Addict says heroin his first love


Help of oldest daughter brings renewed hope

By Melody Vallieu and Melanie Yingst - Miami Valley Today



Melanie Yingst | Miami Valley Today Former Miami County Jail inmate Christopher Reynolds speaks with Miami Valley Today Editor Melody Vallieu at the jail.


Fatal drug overdoses increase to record number

COLUMBUS (AP) — Fatal drug overdoses increased to a record 4,854 last year in Ohio, a 20 percent rise compared with the previous year, according to information reported to the state. Data on unintentional drug deaths provided to the Ohio Department of Health show 2017 was the eighth year in a row that drug deaths increased, The Columbus Dispatch reported earlier this year.

Ohio’s county coroners logged 4,050 fatal overdoses in 2016. The newspaper’s review of the data shows the synthetic opioid fentanyl continued to fuel the drug epidemic, accounting for nearly three-fourths of last year’s overdose deaths and killing 3,431 people. That was 46 percent higher than in the previous year.

Cocaine-related deaths increased 39 percent from 1,109 in 2016 to 1,540 last year. Positive news shown by the data included a 46 drop in heroin deaths to 987 last year for the fewest deaths in four years.

Fatal overdoses from prescription opioids also fell in 2017 to 523. That was the lowest number in eight years, down from a peak of 724 deaths in 2011, the newspaper reported.

Russ Kennedy, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, says while review of the data confirms fentanyl is “driving overdose deaths in the state,” Ohio also is seeing “significant progress in reducing the number of prescription opioids available for abuse.”

He also noted that the information shows the number of unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio declined during the second half of 2017 by 23 percent.

A recent state report on drug trends stated that “drug cartels have flooded Ohio” with fentanyl, and many users don’t realize they’ve taken the opioid because it’s being cut into heroin and cocaine and even “pressed” into prescription opioids.

“Drug dealers are flooding communities with different drugs to see what takes. They are very smart businesspeople,” said Lori Criss, chief executive officer of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers.

Cheri Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, said the state’s death toll was high, but could have been much worse.

“The reality is, we’ve focused on opioids and heroin, and now we’re seeing more deaths involving other drugs, so we’ve got to (broaden our) focus on treatment” for all kinds of addiction, Walter said.

Gov. John Kasich’s administration is spending more than $1 billion a year to fight the drug epidemic, most of it to provide addiction treatment though Medicaid expansion. The state also is investing in providing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to first responders and others, and in supporting efforts including drug courts, housing for recovering addicts and educational programs.

TROY — The love of his wife isn’t enough.

The unconditional love of a mother who stands by him isn’t enough.

Even his five children, ranging in age from young children to adults, and their love simply aren’t enough.

In fact, Christopher Reynolds doesn’t know if anything will ever be enough to top the addiction to his first love: heroin.

“Sometimes I know in my heart I love my kids. But sometimes I love drugs more. It’s a big pill to swallow,” he said. “If I could not do drugs, if I wasn’t an addict, I would be a good dad.”

He didn’t start out as an addict, he said, just a typical teenager, drinking and experimenting with drugs such as marijuana.

“It started out we did it just to have fun and it just escalated,” said the high school dropout, who said he also has used cocaine, methamphetamine and Oxycontin.

By 18, instead of the role model he needed his father to be, he was instead caring for his father — picking him up out of the front yard, drunk and covered in his own urine.

He honestly believed he would be different, do better for himself.

He hasn’t.

The 37-year-old Piqua native instead has spent his life in and out of jail and prison for crimes all related to the all-powerful drugs he so craves.

He said he first did heroin at 18 when he was drinking at a party and left with friends to purchase drugs. They gave him heroin to snort on the way back to the party.

“It felt really good. I never stopped.”

Over the years, break-ups with girlfriends, his lack of being able to parent, the stresses of life were all triggers that made him use to run away from his feelings, his reality.

In 2010, he ran a woman over when she stepped in front of his vehicle. She died from her injuries. He wasn’t charged, but he said it is something he lives with every day and believes he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result. He said he also has anxiety issues and bipolar disorder.

“I wasn’t high, but I was on my way to buy drugs,” said Reynolds, who has armed robbery and escape convictions on his record. “It screwed me up. You’d think it would make you quit using, but it kicked it into overdrive.”

In 2013, he got clean for the first — and only — time with the help of Suboxone.

“It gave me a buzz, but I had it legally. I got up, I drank my coffee, I took my Suboxone and I went to work,” said Reynolds.

He spent the next two years living a working man’s life — ran his own painting business, bought a car, a house.

It all changed in an instant.

“I caught an employee in the bathroom doing meth,” said Reynolds, self-conscious of speaking because of the loss of his teeth during a robbery gone bad. “Instead of firing him, I did what I do famously: I joined him.”

Reynolds said he simply gets bored with everyday life, nothing is ever enough. He said he feels like his mind is constantly going — what he considers to be a yet another mental disorder no one has ever dug deeply enough to completely diagnose.

