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Ourside of the street

My name is Justin a I AM A RECOVERED DRUG ADDICT! October 23, 2014 is my sobriety date. I truly believed for someone like me there was no hope in living a happy life. I wanted to die and thought my life wasn’t even worth living. I was 21 years old homeless and had nothing left. Growing up I was a 3 sport athlete and never thought this could happen to me. My life was in shambles and something had to be done. I finally admitted I had a problem and couldn’t do it on my own. Once I took the action to reach out and get the help I needed my life began to change. I came down to Florida to attend an impatient treatment center. I came a scared little boy with no idea how to live life. There I was introduced to AA and the 12 steps and people who are still in my life today. I recently celebrated 4 years sober and it’s something I never even dreamed of. If I can do it anybody can do it! If your struggling reach out I promise it will be the best decision you ever make!

Sharing hope

After 11yrs battling with H.and anything else I came across, I'm finally sober, I overdosed, did things I'm never going to be ok with, lost my brother, my best friend, and it was never enough, if anything I went deeper into my addiction, I thankfully have family who refused to give up on me, when I gave up on myself. It wasn't easy, and some days still isnt, but it gets easier... and life gets better, I'm seeing in color again, the darkness is slipping further away, and life is blooming... I see my kids, I remember things!, I have meaningful relationships, hope my story gives someone hope, hold on, try.. it's worth it. You're not alone

From nothing to something

I am a recovered addict, and at once was an all around scumbag named pat. See, drug addiction and alcoholism was something that when I look back was inevitable for me. Father an addict, mother a co dependent suffering from severe depression. I grew up in the city of Philadelphia, and from a young age really didn't have any direction. I mean, I can't sit here and blame anyone for my actions or the direction my life went at all. Chaos was just the normal for me. Thing is, I had dreams, and visions of how I wanted my life to be when I got older, however my actions made the outcomes completely different. The decisions I made, sent me through 17 years of hell, 17 years of addiction, state prison, homelessness and complete chaos. Not knowing what work was, or structure; the streets became my best friend. I pushed everyone and everything out of my life if it didn't involve me getting high, or making money. See, I was a drug addict addicted to not only the drug, but money and nice things. For a long time, I hoped my appearance would fool people into thinking I was doing a lot better then I really was. Did it matter who I hurt? No, not at all. How could I care what I did to anyone else if I didn't even care what I did to myself? The question for almost 10 years was, when will I actually be able to stop, when will I finally live a good life? When the end of my battle with heroin, alcohol and crack came to an end, I thought it was going to end in death and that the good life I always dreamed of, would never happen. Well, thank God I didn't die before I had the chance to live! See, i kept hearing about 12 steps, and was in and out of 12 step fellowships, but I never worked the 12 steps. Just kinda that person hanging in the back of meetings, unsure if he even belonged or hoping to catch a victim to come get high with me. I mean, hell what could 12 steps do for someone like me right? Well, I'll get to what they did. After coming home from a lengthy state prison sentence and still going right back to the same old things, in a very short period of time, I completely destroyed my entire life again. Parole didn't mean anything, the fact my fathered passed away while I was in prison didn't mean nothing to me, the sleepless nights my mother had wondering if she would get the call I was dead meant absolutely nothing to me. All that mattered, I was free for the first time in years, and not wearing pennsylvanias state browns anymore and all I wanted to do was party. Well, the party lasted for 2 more years, before I couldn't go on! I'll never forget looking in my mothers eyes saying to her, "mom, I don't think their is anything out there for me." With them words, my mom new what I meant. Well, them words actually became the words that saved my life! That night, I got on a plane and flew out of Philadelphia to Florida to try and start over, and he best advice I was given was, "don't try just do." Well, that's exactly what I did. On May 6th, 2015 I began a journey that has given me the life I always wanted, and so much more. A life that, every morning I wake up I look forward to the day and don't dread it. On that day, I began the first day of the rest of my life! I walked into a 12 step fellowship, and did what I never did before, I actually worked the 12 steps. Well, call me crazy but that was 2 years ago. I mean, I couldn't stay sober for 2 minutes when I was in the streets, I couldn't stay out of jail and prison. And now, for the last 2 years, I have been blessed way beyond what I ever deserved! Today, I get to work in the field of drug and alcohol treatment, I get to help men and women find the way of life I have. I am furthering my eduation in the drug and alcohol field, as well as work altruistically to help men and women outside of work in the rooms of the fellowship I found my recovery in. Today, I don't have everything in the world, but I wake up and have peace and serenity and gratitude wash over me every morning.



Benjamin John Oliphant loved music. He found joy in many genres, but was drawn to rap and dance-club music in particular. In that respect, he was just like many teenagers.

In two others ways, he was not. One was that he was a skilled DJ -- especially in the art of old-school record "scratching." It was like Ben stepped out of a Beck record onto the streets of Niagara Falls. Give him "two turntables and a microphone," and a gathering was suddenly a full-blown hip grooving party. All the cool cats and kitties knew that if Ben was laying down the beats, the dance floor was the only place to be.

The other way that Ben was different was that he was autistic. Ben was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. 

This is what the KenCrest Organization of Delaware has to say about Asperger's and the difficulties that people who have it face in dealing with day-to-day living:

"Asperger's Syndrome is the mildest and highest-functioning end of the Autism Spectrum. Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome experience problems in social interaction and often have restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities.

"These difficulties may include eye contact, facial expressions and social gestures; poor peer relationships; lack of spontaneous sharing with others; lack of social or emotional give-and-take; preoccupation with certain interests and subjects; inflexible routines or rituals; repetitive movements."

Ben's family believes that a combination of these two differences led to a decline into drug use that cut Ben's life short last year.

On Oct. 19, 2010, Ben was found dead in an apartment on Ashland Avenue in an area known for drug-dealing. The official ruling was that a lethal cocktail of morphine and cocaine ended Ben's life, but his mother believes that the coroner's report might just as easily have read "Died by falling through the cracks."

Maribeth Oliphant still tears up at the memory of her loving son.

"This may sound bitter to you; I wrote it back in 2005, and it details the early years of Ben's life," Maribeth told me as she handing me a paper entitled "Ben's Diagnosis."

