Putting names to the faces of drug abuse

By Jim Bucher

My column this week was supposed to be Thanksgiving related, but recent events in my life have changed all that.

Over this past weekend, three young people I’m acquainted with have died. One died from presumed drug abuse. For the second, drugs may have been a contributing factor.

The third died from an undeniable heroin overdose.

We have reached the critical point of heroin addiction and drug abuse. The statistics coming out of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab are mind numbing. In 2011, there were 2,124 cases involving heroin and/or heroin-mix. In 2013, the numbers jumped to 3,346 – an almost 60 percent increase.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office supervises two different drug task forces, which have seized over twenty 20 pounds of heroin in the last 14 months. “That’s a street value of about a $1.5 million dollars we were able to get off the streets of Montgomery County,” Captain Mike Brem of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said.

Heroin seizures increased 87 percent between 2009 and 2013, according to the government’s National Drug Intelligence Center’s assessment. What’s more, the average size of those seizures increased 81 percent during that same period.

“The face of the heroin addict has changed in the last 20 years,” Brem said. “There isn’t a certain demographic with heroin addiction. If it hasn’t affected someone directly, they usually know someone it has.”

“Heroin traffickers and heroin use is definitely the top priority right now,” Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said. “Our overdose rate is higher than it has been all year. With the majority of the crimes in our community related to drug addiction or drug trafficking, we recognize collaborating through federal, state and local partnerships is the only way to have a significant impact on the criminal organizations in Montgomery County.”

The Sheriff said he can lock up dealers, pushers and users, but early intervention is the key.

“Our [drug] task forces have been successful, but we realize working with prevention and education groups gives us tools to better understand and approach the problem on many levels,” Plummer said. “We believe that better educating our youth on the negative effects and providing parents with information to quickly recognize signs of abuse are as important as enforcing the law.” 

Being proactive is another tool to hopefully slow the rising tide of heroin in our community. This is why the Montgomery County Drug-Free Coalition was established last year – to bring all aspects of the community together to fight this very complex problem.

The residual effect of drug overdose is grieving friends and family who are left to sort through their losses and attempt to move on.

Sadly, this story is repeated too frequently. It is not a matter of when, but rather who it will be next.

For me, this time the faces came with names.

I’m leaving you with a portion of a social media post from a father who lost his son to drugs. It is gut wrenching. It also included a picture of his son’s body on a slab in a funeral home.

“Let’s take another look at how fun drugs are. This is my son about an hour after the funeral home got him late Monday afternoon. When he died he had been bleeding out of his ears and had blood in his hair and foam in his mouth. 

They were kind enough to clean him before we got there. His body was ice cold from being kept in a refrigerator. My cold dead son, father of a 10-month-old boy. We are all completely devastated. His son is too young to know what is going on, but will live his life wondering what it would be like to know his dad.

Help make something positive from this tragedy. Walk away from this lifestyle, find someone that loves you and ask them for help. Don’t let this become you, don’t do this to your family. Use our pain and anguish and learn from it. Turn to someone you love and get help. It’s not too late to save yourself and your family from repeating this horror. Believe me when I say, you do not want to experience this anguish.”

Unfortunately, we will.

My heart aches.


If you know of someone who needs help (maybe even yourself), suspicious drug activity in your neighborhood or general information, I encourage you to visit mcdrugfree.org.

A regionally known and loved local television icon for over 25 years, “Buch’s” followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Jim Bucher
For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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