During the interview in the Miami County Jail, Reynolds had just recovered from a fentanyl overdose during which he said he was dead for several minutes before being revived. He cried when he shared how his mom asks him to do better, and how she has hopes he will be out soon — though he knows better.

“I hate this place so much, but everything I do is around this place. I wish to God that it wasn’t, but it is,” said Reynolds, who earned his GED while incarcerated at the Miami County Jail. “I’ve been locked up so much, I’ve spent so much time in jail, when I’m out, it’s like being on vacation. All I want to do is party. Then I get back in trouble.”

He said he has begged, borrowed and stolen for drugs, including panhandling. Reynolds said the road to drugs — literally the drives to Dayton to score the heroin — are some of his most vivid memories.

“The process of getting the drugs. All that is really addicting, too.

“I stole my mom’s TV, and that just kills me. She’s never given up on me,” said Reynolds, openly crying. “I even stole the change jar at a gas station, you know the one that they have out to give your change to charity. Stole it.”

Reynolds, who believes he has memory loss from the two decades of drug use, said he has seen many die from drug overdoses, mostly fellow users.

“I’ve lost a few friends,” he said. “But, I’ve lost a lot of people that I know.”

Reconnecting with his 18-year-old daughter has brought some life back into the addict. He had not seen her for 15 years when she sought him out in jail. She now makes regular visits to see him, building a relationship Reynolds values.

“That gives me hope. She can come here and not hold grudges. It gives me a different outlook on things. Makes me want a little bit more,” said Reynolds, who said his brothers and sisters have disowned him and won’t speak with their mother. “My kids are way more mature than me.”

He’s still wanted in five counties on a litany of charges, all in the name of drugs, and knows he soon will return to prison — for what he hopes is the last time.

“I now have hope,” said Reynolds, who once worked for a Columbus farmer and found working with animals soothing. “To me, this isn’t living, this is existing.”

Reynolds, who said he must now be brutally honest with himself, said he believes his best chance at recovery is entering an inpatient treatment plan at some point to learn coping skills to get clean, possibly with the help of Suboxone again.

“Everything I’ve done in my life, I’ve done to myself. I don’t blame others anymore. I’ve dug this hole. I now got to do what I’ve got to do to fix it,” he said. “I’m really happy just to be alive.”

https://www.tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2018/12/web1_opioid-logo-ohio-1-.jpg

Melanie Yingst | Miami Valley Today Former Miami County Jail inmate Christopher Reynolds speaks with Miami Valley Today Editor Melody Vallieu at the jail.
https://www.tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2018/12/web1_IMG_0297.jpgMelanie Yingst | Miami Valley Today Former Miami County Jail inmate Christopher Reynolds speaks with Miami Valley Today Editor Melody Vallieu at the jail.
Help of oldest daughter brings renewed hope

By Melody Vallieu and Melanie Yingst

Miami Valley Today

Fatal drug overdoses increase to record number

COLUMBUS (AP) — Fatal drug overdoses increased to a record 4,854 last year in Ohio, a 20 percent rise compared with the previous year, according to information reported to the state. Data on unintentional drug deaths provided to the Ohio Department of Health show 2017 was the eighth year in a row that drug deaths increased, The Columbus Dispatch reported earlier this year.

Ohio’s county coroners logged 4,050 fatal overdoses in 2016. The newspaper’s review of the data shows the synthetic opioid fentanyl continued to fuel the drug epidemic, accounting for nearly three-fourths of last year’s overdose deaths and killing 3,431 people. That was 46 percent higher than in the previous year.

Cocaine-related deaths increased 39 percent from 1,109 in 2016 to 1,540 last year. Positive news shown by the data included a 46 drop in heroin deaths to 987 last year for the fewest deaths in four years.

Fatal overdoses from prescription opioids also fell in 2017 to 523. That was the lowest number in eight years, down from a peak of 724 deaths in 2011, the newspaper reported.

Russ Kennedy, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, says while review of the data confirms fentanyl is “driving overdose deaths in the state,” Ohio also is seeing “significant progress in reducing the number of prescription opioids available for abuse.”

He also noted that the information shows the number of unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio declined during the second half of 2017 by 23 percent.

A recent state report on drug trends stated that “drug cartels have flooded Ohio” with fentanyl, and many users don’t realize they’ve taken the opioid because it’s being cut into heroin and cocaine and even “pressed” into prescription opioids.

“Drug dealers are flooding communities with different drugs to see what takes. They are very smart businesspeople,” said Lori Criss, chief executive officer of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers.

Cheri Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, said the state’s death toll was high, but could have been much worse.

“The reality is, we’ve focused on opioids and heroin, and now we’re seeing more deaths involving other drugs, so we’ve got to (broaden our) focus on treatment” for all kinds of addiction, Walter said.

Gov. John Kasich’s administration is spending more than $1 billion a year to fight the drug epidemic, most of it to provide addiction treatment though Medicaid expansion. The state also is investing in providing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to first responders and others, and in supporting efforts including drug courts, housing for recovering addicts and educational programs.