The paper talks in vivid detail about Ben's birth, early childhood, and years of misdiagnosis by the teachers and specialists in his school district.

After being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyslexia and being an underachiever, Ben was finally characterized as having issues that were "attitudinal."

Thankfully, Dr. Prado at the Monsignor Carr Clinic examined Ben and made a very quick and accurate diagnosis of Asperger's.

"I cried a river that night," Maribeth said. "After all of the years of them saying Ben was slow, when he actually tested out two grades ahead of his peers, of them trying to put the blame for his poor grades back on him, it was like a huge weight had been lifted."

By that time, Ben so hated the experience of school he wanted to drop out. It was recommended that he attend Niagara Academy on Saunders Settlement Road in Sanborn. The school is operated by Orleans Niagara BOCES and is designed to provide a "caring and supportive environment that enhances the academic, social, emotional and vocational skills of our students."

"Even though the size of the school scared him a bit, it was a place where he was accepted, and it was a place where he could feel like he was home," Maribeth said.

Ben graduated from Niagara Academy and tried to get into Niagara County Community College, but the experience of the entrance exams was overwhelming.

"There just isn't help for these kids as they transition into adulthood. Ben knew technology, computers and sound like he knew the back of his hand, but when he went in (to the entrance exams) he was so overwhelmed by the new environment that he froze up," Maribeth explained.

Ben took a job at Smokin' Joe's for a time, but soon found himself entwined in a drug culture that links the rural areas and suburbs of Niagara County with the mean streets of Niagara Falls.

"He was taking prescription meds, opiates, ones he was buying on the streets -- Oxycontin and Oxycodone. He was trying to fit in, and drugs helped take away the anxiety he felt," said Maribeth.

It's a dirty little secret that there are a number of people who live in what is considered the "safe" part of Niagara County -- the "white" suburbs and countryside -- who routinely sell their addictive prescription pain medication to drug dealers, who in turn sell the drugs on the streets of Niagara Falls.

Ben fell in with two middle-aged women doing just that as they were trying to keep their Sanborn home from going into foreclosure. Ben did lawn work for the women in return for payment in prescription medication. One of the women would pick Ben up in the middle of the night, drive him to Niagara Falls, and drop him off to sell the drugs from the shadows of alleyways that have seen far too much heartache and early death.

Eventually, prescription meds gave way to cocaine and heroin. Ben's behavior changed, and his mother became alarmed.

She said, "It was like that scene in 'Panic in Needle Park,' where the woman is sitting there almost as if asleep, with her eyes rolled back up in her head. Ben actually looked like that, and it scared me to my core."

After a couple of near misses with drug overdoses, Ben finally took a hit that his body couldn't handle. He'd found out in the last year of his life that he suffered from an enlarged heart, and the drug speedball that he took that fateful evening was too much to overcome.

The details of his final hours are not clearly known and may never be fully understood. What Maribeth does know is that her son was staying in the home of a known drug dealer and had been to her house that afternoon while she was at work. When he arrived at her home, he had a number of drugs and prescriptions with him, including intravenous morphine with a street value of $2,000.

Maribeth's oldest son, Tom, recognized that his brother was high and had a number of illegal drugs in his possession, and threw him out of the house. That decision is a heavy burden he still carries.

"I told him, you can't do that to yourself. If it wasn't that night, it would have been another. We all loved Ben and did what we thought were the best things to do in each moment," Maribeth detailed.

When Ben couldn't be found that night, his father went looking and found Ben's car abandoned on a city street. There was vomit all over the inside of the car. When he knocked on the door of the apartment where Ben was staying, a man answered and responded to the question of if he knew of the young man's whereabouts with words that will forever haunt the Oliphant family: "He dead, man. He dead."

Maribeth Oliphant may never know just what happened the night her son died. The police investigated, but ultimately no criminal charges were filed. What she does know is that there is nothing she can do with the past, save mourning it, but she can impact the future.

Maribeth has partnered with Niagara Academy to establish the Benjamin John Oliphant Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will benefit kids graduating from the school and help with their transition into secondary education and adulthood. It will also serve to aid in drug-prevention education and to raise awareness of autism and the needs of those afflicted.

The world lost a kind, trusting and talented soul when Ben ascended to the heavens. His demise is a cautionary tale about the need for proper early diagnosis and placement for kids with autism and other developmental disorders, and also illustrates the evil influence of drugs here.

Ben loved music, and his mother hopes that the scholarship created in his honor will help other young adults with autism find the harmony that so sadly eluded him during his brief time on earth.

To make a contribution to the Benjamin John Oliphant Memorial Scholarship, please mail your check or money order to: Benjamin John Oliphant Memorial Scholarship, c/o Niagara Academy, 3181 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn, N.Y. 14132.

RIP Autumn

Autmn Nicole Spicer passed away at age 30 to heroin overdose. She was a Daughter, Sister, Aunt,  and girlfriend. she will forever be missed but never forgotten.

Brian Mitchell Mendell's Story

Brian Mitchell Mendell

Born: 1985

Died: 2011

Shatterproof (Interview)

Tell us about Brian: Like many of you reading this, you have children that light up your life. Brian was that for me. He began talking at an early age, and for the next twenty five years he never stopped. Brian loved the outdoors. Whether with his friends or his brother Greg, he would play in the woods for hours, fishing and searching for frogs.

As Brian entered elementary school, his struggles began to emerge. I watched him struggle with so many things we all take for granted; holding a crayon, and simply keeping his balance. When he began middle school he had a hard time paying attention and he began to struggle academically and socially; he felt as if he didn’t fit in. He was originally diagnosed with ADD, however over time this diagnosis included anxiety, depression and traits of Asperger’s.

Brian’s curiosity was endless. We would end our evenings talking endlessly. He would want to know about everything; my favorite memories growing up, how I liked my career, how the people in the Dominican seemed so happy with so little material things.

It is impossible to describe Brian without mentioning his smile. He had the ear to ear to smile that was his trademark.

