Families of Addicts (FOA) (support meetings): 937.307.5479,, 

For Dayton City Paper’s cover story on getting help for addicts, please visit 

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