Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer stops at some gang graffiti near the Northtown-Shiloh branch of the Dayton Metro Library.

Heroin's Impact: Special report from the Dayton Daily News

Heroin's impact on the Miami Valley has been signifiant. Dayton Daily News reporters Arundi Venkayya and Chris Stewart spent weeks investigating the issue to produce this special report published in July 2014 about people in the Dayton community and the ways they're working to battle heroin's deadly impact.

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  • Heroin's Impact
    Kicking heroin a long, hard road

    Ten percent of American adults — 23.5 million people — consider themselves to be in recovery from drug or alcohol problems. In Ohio, more than $216 million was spent in fiscal year 2013 on alcohol, drug and addiction services. "It’s so devastating and it’s so common," said Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS).

  • Heroin's Impact
    'I don’t want to live like this anymore'

    He continued using. One night he started to cry and another addict, a friend, asked what was wrong. "Man, I don’t want to live like this anymore," he told him. That moment was Messer’s salvation. His addict friend pointed him to TCN Behavioral Health in Xenia as the friend was "nodding out." He’s stayed clean for two years.

  • Heroin's Impact
    Heroin carving a destructive path

    Everywhere you look, heroin is carving a destructive path through the Miami Valley, turning husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and neighbors into shells of who they used to be. And every day — often two times, three times and four times a day — someone in Ohio dies chasing a heroin high or trying to ward off the debilitating symptoms of withdrawal.

  • April Erion
    April’s story

    Xanax made April groggy and slurry in her words and she developed “Xanatude,” a bad attitude that made her belligerent. Erion remembered a night when April was upset because she wanted to go to a party after police broke up another one she was at and her mom picked her up to go home. "She started getting really crazy belligerent with me," Erion said. She pulled over and April got out of the car and walked home in the rain.

  • Andy Conway
    ‘I want to be normal’

    By his early 20s, he was using cocaine. To support his habit, he started shoplifting. He worked sometimes but the cycle of probation and reoffending quickly took over his life. "I want to be normal," he used to say to his family. "That’s what we want," they agreed.

  • A former addict

    David Messer: 'I had every opportunity to choose something better. I just didn't.'

  • A medical officer

    Franklin Halley, chief medical officer, TCN Behavioral Services: 'We know that (if) people just try to stop without assisted treatment, their success rate is maybe 5, 10 percent at best.'

  • A treatment center

    'When you're abusing substances or you're dependent on substances, the likelihood of coming back another day or being scheduled ... a couple weeks from now is not going to be productive for them.'

  • A judge

    Fairborn Municipal Court Judge Beth Root: 'Everybody sees the hopelessness in the person's face'

  • A mother

    Carol Conway of Kettering described losing her son, Andy, at 36: 'I went in, and he was in this hunched-over position. I just gave him a kiss on the forehead and said, "It's over for you Andy."'

  • A mother

    Heidi Riggs describes how she felt when she discovered her daughter, Marin: 'Her beautiful hair was used to hide the needle marks in her neck.'

  • An agent

    Sgt. Ables of the RANGE Task Force: 'They come from all over unfortunately to Montgomery County to purchase the narcotics.'

  • The Superintendent

    Tom Stickrath, superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation: 'I hear from mayors, from chiefs of police, from sheriffs, from narcotics officers, "Help." I hear pleas for help.'

  • The Attorney General

    Attorney General Mike DeWine: 'Did drying up the pill mills and starting to change the culture with pain medications, did that accelerate (the heroin problem)? Yeah, it probably did.'

  • A suspect

    Bradley Davidson of Dayton, arrested after authorities spotted him buying and using drugs: 'It just keeps from being sick.'

  • Treatment options

    Treatment facilities map
  • Death toll

    Death statistics

Reporting: Chris Stewart and Arundi Venkayya • Photos: Chris Stewart • Videos: Chris Stewart