However, the character trait of Brian of which I am most proud was his compassion for others. I have spoken publicly about his crawling under a fence at Yankee stadium when he was eight to give a homeless man a quarter. His favorite memory of high school was taking a trip to the Dominican Republic on spring break to play with children who had so little. After Brian’s death, his sober coach wrote “After Brian and I had lunch together he gave money to homeless people on the street.” Another friend wrote “his big bright smile, easy approachable demeanor and kind eyes are things that come to mind when I think about Brian. It's a lovely memory.”

Tell us about Brian's struggle with addiction: Brian and several of his friends tried marijuana for the first time at age thirteen. While his friends had varying degrees of interest, for Brian it was different. Maybe the marijuana eased his anxiety. Or perhaps it was genetic. Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, Brian quickly became addicted, and is often the case, over time he became addicted to more dangerous drugs.

Brian was sent to a wilderness program when he was seventeen. Throughout these years, when Brian was not relapsing, he was often reflective. He responded to what he read of Taoist philosophy in a note to me, “’Emotion which is suffering ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.’ It’s similar to what I’m working on.”

Brian was also deeply pained by what he was putting his family through. In one letter to my mother he wrote, “Dear Grandma Kitty, I don’t know what to say about this anymore. I feel horrible that I keep putting everyone through this. Thanks for sticking with me and I’m sorry. Love and miss you, Brian.” Brian’s relapses were many. After his last relapse Brian told me, “Dad, even when I think I have this under control, I have now learned that this disease is doing push-ups inside and getting stronger and stronger.”

After his last treatment program, Brian succeeded and was able to stay clean for thirteen months. However five weeks after his one year anniversary he tragically took his life. In his loving and compassionate note to our family, he condemned the treatment system for its lack of integrity. And although he did not state it explicitly, I believe he also felt enormous shame and guilt that tore him apart inside. It seems like yesterday we were sitting on the bench in our back yard when he told me, “Dad, three hundred years ago they burned women on stakes in Salem, Massachusetts because they thought they were witches. Someday society will recognize that I have a disease, and I am trying my hardest".

What made Brian smile?: More than anything Brian loved “family time” and seeing everyone happy. He also had an amazing sense of humor, and loved making us all laugh.

What do you miss most about Brian: What I miss most is the emotional connection we shared. We were soul mates. As Brian once wrote in a letter from a wilderness program, “Dad, underneath we are twins; I see it out here a lot - Mom and Dad – I don’t think I’ve ever missed you more or realized how much you do for me and I want you to know I know all your decisions are out of love. Love, Brian. “ I miss Brian every minute of every day.

Brian lost his fight as he took his own life on October 20. 2011 due to the disease and struggle of addiction. Brian's memory will live on through our stories of experience, strength and hope! To those who have lost the battle with addiction - Gary has chosen to be a voice for the many lives lost and those who struggle today. Make sure to check out the webpage at

From The Bullpen To The Grave

I was born and raised in Campbell, Ohio. "Soup City" is on the east side of Youngstown. Campbell is known for the city of churches and bars. When I was in High school, Youngstown was the murder capital of the USA two times. I learned my survival of the fittest mindset at a very young age. I learned how to exploit peoples weaknesses and devour them to get whatever I wanted. I worked on the front lines of satans rebellion for years. I was a master manipulator. I had no patience to wait for anything. If i wanted something I would do whatever I needed to do to get it immediately.

My first addiction was baseball. I had dreams of being a major league baseball player since I could remember. I used baseball as a way to relieve stress and get away from life when it was bothering me. I started lying at a young age and getting into neighborhood trouble so I was grounded ALOT! Since I was grounded so much I used the neighbors garage to work on my throwing, infield and tee work daily. I practiced so much that by the end of the summer there was no paint left on the garage lol jk (addictive personality??? lol) In 2000 I accepted a scholarship to Kent State University. In 2003 I got drafted by the Montreal Expos (Washington Nationals) and played 6 seasons of minor league baseball.

I came close to capturing my dream. I blew out my UCL in my 3rd year of pro ball and had tommy john surgery. My identity was in baseball and when I lost baseball in 2009 I lost everything.

Anyway, my second addiction was alcohol. I occasionally smoked weed but didn't like weed cause it made me paranoid. Alcohol made me feel invisible. I had my first drink when I was 11. I was raised Roman Catholic so I was an alter boy and I would slam the communion wine in the sanctuary when no one was around. I snuck beers at family events and anywhere there was alcohol. I knew I had a drinking problem at 14 when I drank a whole bottle of ouzo and had to be hospitalized cause I had alcohol poison. I was proud to be an alcoholic as sick as that sounds. I started binge drinking a few days a week during my high school career. I believe i was even drinking the night before I started the state semi championship game my junior year. I pitched the game of my life and was offered scholarship to Ohio State because of it. So being praised and honored for my talents in baseball I grew to have a "god complex". I turned my back on God when I left for Kent State and only prayed to him when I had to close a game and the bases were loaded with no outs. 

My first week in college I got busted for possession of marijuana and almost lost my scholarship. I drank daily and used cocaine whenever it was given to me. People would feed me drugs an alcohol because they thought I was on my way to stardom. I was constantly getting away with all the trouble I got into or with minor consequences and because of that it made me feel invincible and it really fed my disease. My motto through college and pro ball was "party like a rock star, play like an all-star and "f**K" like a porn star". Them 3 statements were all I cared about that was my life and I loved it. I have been all over the USA to play baseball. Baseball gave me money, cars, jewelry, women, alcohol-drugs.... Baseball was my God. 

I never used opiates until I had Tommy John surgery. When that narcotic hit me I had my first whole body orgasm. I fell in love and became a slave to the pills. I played for another 3 years after surgery staying high off of pain pills, alcohol and cocaine. I was scheduled to go to Perth, Australia for winter ball and a few weeks prior to leaving my daughters Mom showed me a positive pregnancy test. I retired from baseball in full blown alcoholism and opiate addiction with the bright idea I was ready to start a family. I tried everything to replace the high i would get from closing a game with thousands of people packed in a stadium chanting my name! Never found it until I felt the Holy Spirit for the first time. So anyway, I cleaned up with her during her pregnancy and did get not high again until a few days after my daughter was born. I started back up because I was still a little boy who was afraid to man up and take care of the family I had. Drugs and alcohol robbed not only me but 3 other lives of what could have been wonderful if I was sober. The pain I brought into these lives is embarrassing. if I ever hurt anyone who is reading this please accept my deepest apologies and know that I am not that same evil man today.

The opiate addiction started right back up from where it left off. This lasted almost 2 years. We broke up and I moved back to Youngstown and someone told me it would be cheaper to start using heroin so I did. Heroin now was my god and i would do anything to get it. Crack cocaine was also present at this time. I boosted,cheated and manipulated everyone to get it once I finally lost everything. In Dec 20 of 2012 there was nothing left of Gus. I lost my family, baseball and almost my life. I cut my own copper pipes out of my house to get heroin. I had overdosed 5 times and during one od I stop breathing for almost a minute. Death was looming over me, I was ready and willing to die, I didn't care. I was mad at God and didn't want anything to do with him. 
On January 23, 2013 I decided I was done and quit cold turkey. I was getting picked up and being brought to Akron to join a program to get my life back. On January 26th, I was on my way to Akron and I fell asleep in the car. In my dream I was picked up by something huge and shaken out, I woke up to my friend and now brother in Christ (Jim Reinsel) grabbing my arm cause I had opened the door and was trying to jump out in my sleep. He was driving 70-80mph on route 76 if he didn't grab me I would have been DEAD! I believe that's the day Jesus delivered me. He forcefully came into my life like a hurricane and rid my spirit of Satan. Whatever I was possessed by tried one last time to kill me in that car ride to Akron. I tried everything then I finally decided to give God a try after Jim and i talked a few days later....WOW! I tried recovering myself but not until I full surrendered to God did I get success. God requires me to work my butt off to stay clean but i know as long as i stay focused on Christ i will be ok. These last 17 months have been a roller coaster ride but i wouldn't change a thing. My recovery has become the most important thing in my life because without it I'm no good to God or anyone else. If I go back out again I am positive I will die and my daughter will have to tell people her dad died of a heroin overdose.....not happening. 


I Hope my story can help you! If I can do this so can you.......My new motto in life is....."from the the a life in Christ!"

I love you all and God Bless!

Born A Miracle And Died A Hero

Stephin was born on October 26, 1990 to his mother Christina. Stephin weighed one pound an 10 ounces at birth- He was mommy's little miracle- Stephin was "Born A Miracle and Died A Hero."

Stephin Wayne Bergeron was taken from earth April 13, 2011 by former friends, according to his Mother Christina Sargent Bergeron.

Stephin was walking when the former friends appeared and slayed the twenty year-old. Christina said she thinks the only reason they had was he asked them to stop selling drugs.

“My son did nothing but ask them to not give drugs to people,” said Christina. “[They] murdered my son and the price they pay will never be enough – Not for me.”

Stephin was born October 26, 1990 and weighed one pound ten ounces when he was born. Christina said he was “God’s little miracle.” His passing has been tasking, according to his mother.

“I’m so tired. I cry every day missing every little thing my son did and said… I pray god helps me to forgive them because it eats at my very soul. It breaks me down every day that I don’t get to have him in my life.”

Stephin wanted to do many things, Christina said. He desperately wanted to be a father; already picking out the name Lane Braxton Bergeron had he had a boy. He was in college, attempting to acquire his Instrumentation license, and he was very active, playing multiple sports.

Christina said Stephin was more than her son, calling him her best friend. She said he was “a small fellow with a huge heart,” and admired the way he would do anything for anyone.

Stephin loved riding horses and bulls, going mud riding with his friends, and having big bonfires, his mother said. She called him a Chriistian boy who was saved not once, but twice. He was very close with his little brother and sister and loved taking care of people when they were sick, according to his mother.

“When I got sick with my heart he stayed by my side. He would even sleep in a recliner in my chair at night to make sure I was ok and he’d fix me the best big glass of hot tea every night if I had a migraine,” said Christina.

Stephin wore his heart on his sleeve according to Christina. She said he was always singing:

“When he was about 12 he dedicated a song to me by Lil Bow Wow called “for my momma.” He said one day I’d never have to work again or struggle like I had raising my kids because he would take care of me. He never left even if we were mad or upset with each other without kissing my cheek and saying I love you mom. And most days he’d squeeze me really tight and sing the words loving you because you’re so beautiful to me.”

Christina wrote the following at the end of her note.

“He had goals and a future that were taken away from him. When he was little he would make things on holidays with his Lil brother and sister and we would go to the retirement homes and pass out things to the elderly to let them know that they may not know us from Adam but they were not forgotten on any holiday that their lives meant something. We even dressed up for Halloween one year and went to visit with them and took pictures. Stephin Wayne Bergeron is my son. Stephin Wayne Bergeron is a angel and a hero. I will never let the world forget him or who he was while here on this earth. He is loved and missed by so many and will be forever. A hero taken too soon from this earth by evil cowards. Stephin Wayne Bergeron 10/26/90-04/13/11. Mommy misses you bud more than anything in this world.”

Stephin may be gone but NEVER forgotten!


Twenty four hours a day,seven days a week I felt lonely,scared,and left behind. My mother was an angry,thoughtless,selfish drunk that reminded me daily that I was just in the way of her life. Growing up was something i had to do before my time..I found myself giving myself away to strangers at a young age just to FEEL loved. As i grew older I found alchol and drugs were the answer, so i thought...My addiction took me places you only see in movies....inthe beginning it was just dancing, then escorting, playing with power cocaine for over 15 years. Still a lost little girl looking for love in all the wrong places i met my new love CRACK. This took me somewhere i never thought was possible. I walked the streets selling myself for over ten years. I was raped..stabbed,shot,kidnapped, robbed, pistol whiped,REPEATEDLY for many years over and over and still never wanted to quit..I  have lost three children,my sanity,my peace,. I have been to prison two times, and had thirtyseven arrests due to my thirst for the streets and the drug that made the pain go away. Iwas lost still working 24/7 for my next high and found heroin to be my new love very quickly..This nightmare was never gonna end.....I got pregnant with my forth child and was blessed to catch another charge and be locked up till i delivered..once being released i went right back to what i only knew and was swallowed up and spit out for the last time. I took my son and went to rehab . A womens and children program after going threw detox.....Today I have almost three yrs clean and sober. I am a certified Recovery Coach helping others find a new way of life by sharing my experence strenth and hope daily. Im currently in school to be a substance abuse councler,and have done many interviews for our local news station caring the message of hope. I have graduated from richmond adult drug court,and enjoy loving on my son malachi everyday....Today i work 24/7 loving myself and others   .Today i know what holidays are,birthdays are,and what family is truly about  I never realy knew what it was like to sit down as a family and have a meal..Today i sit with my husband and son every night to eat a meal and talk about our day....I say i worked 24/7 to get high and run from life, Today iwork 24/7 to be a good wife and a good mother, sharing my story so that for those who think they are alone, or are embaressed,,I have walked in your shoes.  It is possible, you can do it, you are worth it !!! tnks for letting me share some of my story,,,my clean date is 3/20/12.   24/7

Family Betrayal

My son Christopher died of a heroin overdose on October 27, 2012. After he died his best friend told me they would go over to my sisters house and at 10 years old she would buy alcohol for them.My nephew and his wife introduced Christopher to marijuana and he returned home higher than a kite one night. Another friends father allowed the boys to smoke marijuana because he believed letting them do that at his house was a safer environment. My sisters boyfriend introduced my son Christopher to the world of big bucks drug dealing.Taught him how to buy and sell it to others. I begged and I pleaded with family and friends to not do these things with my only child. Christopher was in recovery, and doing quite well... clean for 9 months. One night a family member dropped him off at a known location where drugs and alcohol would be prevalent. The family member drove away. Christopher drank which was unusual for him, and then proceeded to want a shot of heroin. Obviously he found one. He died that morning, was found on their bathroom floor. The first picture was at his wedding August 30,2009 with me. The second picture was taken at a baby shower two months before he died. The third picture is of a daughter he never got to hold. His wife was 4 and 1/2 months pregnant when Christopher was found dead. The last picture is of his daughter who turned 3 today. She was 11 months when her daddy was found dead. So if I sound like I blame everybody but myself... I don't.
I made plenty of mistakes as a mom. In my house we preached abstinence though. I am now the Visionary Leader for a NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION called RAISING HEROIN AWARENESS. Our mission is to be educational and informative on the progression, or lack there of, in every state in the UNITED STATES concerning this dreadful drug HEROIN. My name is Gail Strobehn-Simmons and I am from Oregon City, OR.

The Last Lethal Dose - Shea Angelica Abbott Fricke

A Delhi couple who allegedly sold the heroin that led to an overdose death will face involuntary manslaughter charges.

It will be the first case in Hamilton County in which an alleged drug dealer faces charges involving an overdose death, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters said in a release.

Shea Fricke, 21, died June 26 at her Delhi home after purchasing heroin from Stephanie and Christopher Eaglin, also of Delhi, an investigation revealed. The Hamilton County Coroner determined her death was a result of a heroin overdose.

The Eaglins each face one count of involuntary manslaughter stemming from Fricke's death, Deters announced Monday. They are also charged with one count each of trafficking in heroin, possession of heroin and possession of drugs. Those charges resulted from a search warrant of the Eaglins' residence on Aug. 28, from which police recovered heroin and pills.

If the Eaglins are convicted of all charges, they could each face 12 years in prison.

Deters said he has been working with Attorney General Mike DeWine to change the law surrounding how drug dealers are charged.

"The law needs to be strengthened to allow us to charge these kinds of cases as murder," he said in a statement. "If the law is changed, drug dealers would then be facing the possibility of life in prison for selling the drugs that take too many lives."

Ohio House Bill 508, which was introduced in April, deals with increasing criminal punishments for drug dealers.

Under the bill, the charges against a dealer who sells drugs leading to an overdose death of a minor could be increased from involuntary manslaughter to aggravated murder. The maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is 11 years in prison. The maximum sentence for aggravated murder under that circumstance would be life without parole, according to the Ohio House of Representative's website.

The bill would also increase charges against a dealer who sold to an adult who died in an overdose to murder, which carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison.

"To get a handle on the heroin epidemic. you really have to look at traffickers and have harsher punishments in order to deter this kind of behavior," said Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, who introduced the bill.

"When they deal heroin, they know it's going to destroy somebody's life ... That's why I think it is appropriate that they're charged with murder when that happens."

Lawmakers in Kentucky are also working to impose harsher punishments for drug dealers.

Kentucky Senate Bill 5, which failed to pass in the General Assembly in April, would have allowed prosecutors to charge high-volume drug traffickers with homicide if the person died of an overdose.

Many were outraged by the bill's failure. Jason Merrick, president of Northern Kentucky People Advocating Recovery, told The Enquirer in April his organization isn't giving up.

"We were expecting more action and responsibility from our elected officials," Merrick said. "We will now begin a campaign asking – begging – Governor Beshear to declare a state of emergency.

"Too many lives are at stake. Something must be done."


Hi my name is JOE and I am a grateful recovering addict.I began using Narcotics at a very early age,10-11,when I took to the streets in search of something more than what my family was giving me.I come from a great family with values and I am the oldest child and only male.So I was handed everything like a prince but it still wasn't enough...i Became a gangbanger at 12 and began my first prison sentence at 17. I became a parent at 18 aswell....I traveled the U.S. in search of Freedom yet all I did was travel with my addiction and my I don't care attitude....Fast foward to my second prison sentence where I spent 7 lonely years on the West Coast and thats when I knew I needed a change.I came back to NY when I heard my grandson,my first grandchild,was about to become 1 years old. Soon after I found the rooms of NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS. I walked into a meeting and didn't like it so I left.Walked into another meeting in the same area where I was raised as a child and I have not looked back since. I have been clean since March 18,2010 and I am coming up on 5 years Clean!!!! Thanks to my HP,The Oldtimers,My Sponsor and my network I have maintained my Cleandate.I got married in this process of Recovery and my children are all back in my life.I am forever grateful to the members before me who held the doors open for an ex-gangbanger to find a new way to live. To be able to follow a format to find out WHO I AM so I can best offer myself to my family.Thankyou to all for alowing me to share my ES and Hope

Just One Time

Please share your photos, videos, stories or messages with me and my family. . . I was a great kid, smart, sexy, powerful, I believed I could do anything. . . Unfortunately, my life was ended the first time I tried a designer variant of what I thought was acid/LSD (25I NBOMe). My family misses me terribly, cuz I was so great and funny. . . if you knew me I probably made you laugh and you felt like we were friends. . . and for my part we were. Everyone misses me, it wasn't worth it. . . please don't make your family have to miss you.

Montana died when he tried what he mistakenly thought was acid/LSD for the very first time with his two brothers and another kid, however what he was told was acid was really a research chemical called 25I NBOMe. . . he died and the three others had to be hospitalized as well. . . I created this community page to get the word out that doing these things KILL. You can live in the best neighborhood, send your kids to the best schools, have a big house, take fabulous vacations, your kids may be "A" students, athletes, and cheerleaders. . . it's not always the addict that dies from drug use. . . It was a curious, seemingly invincible, strong, charismatic, good looking, fun, loving, happy child. . . and if I can save other people's children through raising awareness and celebrating his life I am bound and determined to make his death mean something. . . Please share our story
I thought I was going to try acid/lsd for the very first time. What I got from a friend wasn't acid at all. . . It was 25I NBOME. . . It sent me into convulsions and almost killed my friend and 2 brothers as well. 25I is a synthetic research chemical that is passed off to many unsuspecting kids as LSD, bath salts, Molly/ectasy. Delivery methods can be droplets, blotter paper, tablets, powders or candy. Think of it as a psychedelic hallucigen combined with methamphetamine. I died 3 minutes before the first responders arrived. So I won't be getting my driver's license this year or going to prom. I won't be earning a letterman jacket for football, wrestling, swim or track. All I can tell you is that it just takes one time. . . My family and friends miss me dearly. I was smart, obviously good looking, popular and thought I could get away with just about anything. . . My parents warned me all the time about the dangers of drugs. . . I just thought it couldn't happen to me. I hope you make a better choice than me and just stay away from anything you might be trying to get high off of, because it just isn't worth it! #RIPMONTANABROWN #bansynthetics
Montana gave our family and his friends incredible joy. He died the first time he tried a synthetic drug. The purpose of this page is to create awareness.
Loved and missed by his dad, mom and brothers.

'with vigilance'

I am so grateful to find this site-what wonderful miracle stories! I understand today that my story-all of the insanity-can help someone else. I felt alone and different in early recovery. It took me numerous treatment centers, consequences and near death to surrender.I understand today (and I am coming up on 23 years!) that I was preserved to carry a message. What I thought was so different is not so different. My heart hurt and I wanted to hide even at meetings when people would talk about having a family-getting family back-having a key to the very parents house they robbed back in the day.. blah blah. I thought I was doing something wrong again. After lots of work, service work, volunteering, graduating college and carrying the message all over the place-I was preserved to give hope to the throw away's-the 'orphans' the neglected! I am not bad-and I am not broken. I have risen above all the mean, drunk, addicted, mentally ill biological family-they screamed at me for the 1st 10 years of sobriety. When I had enough-I walked-and I grew. All those people are now dead or the walking dead. I have spiritual family-not biological. It was my  wonderful sponsor who told me  to work this thing 'with vigilance'. It was my friends and some professors that encouraged me to pen my story- I self published it last May-have a look on smashwords,com .I was on the speaker panel this Fall in Traverse City at the annual round up -and guess what the topic was?? The Family Afterward'!! I can laugh today-am so grateful-have peace. Some of the walking dead still try and screw with me-I let them go (or block them!). Thanks for being love and service-christine campbell

Rehab - A Safe Haven?

CINCINNATI (Deb Dixon) -- Parents of children addicted to drugs know what it's like to be afraid of the phone call that their child has died from an overdose. When the parents of Steven Fisher got that call, it started a death investigation into a local treatment facility. What his family and police found inside was shocking. "I have to see him lying on the floor, something I'll never forget," said Theresa Gray, Steven Fisher's mother. On the floor dead, the needle, the spoon used to cook the deadly dose of heroin nearby. Steven Fisher's parents couldn't calculate how that could happen to the happy little boy who loved family and was the popular high school athlete. Good grades got him into college; Fisher was back building houses with his dad. They don't know when he started using.       Steven died in June, a month after his release from a men's lock down treatment facility, Talbert House's CCC in Warren County. Steven's father, Tom Fisher, said, "We begged him to go to this program, 'Please go, it's what you need.'" Clermont County Judge Victor Haddad thought so too. Steven was out on bond for an attempted burglary but failing drug tests. The judge hoped six months in CCC could change his life. "You find out insecurities and difficulties CCC meant to restore that person. So when they get out they have options less drug addiction," said Judge Haddad. Goshen Township's Sgt. Ron Robinson turned to Steven's phone, looking for the dealer who sold him the fatal dose. The phone showed him more of what was going on at CCC than rehab. Text messages to Steven from two counselors were suggestive. One asked if he had gotten laid yet. Steven responded he didn’t have time because he was taking care of things. There was a back and forth about getting together and text messages that clearly indicated sexual conversations and not ways to stay off heroin. Robinson said the counselors denied having sex with inmates but did say other workers were having sex with inmates in a closet.       After Steven got out, a man who was still locked up texted Steven a photo of breasts and asked him to guess whose they were. Two counselors did admit they were in on the sale of chewing tobacco kept in hiding places, such as the refrigerator. According to Robinson they bought it for Steven and another inmate to sell, and the counselors got part of the profit. Then there was the Xanax Steven told his mother he got inside to help him sleep. That was not part of the rehab program Local 12 was told. About the same time Steven overdosed Clermont County probation was hearing some of the same things from other inmates who got out of CCC. The judge said the Talbert House facility was now more transparent. Changes have been made in security and training.       Talbert house gave a statement saying, "Our sympathies go out to the Fisher family for their heartbreaking loss. When issues of possible staff misconduct came to our attention we took immediate action. Staff involved are no longer employed by Talbert House." The attorney for the Fisher family told Local 12 he was considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit or medical malpractice claim. Follow Deborah Dixon on Twitter @crimestopperdeb and LIKE her on Facebook for more updates.

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Missing My Best Friend

I lost my friend Fraser in September of 2002. I had tried for several years to get him sober. His death was the final event that put me on the path of my life’s work. Both Rutgers and myself have written about it.

Students who live in Rutgers Recovery Housing, a sober living on-campus residence, are well on their way to recovery from drug or alcohol addictions. But one of the most challenging moments a recovering addict can face is when a friend from the past overdoses.

When this happens, students can turn to Frank Greenagel, a clinical social worker and recovery counselor at theRutgers recovery houses in New Brunswick and Newark. Greenagel knows on a personal level what it feels like to lose a friend to addiction.

In 2002, one of Greenagel’s closest friends, Fraser, died at 27 of an overdose of alcohol and crack cocaine, ending an intermittent period of sobriety with tragic consequences. Greenagel and Fraser had been friends since their sophomore year at Voorhees High School, a location Greenagel recently returned to, along with current Recovery House students, to teach about the perils of addiction.

“I liked Fraser immediately because he was very bright, had a great sense of humor, was a terrific story teller and was always involved in chaos. But by the time we were seniors, his addiction problem was very evident,” recalls Greenagel.

The downward spiral continued with Fraser failing out of the University of Pennsylvania and getting arrested for drug possession multiple times. Greenagel tried to assist with recovery, even letting him live in his undergraduate apartment at Rutgers. Fraser would be clean, and then relapse. Finally, the call came that he had died, and that loss changed the trajectory of Greenagel’s life, convincing him to become a social worker. He applied to the Rutgers School of Social Work MSW program three days before the deadline.

“When I think about why I do what I do, he is at the top of the list. I still cry about him sometimes,' Greenagel says. “There is picture of him in each of my offices.”

Now Greenagel, who was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and named chair of the New Jersey Heroin and Other Opiates Task Force in 2012, uses that experience to help students.

Mike's Story

Mike’s Story
My son Mike was born August 29, 1990. What an amazing kid he was. I chose to only have one child deciding early on that I would dedicate my life as a mother and help to create an outstanding human being. I am an only child myself so this seemed like the way to go. This was my number one career path. Despite getting divorced early in Mike’s life and growing up in a house dominated by only a strong woman he excelled at whatever he choose to do. With an outgoing personality, charm and good looks, for Mike life seemed easy. Gifted with both an English and math brain, excelling in sports and an unusual gift to write music he was going to make his mark in this world. But there was one little thing that I noticed early on in my son and that was his lack of confidence in himself. He was his own worst enemy.

Mike began dabbling in the marijuana and alcohol scene. This started to quickly spiral out of control after Mike was arrested for possession and was court ordered to get drug testing. Mike was born fearless and began trying whatever he could get his hands on. Cocaine, ecstasy, and spice were some of his favorites. He would take whatever he could as long as he could test clean. His behavior was rapidly changing, the old friends were disappearing and the new were squatting in my home as if I didn’t even live there. For lack of attendance Mike was told he could no longer attend public school and was going to be graduating from a local alternative school. I started to not even know who my own child was. After graduating, during one of Mike’s violent destructive acts I decided I had enough and threw him out. I could no longer tolerate the verbal abuse and lies that became part of his lifestyle. This became our new normal. He would straighten up and I would take him back. Our life was a living yoyo. On one of the final times that Mike was “making it on his own,” as he would say, a dog attacked him and the tip of his ring finger was bitten off. He was prescribed Vicodin and so our story of opiate addiction begins.

He had rapid weight loss and withdrawal from family and friends, Mike had become a passing stranger in the night. Our relationship began ripping apart and crying became a daily routine for me. Both of us were now feeding off of each other’s addiction. Mike was addicted to opiates/heroin and I was addicted to Mike. I was going to make him better. After three times in rehab, four overdoses, and a few days on life support from the fifth overdose where his lifeless body was found behind a dumpster where he was left by his so-called friends, Mike suffered a brain injury that impaired his short term memory. He had an arrest record that could cover the walls of the White House, bailed cars out of impound on three different occasions, 6 months in Cook county jail, four days downstate to be assigned his lifetime parole number, a week in DuPage county jail, a week in Winnebago county jail, a few days in Lake county jail, the list goes on. After abandoning the purchase of my home and then moving two more times to get Mike away from that crowd, we had conquered our addiction. Our life was back on track. I was finally starting to sleep at night. Mike had reunited with his long time love, Taylor, and actually talked about becoming an addiction counselor to help others. He said, “Mom, I know what they are going through and I can help them.” He made amends with family and friends, who he had hurt during the past few years, started his full time job and together we were living the dream.

The day of September 1, 2012 started like most for us. Mike had stayed at my dad’s house where he was the king of the castle. I called him in the morning and said, “Hey, how about a day with your mom” which he laughed at and said, “Of course.” We spent the day at my dad’s house talking, laughing, shooting pool and playing with our dog. Heading into the evening I asked Mike to go to dinner which he declined saying he was just going to chill with papa. So we hugged, kissed, said, “I love you” and we would see each other tomorrow. At 9:00 pm I was heading back home. At midnight my phone was blowing up. When I answered, my dad who I could barely understand because of my stepmom’s screams in the background said, “Terri he did it again.” Half asleep and partly in shock, I said, “He did what? Overdose?” I was furious. Not only had we worked so hard but now in the home of the grandparents’ most kids would pay for, I calmly said “I am on my way,” and out the door I went.

When I arrived at the hospital I went looking for my step mom. I was unable to find her so the front desk guided me to the family waiting room. It was strange to me because I knew that was only where the really bad cases go.

As I stepped into that room my step mom was barely able to catch her breath and said, “it’s really bad.”

“No, its not,” I replied, “we have been thru this before, ill go to his room talk to him and all will be fine.”

When I got to Mike’s room it was the typical major overdose scene. A breathing machine, beeping monitors, tubes and wires and hanging bags were everywhere like something out of a horror movie. I rubbed his head and told him I was there and it was going to be fine, we all make mistakes. I sat with him for a while, waiting and waiting. I kept telling him to open his eyes just like he did last time. As a courtesy to some and a support system for myself I made a few calls. Within hours there had to be 50 people at that hospital wandering the halls living off of coffee waiting on the kid who excelled at everything to wake up. Later that afternoon a doctor approached Mike’s father and I. He said, “We need to talk.” The only thing I remember is his badge that indicated he was a neurologist. He put us in front of a monitor and said, “This is what your brain looks like.” He pointed to the screen next to the normal brain and said, “This is Mike’s brain.” Not being a doctor, I was not sure what he was getting at and then the words came from his mouth. “Your son is brain dead he will never open his eyes again.”

Mike has suffered a massive stroke and there was no chance of recovery. Standing in a frozen moment he asked, “What would you like to do? He can stay on the ventilator for as long as you choose, however his organs are starting to fail.” Since Mike had always chosen DNR (do not resuscitate), I didn’t need time to figure my answer out. We were all in the room when the nurse pulled his father and I into the hall and said with a tremor in her voice that Mike’s organs were quickly failing and because Mike had a DNR she thought we should not wait any longer.  She said, “If you choose not to act now, the heartbreak of watching Mike suffer would be an unimaginable experience that would haunt you for life.”

Surrounded by family and friends Mike’s life support was unhooked. The room became dead silent. There were no more beeping and swishing noises, just silence. I lay in bed with Mike with my hand over his heart. His father was on the other side with his hand over mine. I talked to Mike and told him, “It’s okay, I am not mad at you. I’ll be OK.” I reminded him that he was a “lifer.” He always told me he that would never leave me but I understood his time here was finished. He had made his mark. It seemed like hours had passed when in fact it was merely minutes. Just as I had brought him into this world, I felt his heart beat for the last time and he was gone. I lay my head across Mike’s chest and literally felt the life of my son, my hero, my life, leave his body.

Mike died on September 2, 2012 only five days after his 22nd birthday. I promised Mike I would never give up and that is why I am sharing our journey. This birthday and every year after this will include no celebration. I will never be a grandmother. I will never have a daughter-in-law. I will never see my child achieve his dreams. I will never hear him make music again or hear the words he once wrote; “I have chosen to sacrifice my life for my mom.” Mike was, is, and always will be the wind beneath my wings.

One of his favorite sayings was “Mom, don’t worry, I got this.” I have since had that inked on my index finger so that daily, in his memory, I can look to heaven and whisper, “Now, Mike, I got this.”

 I have chosen to stand up and fight for all of you now. Whether you are fighting the addiction or you are trying to love someone within an addiction, you are no longer alone. I volunteer my time with the community, local law enforcement and talking to others on our Facebook page, Remembering Michael Anthony Bartlett. I will be watching and learning as Chelsea continues to make changes across our nation. I will talk until no one listens.
The Love of a Mother
Terri Brewer-Bartlett

If you’d like to reach out to Terri Bartlett, please email her at

My Beloved Son

About my beloved son, Brent~
Brent suffered from childhood onset Schizophrenia and Major Depression most of his life. He began taking medication at age 9 for depression and started hearing voices a couple of years later and was started on antipyschotic medication. Despite his illness, he was a very loving and intelligent child and had it not been for his illness, I believe he could have done great things. He was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and on many different medications. He hated the hospitals and his medications and it was extremely difficult to get him to maintain compliance. Despite all of this, Brent had many wonderful times in his life as well. As he got older, his illness became worse and I watched it taking his life from him even while he was still alive on earth. Brent died by suicide on December 18, 2009, while visiting his sister, Erica and I for the holidays at our home in Mississippi. He had just turned 20 years old on November 4th. It was and will always be the single worst day of my life.

Brent, if I could hear your voice today, this is what I believe you would say to me~

” Mom, it’s going to get better. I’m ok now and I am right here with you always! I want you to be my voice now and a voice for all of those suffering with mental illness. And I want you to reach out to others that have been so deeply affected by the devastation of a loved one’s suicide. You can do it Mom. You are the strongest and most beautiful person I have ever known in my life and I am so proud of you. God and I are watching over you always and sending angels to minister to you. Don’t give up…ever. Don’t stop taking your medications like I did. I am so sorry that I hurt you…I didn’t mean to…it was my illness. I love you forever and you will see me again in Heaven and it will seem as though we were never apart.
Love, Brent.”
P.S. I am very happy here in Heaven and God is more awesome than you could ever imagine and He loves you dearly, Mom…always remember this when you think of me. — with Samantha Hart Tripp.
Help Others Stuck in Grief
Day 249

You may feel so weak and needy that it seems impossible you would have anything to give. But there are people around you who need your help. Don’t withhold that word of encouragement, that phone call, that friendly note. There is a place for your ministry too.

“Everyone is wounded,” says Rev. Noel Castellanos, “and one of the incredible things about the Christian life is that God can take wounded people and turn them into givers and ministers in spite of the woundedness.

“I think one of the tragedies I’ve seen is when people focus so much on their own hurt that they can never look outside of themselves to see how they can use their hurt to minister to somebody else.”

Think of someone today who could use an encouraging word. Call or send a card to that person.

“He will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

Great God, may I think of others first and stop focusing on myself. Amen.

There is no other way for us to make sense of losing our children other than God must have a very special purpose for us and our children and I think our rewards will be great in Heaven as I also believe our children are experiencing such beauty and peace that they never knew on earth and many rewards for all their suffering. God chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus because He knew that she was strong and special…we also, as Angel Moms must be regarded in very high esteem by God to be given such a task. We were chosen for this for some very important purpose. It is not something I would have ever willingly agreed to…but I am beginning to contemplate more and more the meaning for all of us. Perhaps, this will sound strange to a lot of Angel Moms…but it is really something to thing about from a different perspective… I just know that our loving Father is faithful to us in all things.
Grace, peace, love, and healing for all~Samantha Hart Tripp (Brent Michael Tripp’s Mom)
Samantha Hart Tripp says:   
September 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm