Streets Of Moneyton
THE STREETS OF MONEYTON
The Hillbilly Highway was alive and well in the fifties and sixties and full of dreams as Appalachians happily followed the path to Detroit in search of jobs in the booming auto factories.
Decades later, The Hillbilly Highway is alive again this time with the hollow ambition and poison of Detroit drug dealers. The drug dealers leave the competition of the streets of Detroit and head to the mountains of Appalachia to supply the high demand.
The Hillbilly Highway was a road filled with dreams. Now, it is a road full of nightmares. It's kind of a dream killer.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of drug dealers have landed in Huntington, West Virginia. The demand is so high in Huntington that the drug dealers have branded Huntington as 'Moneyton' and nearby Ashland, Ky as 'Cashland'.
The original nickname given to Huntington was 'Munnington'. Jail guards in the nineties noticed that as their jail began filling up with Detroit drug dealers that their knuckles were tattooed with a letter on each knuckle: M-u-n-n-I-n-g-t-o-n. the nickname spun into Moneyton.
The demand is so high the poison commands top dollar. In fact, the demand for painkillers and the low availability has driven the cost of OxyContin way up.
The streets of Moneyton are full of Pill Zombies, Meth Mouths, Crack Heads, and Needle Jockeys or Heroin Junkies.
The drug problem is not limited to Huntington, or Appalachia, for that matter. The drug plague has reached near epidemic proportions across the country. The disturbing factor about Huntington is the clouds of complacent attitude or denial that hangs over the city.
The attitude was evident in Huntington's 2012's mayoral election. Incumbent Mayor Kim Wolfe bragged that crime rates were the lowest since the eighties and crime was down. While Mayor Wolfe bragged about Huntington's streets being safer the streets of Moneyton started loading up with heroin.
Ironically, on Election Day 2012 (the day Wolfe was defeated in his re-election bid), the streets of Moneyton erupted with the news that two Detroit drug dealers were murdered in a house in Huntington.
The citizens of Huntington who walk the streets of Moneyton everyday will tell you there's a drug problem in Huntington, they will show you drug houses all over town. Not just in Fairfield, but in Highlawn, the West End, and even outside city limits in Barboursville and across the bridge in Proctorville and Chesapeake, Ohio.
Ask Mayor Steve Williams of Huntington if there is a drug problem and he is likely to stammer and change the subject. Mayor Steve creates new positions in his attempt to grow Huntington but if he really wanted to create a position that Huntington needs, he would name a Drug Czar.
In this book, not only will I discuss Huntington's drug problem, but also solutions to the drug problem.
CHAPTER 1 DRUG VIOLENCE IN MONEYTON
The biggest symptom of a city with a drug problem is drug-related violence. Huntington certainly has had its' share of drug violence over the past decade. Many of the shootings have involved someone from Detroit as either the victim or the shooter.
Any discussion of drug violence in Huntington must start with The Prom Night Murders of May 22, 2005.
May 22, 2005 was Huntington's 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. It is truly a night that will live in infamy and perhaps ranks only behind The Marshall University Football Team plane crash on November 14, 1970 and The Emmons Jr. apartment fire on January 13, 2007 as Huntington's most tragic night.
On May 22, 2005, Huntington lost its' innocence regarding drugs and the term 'Detroit drug dealers' became part of Huntington's vocabulary.
Residents along Charleston Avenue in Huntington were woke up that Sunday morning by gunshots and screams. When the gunfire ended, four teenage bodies were left lying lifeless at 1410 Charleston Avenue.
The victims were Donte Ward, 19; Eddrick Clark, 18; Michael Dillon, 17; and Megan Poston, 16. Poston was Dillon’s date to his high school prom Saturday night. Authorities said the two other victims did not attend the prom.
In an article from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Captain Steve Hall said, "We believe, obviously, that there's a Detroit connection. We haven't seen anything to change our minds."
The shooter was never prosecuted but it was widely believed that Donte Ward was targeted by Detroit thugs because he had stolen from a woman connected to Detroit drug dealers. The other three were shot so they could not identify the shooter.
The Post - Gazette article by Milan Simonich stated in the March 16, 2006 article, "These days, just about every drug arrest in Huntington produces suspects from Detroit. The quadruple homicide is a variation of that pattern, Capt. Hall says."
Even nine years later, the pattern still remains the same. Just about every drug arrest in Huntington produces suspects from Detroit.
There have been many drug-related shootings over the last decade. The common denominator appears to be a combination of drugs and robbery. Either someone robs a dealer or a deal somehow goes wrong.
On September 24, 2013, six people were shot in Northcott Court in the Fairfield district of Huntington. Antonio Michael Smith was arrested in Brooklyn, New York and charged with six counts of malicious wounding and one count of wanton endangerment.
Smith was also arrested on two Task Force Federal Indictments for Felon in possession of a firearm and distribution of heroin.
No one died in the incident as the shooter shot his victims in the lower extremities.
The drug violence followed crack cocaine into town in the mid-eighties. OxyContin kept the violence around in the 2000s and now heroin has the violence, which at one time was centralized around Fairfield district, spreading all over Huntington.
Drug dealers moved into Huntington from Detroit and turned Huntington into a hub of drug trafficking. Addicts would and still do come from all over West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio to buy their fix.
Local drug dealers were sponsoring people to make drug runs and doctor shop to pill mills in southern Ohio, Florida, and Georgia. With heroin, crack, and pills coming in from Detroit and prescription drugs coming up from the south, Huntington was a drug Mecca.
As users became addicts, they became unable to afford the habit. Robberies and breaking and entering began increasing in Huntington. Violent crimes began to increase as druggies would get desperate and rob dealers or dealers would become inpatient with druggies that owed them money and made examples out of them.
While murders were rising, Death also arrived to The Tri-State area in the form of fatal overdoses.
Firearms are in great supply in Huntington. Drug dealers from Detroit utilize the concept of supply and demand by buying drugs cheaply in Detroit where there is more competition. They sell them higher in Huntington where the demand is high.
In turn, some dealers buy firearms in Huntington where the supply is high making them cheaper and selling them in Detroit where the high demand and lower supply drives up the price and the profit for the dealer.
In 2013, the spread of heroin throughout town resulted in the spreading of violence throughout Huntington. The crack cocaine wars in past years kept most of the violence in the Fairfield district as most of the crack smokers were black.
It appears that most of the heroin users in Huntington are white, so it is natural that the violence is flowing into neighborhoods dominated by the white population.
Christopher Carter, 25, was killed in Barboursville, WV, which is right outside Huntington's city limits in January 2013. His girlfriend allegedly stole heroin off of two Detroit drug dealers. The dealers, Terry "Boots" Morton and Tyerus "Tank" Hayes, shot Carter after an altercation.
Collins Jamall Harris, of Detroit, was found shot to death in a known drug house on 26th Street on November 3, 2013.
Robert Crutcher was shot and killed in a dispute over drugs on 27th Street in the Highlawn district of Huntington on December 17, 2013 by James Lee Johnson of Detroit.
One factor working in Huntington's favor is the lack of gang activity. There does not appear to be a connected network of dealers. Most dealers are independent but there are hundreds of dealers in Huntington. The dealers are no longer isolated to one area but spread all over town.
The spreading of drug dealers and the spreading of drug violence throughout Huntington means that the demand for drugs is all over Huntington.
CHAPTER 2 THE FLAWED LOCAL JUDICIAL SYSTEM
The judicial system is allowing drug addicts, drug dealers, and other offenders back on the streets too soon. Magistrates, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers are using the excuse that jails or prisons are overcrowded and then are cutting deals to put offenders back on the streets to commit more crimes.
My main concern is that the courts are being used to generate money. The courts make money even if the case never reaches court, because once the suspect is arrested, they have to post bond to get out. Then, if the case never gets picked up by the grand jury or never gets called to court, the money remains with the court system.
For instance, if someone pays $500 to get out on bond, they do not get the money back. They are thankful if they never have to go to court and risk going to prison or paying a higher fine, but that money disappears into the court system.
Therefore, if that is true, the court is making money although justice is not served. The criminal gets someone in their family to bond them out and they are back on the street with no real penalty, free to pilfer and loot. The courts ring up a profit. Meanwhile, no lesson is learned by anyone and the public is at risk. As history shows, the criminal will look for more victims. Meanwhile, the public is left to be the victim in the criminal’s next stunt.
The court basically gives the criminal the opportunity to steal or hurt again as the court clerk sticks the bond money into the cash register and happily goes onto the next case. Who says crime does not pay? It surely does not for the victim but often does for the criminal and certainly does for the judicial system.
An article in the December 28, 2013, Herald-Dispatch entitled "Heroin: A Growing Concern" by David E. Malloy stated:
"Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles has seen a similar increase in heroin cases coming across his desk. While some lawmakers in Ohio and Kentucky are calling for tougher sentences, Chiles said he has mixed feelings on the issue.
"I don't know if it will do that much good," he said. "A heroin addict isn't thinking about consequences. We already have overcrowded prisons. I don't know what the answer is."
It appears that Chris Chiles wants to keep business as usual. The current method of plea bargaining certainly is job security for anyone in the legal field, because as long as these criminals are released and on the streets of Moneyton, they will return back in front of a judge or magistrate.
If a stricter sentence will not deter someone from committing a crime than at least they will be off the streets and unable to hurt anyone. At least while they are in prison, they should not be able to do drugs. Theoretically, when they return to the streets of Moneyton after an extended stay in a jail or prison, they should be clean.
In a September 1, 2013 Herald-Dispatch article entitled "Police Blame Crimes On Heroin Addicition", West Virginia State Trooper G.N. Losh said, "It just seems to me that we're locking up the people who scare us. But we're just not tending to the people who annoy us. We've got to start paying attention to that because what we don't see is it's an ever-growing crime that's not going to get any better."
In the same article Huntington Police chief skip Holbrook spoke his mind on what would work with repeat offenders:
"It's important for law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts to all pull in the same direction," Holbrook said. "Yes, there are some first-time offenders that have an addiction problem that I think are very much good candidates for some type of alternative, but we've got a lot of people who are perpetrating these property crimes, who are the same ones law enforcement has been dealing with for years. I mean just repeatedly. So there are some people who need to go to jail."
The courts have tried home confinement but it is not recommended for drug crimes. There have been complaints of home confinement felons dealing drugs from home while on sentence.
On December 17, The Herald-dispatch reported the following in an article by Lacie Pierson entitled "Man On home Confinement Charged With drug Possession":
"Richard Richardson, 18, of Huntington, was charged with two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and one count of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance last Friday.
A deputy was dispatched to a home in the 300 block of 35th Street Friday to assist two home confinement officers.
The officers told the deputy that they witnessed a man throw what appeared to be drugs when they approached him for a home confinement visit.
The deputy found Ecstasy, heroin and marijuana in the man's possession along with $1,340 in cash. The deputy said the drugs were packaged for sale, and the man reportedly told the deputy that his mother gave him the cash to pay his taxes because he didn't have a job."
Habitual offenders are slipping through the cracks and landing on the streets of Huntington, WV. Huntington has become a game of catch and release as familiar faces appear in front of the magistrates and judges over and over. Maybe it’s a case of regular customers paying their fines almost like they are preferred shoppers, but the criminals obviously do not learn from their mistakes as they return to the courtroom time and time again.
On several occasions, the behavior continued until someone was seriously hurt or killed. It appears that once a criminal gets away with so much, that fear of the law no longer becomes a deterrent. When criminals lose fear of being caught, citizens are the one who are placed in danger.
Charlie Runyon was a major local drug dealer in the 80’s. In the early 90’s, WOWK 13 ran a headline story that Charlie had been arrested over 90 times and there were many who wanted him tried as a habitual criminal. Charlie was never prosecuted as a habitual criminal. In fact he was arrested several more times until the early 2000’s.
Then one night at the Huntington Hotel, Charlie was in the presence of two other men. They were going to rob a man in a room. As the robbery progressed, the potential victim shot and killed one of Charlie’s accomplishes. Charlie was originally charged with murder since a murder occurred while a robbery was being carried out. The charge was plea bargained down to about 10 to 15 years but since Charlie was/ is in his 50’s, he will be very old by the time he is put back on the streets.
A notorious recent case involved Steve Stover. Stover had been arrested for DUI’s several times in the last 20 years. For 20 years he slipped through the cracks of the system. He was charged with third offense driving under the influence on three different occasions. Each time those cases were either dropped or plea bargained down. He was even arrested in 2005 for his eighth DUI arrest. The prosecutor only charged him with first offense dui. He only received 48 hours in jail and a fine of $100.
Well, Stover fell through the cracks and landed back on the streets. Actually, he landed back on the road behind the wheel of a car. On November 28, 2011, Stover drove drunk for the last time. He was killed in a car accident as he was driving intoxicated and he took a sweet 14 year-old girl with him. He crossed the line on Route 2 and killed a passenger in the other car.
A young life was taken as this man never got the help or punishment he deserved. If he had received the 1-2 year jail sentence he deserved for previous offenses, maybe it would have deterred him from getting behind the wheel drunk and the girl would still be alive. Maybe not. But, we will never know. We only know that the law failed the 14 year old girl. An innocent girl pays the price of a habitual offender.
Habitual offenders who commit violent crimes should be on home confinement. Home confinement is obviously cheaper than jail and brings in money, the criminals have to pay to wear it. But, it should be used for primary offenses and not for habitual offenders and those who commit violent crimes.
There are several criminals who are very familiar with local law enforcement authorities. Many have several arrests in Ohio and West Virginia. Many are petty crimes but as they commit more and more crimes, it is likely that the petty crimes lead them to commit more serious crimes.
When a person has twenty or more arrests, it should become apparent that these criminals are not fit to live on our streets. We need a habitual criminal crime that serves as a deterrent and also serves to protect innocent citizens from criminals who cannot change their bad behavior.
In addition, we need a regular review of which judges and magistrates are plea bargaining down crimes committed to habitual criminals. We need to vote out magistrates who slap habitual criminals on the wrist. It should be apparent that habitual criminals do not have respect for the law, and it will only be a matter of time before an accident happens in the crimes they commit or they travel through gateway crimes to more serious crime and someone pays for a habitual criminal’s crime with their life or lives.
Huntington's drug problem is keeping the courts busy. If Huntington could turn back from Moneyton then there would not be as many criminals to prosecute and house.
Drugs cause an increase in other crimes. The following is taken from the September 1, 2013 Herald-Dispatch. The article is "Police Blame Crimes on Heroin Addictions" by Curtis Johnson:
"West Virginia State Police are being inundated locally with shoplifting, purse snatching and low-level larceny calls, most of which Huntington's detachment commander blames on the area's ever increasing heroin addiction.
Authorities say it's just another example of the connection between drugs and other crimes, many times property offenses that are committed as addicts look for money to support their habit."
The article further explains how shoplifting can help addicts obtain drugs:
"For instance, Losh asked one suspect what he intended to do with the shoplifted merchandise. The suspect responded saying he and others immediately return the item without a receipt and receive a gift card from the store. That gift card is then traded to the addict's supplier for half of its value in heroin.
"So if you come back with a $50 gift card, you're going to get $25 worth of heroin," Losh said. "For some of these people, $30 (in heroin) may do them for the day, but what we're seeing is $100, $200 habits. I ain't got that kind of money, and these people don't, either."
It would appear that if the drug problem could be solved then shoplifting, armed robberies, breaking and entering, forgeries, and other petty crimes could be greatly reduced. Drugs are fueling crime on the streets of Moneyton.
So if Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles would provide the leadership necessary for solving Huntington's drug problem he would be making his job easier and help reduce jail and prison overcrowding by not just having fewer drug offenders but fewer theft cases and fewer people in jail for robberies and thefts.
Later in the book, it will be discussed how the leaders in the community can help reduce drug addiction in Huntington.
CHAPTER 3 PILL ZOMBIES ON THE STREETS OF MONEYTON
Crack cocaine helped build Moneyton in the mid to late eighties. The highly addictive drug is more of an urban drug. It highly impacted the Fairfield district around Hal Greer Boulevard.
Crack cocaine brought drug violence to Huntington and transformed Huntington to Moneyton. The introduction of crack made Moneyton a suburb of Detroit as drug dealers starting coming down The Hillbilly Highway.
In the fifties and sixties, Appalachians lit up The Hillbilly Highway as they roared into Detroit in search of jobs in the thriving auto factories. In the last decade as Detroit has teetered toward bankruptcy, drug dealers have left the high unemployment of Detroit and travelled down The Hillbilly Highway to West Virginia for lucrative jobs as black market drug salesmen on the streets of Moneyton.
Crack is still on the streets of Moneyton but it isn't the top dog now. 'Dogfood', the street name for heroin, is the big dog in Moneyton.
While crystal meth has dominated rural areas and taken over West Virginia towns like Sissonville, St. Albans, and Nitro, it has not been a big player on the streets of Moneyton. The further one goes out to Wayne and toward Eastern Kentucky, the more prominent crystal meth is.
Nerve pills like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin are very popular. But, these pills are usually not enough for hardcore addicts. Addicts use them like a side dish or appetizer for painkillers, which are the main course.
Lower grade painkillers like Lortab and Percocet flow like M&Ms on the streets of Moneyton, but they are not kings in Moneyton.
OxyContin, commonly referred to as "Hillbilly Heroin", took Moneyton to new heights in the last decade. The painkiller, used to treat cancer patients, is handing the keys to Moneyton off to the new ruler of the streets of Moneyton: heroin.
Ironically, it is the government that is helping heroin become King of Moneyton. Now, of course, it is good that OxyContin is not as readily available as it once was, but there are problems with the transition, which we will talk about when we discuss gates and gateways.
But, one advantage OxyContin has over heroin, is that OxyContin is made in a factory and is regulated by the FDA; whereas heroin is easily cut with rat poison and no one is totally sure what they are getting. Plus, heroin has different grades and if heroin is more pure than what the user is aware of, the user may easily overdose.
As OxyContin wreaked havoc across the country ruining lives, breaking up families, killing users through overdoses, spurring robberies and creating drug violence, it became obvious that something had to be done to quell what was becoming an epidemic.
Ohio shut down the pill mills that were flourishing in southern Ohio. Pill mills had popped up in small towns like Portsmouth, Ohio and were being frequented by addicts from all over Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia.
When Ohio was finally successful in closing the clinics down, the attention was then focused on limiting the clinics in Florida and Georgia.
OxyContin takes a few hours to kick in when swallowed. If the pills are crushed, mixed with water, and injected with a syringe, the effect is immediate. But then, the government pressured drug companies to make pills that could not be crushed and snorted or injected. When that happened, heroin started looking more attractive to addicts.
The price of OxyContin then raised because the supply was way lower than the demand. Heroin was moving into Moneyton and it was cheaper.
CHAPTER 4 HEROIN: KING OF MONEYTON
"Heroin is an opiate, a class of drugs that are either naturally derived from the flowers of the poppy plant, or synthetic substitutes. In the case of heroin, it’s produced from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that comes from the seedpod of poppy plants. All opiate abuse, including heroin and many prescriptions painkillers carries a strong risk of addiction and physical dependence. Heroin is abused by injecting, snorting or smoking it, and all three can cause the same level of addiction, as well as serious health problems."
Heroin is an epidemic which is raging across our country hitting cities and small towns. Just like in towns in New Jersey, Illinois, and ther states, heroin has taken over the streets of Moneyton. More Huntington residents than ever before have turned to the drug, driven by the decreased availability of prescription opiates. The nation as a whole has become more aware of the toll of prescription drug abuse in recent years, leading to a reformulation of the popular OxyContin, the creation of prescription drug-monitoring programs, and a new reluctance among doctors to write prescriptions for unnecessary opiates.
With new obstacles in place, many who had become dependent on opiate painkillers found themselves turning to the cheaper, more readily available heroin as a substitute.
Heroin kills by reacting with the part of the brain that controls breathing, slowing it down so much that it might also stop it altogether. In other words, it depresses the respiratory system to the point of not breathing.
There are several ways heroin kills. One way is simply using way too much of the drug and overwhelming the users' body.
Another way is by mixing heroin with alcohol or other drugs. Heroin and alcohol both suppress the impulse to breathe. Combining heroin with Xanax also has the same deadly effect. A speedball using cocaine, an upper, and heroin, a downer, can stop the heart.
Heroin can be deadly because each batch has a different level of purity. It's not exactly how much heroin a person does that can determine if they overdose or not but how pure the heroin is. If a person is not use to pure heroin, they can easily overdose. A common mistake is a user is used to doing a fifty from one dealer but then buys a fifty from another dealer next time and because that batch is more pure, they may overdose.
A user that has not shot up heroin in a while may overdose easy. If a person has not used in a while, their tolerance level has dropped and their body cannot handle as much heroin as they used to be able to do. Thus,a person can do the same amount they did just a few months before and it can kill them.
Heroin is often ‘cut’ with other substances in order to make the amount the dealer has gone further.
Items such as sugar and salt or powdered milk are often used as substitutes for heroin in the cutting process. However, less scrupulous persons may also make a concoction based on heroin plus drain cleaner, detergent, bleach powders, or even rat poison. All of the latter types of substances can cause severe reactions within the user, sometimes leading to an ‘overdose’. Death by strychnine poisoning (strychnine being the common ingredient in rat poison) has occurred among batches of drug users.
The poison can give the user an extra kick that they may think is the heroin but is actually the poison.
The injection of heroin requires needles which spreads dangerous diseases such as Hepatitis and HIV.
In 2007, black tar heroin ripped into The streets of Moneyton. The Los Angeles times reported:
"The death was part of a rash of overdoses, 12 of them fatal, that shook Huntington that fall and winter. All were caused by black-tar heroin, a potent, inexpensive, semi-processed form of the drug that has spread across the United States."
Heroin users expect each batch of heroin they buy to be the same but that is not possible.
Heroin buyers need to be aware because there are many types of heroin going around. One of these substitutes for heroin is called Krokodil.
The drug, typically injected, has the street name “krokodil” because of greenish, scaly skin lesions addicts develop, giving them the appearance of having crocodile skin,
Krokodil originated out of Russia. It has not been seen in Huntington yet but there has been reports of it in Columbus. It was also spotted in Athens from someone who bought it from Columbus.
Krokodil is a very hazardous drug but it's cheap price could make it attractive to desparate heroin junkies. It is made from codeine mixed with gasoline, paint thinner, iodine or hydrochloric acid. This flesh-eating drug has the capability to turn one’s skin into the rotting flesh persona of a zombie. Talk of this drug in the media is increasing due to society’s fascination with zombie culture.
Some are doubting that it is in The United States, but if it were to hit the streets of Moneyton, it could spread quickly. One reason it could spread is because it is very cheap. A fix goes for about $5. A desperate user without any money would take a chance on it.
Another reason is that because it was cheap, wicked dealers would try to pass it off as an expensive drug and sell it to someone who was not aware of what they were buying. Of course, adventure seekers would always be up for the thrill of taking the drug.
With heroin thriving in popularity on the streets of Moneyton, drug dealers from Detroit have replaced pill mills as the place to go to get a fix. Heroin is cheaper than Oxycontin and Detroit drug dealers are conveniently located all around Huntington. Usually, the houses or apartments they live in are not in their name. They will find someone local, and often a girl, to put the utilities and house in their name. If something happens, they disappear into Detroit quickly.
They usually have nicknames or aliases that they are known by so they are basically anonymous in this area. Often their name is just one letter like 'B', 'C', or 'J'. It is all about discretion so if they leave they can go back home or somewhere else and start back up.
The dealers bring the heroin out of Detroit and sometimes use a Greyhound bus to bring it into city limits. Other times they will pay someone to carry it back in case they get caught then they will not be arrested.
The Kentucky State Police issued a press release about success in monitoring bus stations on June 6, 2013. It stated: "The Kentucky State Police in Ashland have arrested several individuals after conducting a three month investigation into illegal drug activity at the Ashland Greyhound Bus Terminal. The Kentucky State Police in Ashland received information stating several individuals were using the Ashland Greyhound terminal as a narcotic hub to traffic illegal drugs between the Ashland/Huntington area and Detroit, MI. At that time Troopers and Detectives began conducting an ongoing investigation into the illegal activity. Over the last three months Troopers have made numerous arrests associated with drug and traffic violations. These arrested have prevented large quantities of prescription pills, heroin and marijuana from reaching the streets in the Tri-State area. This effort not only affects the drug trade but also property crimes such as Burglaries and thefts which are closely tied to drug activity."
The Huntington Police Department IS doing a very good job. They are making arrests. It is the nature of police work to be reactive. It is hard to be proactive because of having sufficient evidence, manpower, ect. So due to several circumstances, often the HPD can only react to crime. They are not responsible for preventing crimes. The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington News.Net and our local television stations are full of the news of arrests made by The Huntington Police Department.
On December 31, 2013,The HPD made a big heroin bust on the west end of Huntington. According to WSAZ:
"Huntington Police executed a search warrant at an apartment in the 1400-block of Jefferson Avenue around 7 a.m. 12/31/13, after receiving several tips about drug activity.
Inside the apartment, police say they found one pound of heroin, with a street value of about $80,000, packaging materials, scales and nearly $12,000 cash.
Captain Rocky Johnson said, "The amount of heroin seized in this investigation underscores the fact that heroin is and continues to be the most pressing drug issue facing our community."
Three people who were inside the apartment were arrested.
Christopher LaMarr Shawn Harris, 27, of Brownstown, Michigan, Denzell LaMar Bunkley, 21, of Detroit, Michigan, and Steven Edward Lewis, 27, of Detroit, Michigan, were all charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin.
A fourth man, Brandon S. Keaton, 28, of Huntington, is wanted in connection with the case. Police say he is wanted for delivery of a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin. Keaton is known to frequent the West End of Huntington, according to police."
Working together will be the only way that Huntington can defeat the drug problem that is plaguing our city. We will discussion solutions later in the book.
CHAPTER 5 DETROIT DRUG DEALERS
Detroit, Michigan is over three hundred miles from Huntington, West Virginia. So since Huntington is not exactly a suburb of Detroit, the obvious question is why are there hundreds of Detroit drug dealers in Huntington?
The obvious answer is money. It is simply a case of supply and demand. What makes Huntington into Moneyton is money and demand. There are many addicts with cash in hand that want the product that the dealers offer.
The dealers bring their product onto the streets of Moneyton. Their product is bought cheaper in Detroit and sold at a higher profit margin in Huntington.
The dealers are treated like kings by young white girls who not only want heroin but idolize the Detroit dealers.
To illustrate how and why the dealers are so popular I will share an example from my fiction book "Money Town":
"Ask John Ross what is to blame for the drug culture that is being cultivated in Huntington. He will tell you that it is MTV’s fault. Ross feels that MTV made heroes out of criminal rappers. He thinks that MTV glorifies street thugs. Rappers and convicted felons like Lil’ Wayne have become role models. Young innocent West Virginian teenagers dream of either being Lil’ Wayne or having a boyfriend like him.
The rap videos glamorize the thug lifestyle. Ross believes that teenagers are brainwashed into idolizing common drug dealers. The kids then emulate their heroes by mimicking their lifestyle. “Geesh…” Ross thought. “John Wayne where are you now when we need heroes and real role models?”
Young West Virginia girls think Detroit drug dealers are cute. Ross often thought these must be the same people who think it is cool to make pets out of dangerous venomous snakes, because in the cop’s mind, the snakes and the drug dealers are one and the same.
Like the scorpion in the story of the scorpion and the frog, Detroit drug dealers are hardened creatures that will not change. By instinct, they will eventually do what they are programmed to do. Like an exotic tiger that turns on its owners, the Detroit drug dealer will eventually maim and kill. That is what they do. That is who they are.
It is common for Huntington girls to befriend Detroit drug dealers. The Detroit drug dealers will set up an apartment in a girl’s name. They will let the girl live there for free. In exchange, the dealers will have everything in the girl’s name. No record of the convicted Detroit felon actually being in Huntington. The dealer will then run back and forth between Huntington and Detroit. The girl living in the apartment becomes a front for drug business.
The girls just do not get it that they are not playing with television characters. They just do not understand that they are playing with hardened killers. The murderers come down from Detroit and kill and then disappear back up into Detroit. No one may even be aware that they had left Michigan at all."
Like the excerpt from "Money Town" displays, it is common practice is for the drug dealers to get a girl or girlfriend to put an apartment or house in the girl’s names. All utilities are put in the girl’s name. The rent and bills are paid for by drug profits. There is not any record of the dealers being in Huntington and if trouble arises they disappear easily.
The rules are different in Detroit. The dealers are not afraid to kill. The streets of Detroit are much rougher than the streets of Moneyton.
A dealer feels that they can not be viewed as being weak. If someone steals off of them and they do nothing, then it will be open season on that dealer as junkies will manipulate the dealer any way they can.
If a dealer does not handle it himself, he will hire someone to do it for him like in the case of The Prom Night Murders.
Addicts do not think of consequences, but drug dealing is a business and Detroit drug dealers are not in business to lose money.
CHAPTER 6 REAL STORIES OF MONEYTON
Moneyton is full of sad stories that display the damage drugs have done. Some survive drugs, but most eventually fall. The following are stories I have written in my blogs that contain true stories of real Huntington people.
Meagan Cregut Steele was a loving mother. She was a cherished daughter, a caring sister, a wife, and a fun-loving friend. Sadly, Meagan Cregut Steele is now another link of a sadistic chain that binds Huntington, West Virginia with Detroit, Michigan. Meagan Cregut Steele is another statistic, another young woman murdered by heroin.
The chain connecting our beloved Tri-State area with a dangerous, gang infested city over six hours away has grown longer in recent months. On election day of 2012, two Detroit drug dealers were gunned down in a robbery gone wrong. Already in this young year Detroit drug dealers shot and killed a local resident over drugs in a quiet neighborhood just outside city limits. Now, it was Detroit heroin that was responsible for snuffing out Megan Cregut Steele's young life at Day's Inn. Detroit heroin can be every bit as deadly as Detroit gangsters.
So what now? Another child grows up without a mother? Another mother stands at the grave of her daughter? Dos anything change in terms of the Huntington- Detroit chain? Will a leader emerge and boldly proclaim that enough is enough? Or will residents shrug their shoulders and say that theRE is one less junkie in our city?
Meagan was very sick. She had overdosed on drugs three weeks ago. She wanted to quit. She stayed at her good friend Joseph Pniewski's residence and was attempting to break free of heroin's crushing grip.
Joseph recognizes the plight of drug addicts. He understands that they are sick people who are more than just addicts but also parents, siblings, sons or daughters, and friends.
Joseph offers a kind word, a helping hand, a hot meal, and relief from the cold. He was confident that Meagan was getting better. She probably was. But heroin has a crushing grip. It never let's go.
In fact, it is very likely that it was the that she was getting better that may have played a role in her death. Heroin users don't realize that their tolerance to drugs decreases when they quit using. The same amount of drugs that got them comfortably numb months or weeks before can kill them after a long absence from drugs.
Drug addicts are sick...but can be cured. Rehabs can easily cost $1800 a day. Sometimes there is help available to get into a rehab but sometimes there isn't. Our community can help by being understanding and lending an empathetic ear or helping hand. Sometimes addicts can be saved, sometimes they can't. Maybe the difference between a city with a drug epidemic and one that doesn't have a drug problem is that a successful community lends a helping hand instead of turning a cold shoulder.
TYRONE PHILLIPS COMES BACK
Drugs have made a wasteland out of many parts of our country. It's tempting to want to build a fence around miles of drug zombies and create an "Escape From New York" type detention camp. Drugs usually destroys lives to point from which there is no return. That is simply what drugs do.
But when a man stares into the abyss and refuses to accept the misery that faces him, it becomes an inspiring story. The Tyrone Phillips Story is such a story.
Tyrone was a man who seemingly had it all. His basketball heroics in the early 90's was so inspiring that a man I work with named his dog after him. Tyrone Phillips had the moves and the touch. The Huntington playgrounds were full of youngsters emulating their hero.
Although he was an all-Southern Conference player and runner up Southern Conference player of the year, he had legal problems that led him to drop out of his college his senior year and played basketball in Canada and France. After breaking his wrist, he returned to Huntington.
When he returned, he started hanging out with the wrong crowd. This crowd led him into drugs. He borrowed some money off of a friend, a well known drug dealer, so he could attend his grandmother's funeral. While at his friend's to pickup the cash, someone attempted to rob the dealer and Tyrone was shot four times. Tyrone recovered.
In 1995, Tyrone was on his way to New York in hopes of signing another basketball contract. There was a wreck. Tyrone's passenger was killed and Tyrone was paralyzed.
Tyrone was in the hospital for three months. He had at least ten operations removing glass from his head and pressure from his brain. His career was definitely over this time. He would never walk again let alone sink a jump shot.
In the first 25 years of his life he lost a possible pro career, he lost his dream, he lost a friend due to a car wreck in which he was driving, and he had lost the use of his body as he was now a quadriplegic. Now, Tyrone was getting ready to lose his freedom.
According to http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1998/Paralyzed-Hoops-Star-Facing-Prison/id-6b6b18e7d457776513a4e896665596c7 , "Paralyzed Hoops Star Facing Prison" by Margie Mason:
" Federal grand jury indicted him for conspiracy to sell cocaine in October 1996 after prosecutors said Phillips gave his father and another man a list of drug clients from his hospital bed. They said Phillips authorized deals, made introductions and enforced debt collections.
''I was a target for drugs,'' he said. ''When they saw I had money, the first thing they assumed was it was drug money. They never found anything.''
Phillips was convicted in March in Huntington on two counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and three counts of having his father and others distribute cocaine in Huntington from 1995 to 1996. He was released on bond.
Phillips' father, Edward Phillips, 48, was sentenced to nine years in prison last year after pleading guilty to selling cocaine. The elder Phillips testified against his son on a plea bargain.
The younger Phillips admitted being in the drug business, but denied any involvement following his accident, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Shepard."
The Tyrone Phillips story could have very well ended there. It would have been a sad lonely, tragic ending. But Tyrone's character and toughness kicked in. Facing the greatest odds of his life, Tyrone survived prison. Tyrone returned to college and got a MA in Human Resources.
According to his website http://www.autismmanagementgroup.org/tyrone-phillips-ceo.html, "Mr. Phillips attributes his recovery to the Almighty God and his faith that with Him all things are possible. A man's journey is not to be quietly stored away in the memory of a few. He believes that his journey should be shared with others to motivate them to pursue greatness in their lives. He took this opportunity to donate his time to Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a motivational speaker. He mentors youth that are athletes to stay on their career and professional paths."
Tyrone not only survived his adversity but overcame it and used the experiences and lessons he learned to become a leader and help others.
His website continues: "Tyrone Phillips does not see a mountain as an obstacle unobtainable but yet speaks to the mountain and tells it to move. The world may see the circumstances in his life as impossible but Mr. Phillips sees them as motivation to pursue greatness. Due to the circumstance that he now has a perceived disability he made the decision to help others with disabilities. He saw a great need for additional Title XIX ID/ Waiver services in West Virginia. Against all circumstances, Tyrone Phillips opened a Behavioral Health Agency in Lavalette, WV that is Autism Management Group. Mr. Phillips is dedicated to serving others and enabling them to pursue their goals and dreams. The Wayne County community has welcomed him with open arms and we are excited about AMG's addition to the larger Waiver community."
Tyrone Phillips life certainly would have been easier if not for his involvement with drugs. But Tyrone refused to let his life be ruined. Tyrone is helping improve the lives of disabled citizens in our community and his story may inspire others to stay away from drugs or come back from adversity. Tyrone Phillips is winning much more these days than what he did on the court.
Sometimes, it is easy to cast drug addicts aside and want to throw away the key. I, for one, feel strongly that there are too many repeat offenders and I think people should pay for destroying the culture around them by poisoning it with drugs. But Tyrone Phillips paid back his debt to society by going to prison. Tyrone is truly a rare case.
Tyrone's story raises hope that drug zombies can be rehabilitated. I have had my doubts about that over the years but I am impressed with Tyrone's metamorphosis from drug dealer to hero to the handicapped. The important thing is that Tyrone paid his debt to society. He did his time in prison. He just did not let being handicapped or being a convicted felon stop him from being productive. He may have given basketball fans a thrill with his on court heroics, but his work with Autistic individuals is changing lives and giving his clients hope and dreams of their own.
I admire Tyrone's courage and i believe that in spite of his mistakes, he is a good citizen and perhaps a better role model now than when he was a local college basketball superstar. For Tyrone has taught us many lessons. He has taught us athletes and heroes are not perfect. He has taught us that drugs can mess up one's dreams and life. He has shown us that we can overcome adversity and challenges. He has shown us that being handicapped is not the end of our productivity. He has taught us that drug dealers can not only be forgiven but rehabilitated. He has taught us that if we lose one dream we can still find and reach another dream.
Yes, Tyrone Phillips has been a star basketball player, drug dealer, hero to the handicap, and now in a way... a teacher.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR IS a HEROIN SLAVE
She's a slave those she does not wear chains. The chains are around her heart. They are not held by a lock but by a needle. The chains are the chains of heroin addiction.
She's twenty years old and I have watched her grow from a little girl. I remember her from my neighborhood running around her yard. She was animated and had a bubbly smile on her face. She was always looking for someone to say hello too. A little girl who had Dora The Explorer's hair and loved Barney the Dinosaur.
I watched her grow into a cheerleader in sports and a junior high volleyball player. I remember her dressed in yellow for her prom as a sophomore.
I saw her the other day with a man close to my middle-age. She was on a date. She was eating dinner and staring into his eyes. I said hello. Her eyes were hollow. I could tell she was stoned.
Her parents have shared the forbidden secret with me. They want me to tell the story, confidential of course, but they want it to be a cautionary tale. They want to help others.
Their daughter had trouble adjusting to high school. She, who we will call Tia (not her real name), was pretty and friendly but, like most teenagers, had an unexplainable inferiority complex. She just never quite understood how special she was. That self-doubt and willing to fit in was later used against her.
She snuck away using old tricks like spending the night with friends and sneaking out. Her parents wanted to be trusting and did not want to isolate her from the world. It was their belief that by being too strict made the forbidden fruit that much more inviting.
Her family was middle class. Tia was running around with kids from 'good families'. Most of her friends were middle class and some came from affluent families. She started drinking at parties at age 15. Her parents later found out and although they were not approving they did not get too upset because they had drank at that age and 'they turned out okay.' They thought if they made a big fuss out of it it would just drive her underground.
She slowly started going through the gates. Those gates began with alcohol. By 17, she was smoking pot. She knocked on the gates of painkillers like Percocet and Loratab around 18. It didn't take long until daring and excitement led her to Oxycontin. Maybe her parents had a hint but were in denial. I'm not sure.
Tia was running with popular kids and kids with 'money.' These were the types of kids that one would think would not do these types of think but if you think about it, they were the only types of kids that had access to the kind of money that painkillers demand.
Tia dropped out of high school and moved out from her parents. Slowly, the only friends that she saw on a regular basis were those who did the same drugs as her. She started picking up other friends. These friends were lower class kids.
Tia knocked on the Gates of Heroin. Heroin opened and thus, the chains became locked. Tia started stealing and hustling. She was spotted walking 6th Avenue where hookers walk. She began dealing with others including Detroit drug dealers to get the drugs she couldn't afford otherwise.
Tia survived and has survived without working. Her mindset seems to be 'why bust your ass for $200 a week when she can hustle that up in a day?" Sadly, she did not seem to realize what she was doing. As people became weary of her hustling and her game, the money began to dry up. She resorted to ripping people off in bad drug deals and stealing from dealers. She also lived in an apartment that was rented in her name by Detroit drug dealers. Her family tried to help. They were still partially in denial and due to hard economic times were limited to how much they could help financially.
She was no longer doing things kids her age did. She was not going to college, or college football games, or even parties. Her day involved satisfying her master- Master Heroin. Master Heroin who dictates his orders through a needle and syringe.
She wrecked a couple cars and racked up 3 DUI's. She lost lifelong friends. She was just a slave. Her days occupied with actions to please her master. Wake up. Hustle. Do whatever she could to find the money to please Master Heroin.
The chains are tighter and tighter. The chains are dragging her heart down. She watches her old friends with envy has they marry, have kids, graduate college, and buy houses. She buys Heroin. She pleases Master Heroin. She is a slave.
She said she never thought she would get hooked. After all, no one says they want to be a drug addict when they grow up. No one dreams of being a junkie or a slave.
These drugs are so powerful that they overwhelm the young before they realize it. They go from wading to drowning in an instant. Tia is drowning but she is still alive. The chains of Heroin are pulling her down in shallow water.
Her parents are trying to help. She is not covered by insurance as she is 21 and does not work. She does not have a medical card. Her parents tried to get her in rehab. She is having seizures that are no doubt caused by the drug. She had four seizures in a day a few weeks ago. She was admitted to ICU but left when she got drug sick. Her parents tried to sign a mental health hygiene warrant on her but the judge refused.
She was willing to go to rehab but River Park was wanting $1800 a day. Most rehabs did not want her because of the seizures.
So she is still drowning. Someone gives her a fifty or so to keep her above water but that just makes the chains heavier. She has two main problems. One is getting the money to buy the drugs, the other problem is when she does get the money she just feeds the habit and the chains get heavier.
She's a slave those she does not wear chains. The chains are around her heart. They are not held by a lock but by a needle. The chains are the chains of Heroin addiction.
GOOD SAMARITAN LAW IS NEEDED
A true story: Eric disappeared on a very cold winter evening last year. His ex-girlfriend Amy became very concerned when she could not get a hold of him. She had talked to him earlier and knew he was partying with friends and was worried because he sounded messed up.
No one answered his cellphone. She contacted his friends and they said he went home. She called everywhere and no one had seen him. She called his friends back and insisted on knowing what really happened.
It was then she learned that Eric had overdosed on heroin. His friends panicked and left him lying in his car behind The Flats dormitory hotels on 4th Avenue in Huntington. Amy could not believe his lifelong friends would do him that way. The guys were shooting up heroin with Eric. They were so paranoid that they would be prosecuted if they called 911 that they were afraid that even an anonymous call would be traced. They were willing to let their friend die rather than to risk prosecution for being under the influence of drugs.
Amy called 911 and met the paramedics at the scene. Eric was near death as he was found with a hose still wrapped around his arm and a needle nearby.
People like Eric die every year because witnesses fear prosecution. Alexis tracked her sister Lynn down on 20th Street last year just in time to see her friend carrying Lynn's body out to her car. He was going to drive Lynn's car and abandon it in an alley with her body inside. Alexis tried to call 911 and Lynn's friend tried to grab her phone. He did not want the police at his house. Alexis was finally able to make the call and save her sister's life.
Overdose victims, just like heart attack victims, require immediate help. Quick action is necessary to save an overdose victim. Unfortunately, witnesses balk at calling or do not call at all because of fear of prosecution because they are under the influence of drugs.
West Virginia needs to pass a Good Samaritan Law that would keep callers from being prosecuted.
I have heard of situations where Huntington Police or the hospital do not badger witnesses, but as long as the witnesses think there is a chance they will be arrested, there is a good chance they will panic and not do the right thing.
West Virginia needs to join 14 other states and The District of Columbia in passing The Good Samaritan Law. The idea here is to put lives ahead of arrests.
THE REAL TRAGEDY OF DRUGS
Huntington fell farther behind in its' drug war this week. Another week, another shooting death by a Michigan gunman. The 27th Street shooting grabbed the news headlines this week but it was a silent story that was the most gut wrenching.
The real heartbreaking story did not appear on WSAZ. The Herald-Dispatch did not print the saddest bomb dropped in the local drug war.
Last weekend, the bodies of a mother and father were found in The west end of Huntington by the girl's father and their small children. They had overdosed on Heroin.
This story is not an urban myth. I verified the story. The names were Dale and Jessica Harless. The bodies are at the examiner’s office in Charleston.
The shootings will always find their way to the front page. The Huntington shootings in the past few years have primarily involved drug dealers and drug users. It is a nasty symptom of a city with a drug problem. So it may sound mean when I say those type of murders will happen and we should be glad that it is not innocent residents being robbed and killed for drug money; but deep inside, we know its true.
Drug users and drug dealers kill each other, that’s a fact that we've learned to live with. It is a risk of the lifestyle that we have accepted that comes with the territory. It's kind of like if you want to play, you've got to pay. If you are a drug dealer or user that wants to be a gangster or player, it is part of the risk.
But the children who lost their parents did not accept the risk. They were robbed anyway. They were robbed of being walked to class the first day of school with their parents; they were robbed of Christmas mornings opening presents while their parents snapped pictures; they were robbed of a father to play catch with and a mother to help with homework; they were robbed of a parent to walk them down the aisle or of a grandparent for their children. They were sentenced to a lifetime of not having the people that brought them into the world to hold their hand when they are sick or be proud of them in their accomplishments.
When the parents are buried, their hopes and dreams will be buried in the casket with them. That in itself is sad enough but the real tragedy is the children will carry with them forever the weekend that their parents selfishly gobbled up a lethal dose of drugs.
The sad part is that mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brother and sisters are dying all the time in Huntington. Those sad, tragic losses of love, hopes and dreams are not in the headlines.
So how or where does it all end? Where do we start the fight? It's like the old question which came first the chicken or the egg? Do we start with the supply or demand? Who gets the blame: the Huntington druggies who created the demand or the Detroit drug dealers who supply it.
The answer? Neither and both. Yes, the HPD will continue the admirable though frustrating job they are doing and I really do think they are doing a good job and they will go after both the supply and demand.
But the answer is also neither. We must look within ourselves. The drug user must realize they are hurting the ones they love and those that love them. Loved ones must look inside and realize the power of tough love.
The drug user must save themselves. Friends, families, and professionals can help but the user has to decide.
I am not a deeply religious man but I do feel we need help. We are all fighting the same drug war but we are fighting different enemies and with different methods. There is only one force that can bring it all together.
"Dear Father, please help remove from our streets the poison that makes orphans out of our children. Please remove the drugs that divide families. Please keep our loved ones from the drugs that causes such despair that they end their own lives. Please let no more children find the lifeless bodies of their parents that have been drained of life by drugs. Please let no more mothers have to look at their sons lying in casket because of drug violence. Please let no more mothers have to open their doors to see a trooper tell them their loved ones were lost at the hands of a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Please Father, please help us say yes to life. Amen".
CHAPTER 7 CLEANING UP THE STREETS OF MONEYTON
Shutting down the drug trafficking and cleaning up the streets of Moneyton would involve stopping either the supply or demand; or both.
Several possible laws are making their way to legislation that would target the supply. There are also possible laws being designed that could attack demand by providing treatment for addicts.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey aims to cut in half how much pseudoephedrine someone can buy annually in West Virginia, from 48 to 24 grams. The ingredient in some cold medicines is used to manufacture meth.
Morrisey’s ideas include legislation that would also criminalize smurfing, a practice through which carloads of people buy the legal limit of pseudoephedrine at drug stores.
It would create a registry to track meth crime offenders, and cut off their access to meth-cooking items such as pseudoephedrine.
The attorney general also pointed out the massive amounts of prescription drugs that go unused. He plans to provide 40 or 50 statewide drop boxes to dispose of those medications.
He also wants to create a Good Samaritan exception, where drug users who seek help themselves or survive overdoses would be immune from criminal charges.
Morrisey is also targeting loopholes that allow synthetic drug producers to tweak their formulas to get around current state law.
Morrisey has plans to create a substance abuse task force, and plans to partner with surrounding states including Ohio and Kentucky to prevent movement of prescription drugs.
Del. Don Perdue, D-Wayne, said he plans to propose a bill that would require a prescription for pseudoephedrine, which is a precursor for meth and is an ingredient in many over-the-counter congestion and allergy medications.
Narcan is a brand name of the drug called Naloxone, which is known as the “Heroin Overdose Antidote” because it reverses the effects of opiates. During a heroin overdose, opioids block too many receptors in the brain, which makes the person stop breathing. When the Naloxone goes in, it takes the place of the opioids so the person can breathe normally.
In order to help reduce overdose deaths, EMS should train police officers to administer Narcan that offsets the effects of the drug, an effort that should reduce the number of heroin-related deaths and other long term health consequences.
We need to have absolute leadership in the war against drugs. In Huntington, we need for Mayor Steve Williams to raise awareness that we are indeed fighting a war on drugs. Instead of trying to paint a rosy picture so that it looks like he is doing a wonderful job as Mayor, he needs to try to raise awareness that we may be in the midst of an epidemic drug problem. By helping to win the war on drugs in Huntington, the mayor can become a true hero.
Mr. Williams needs to work with our local media. The Herald-Dispatch should devote a Sunday edition to telling the truth about how drugs have impacted the area. The Herald-Dispatch should interview drug addicts that lost their jobs, families, and homes because of their drug use. The paper could feature stories on parents that have lost children and talk about how drugs has destroyed their families.
Reporters could talk to counselors and offer suggestions on how to live with and help loved ones who are addicted. The paper could talk about repeat offenders and how they are bogging down the judicial system. They can talk about how drug use is leading to an increase in crime such as robbery and breaking and enterings. They can discuss how are tax dollars are paying for the overcrowding of jails and prisons.
By declaring war on drugs, our area would be raising awareness on the fact we do have a problem. With Mayor Williams has a leader, we could have a plan. Local government officials and local celebrities could give speeches in our schools and to other groups about the dangers of drug use and how to detect drug problems and what we must to do to defeat the problem.
Mayor Williams should bring together other community leaders for a summit on drug abuse. He should encourage all churches to ban together against the drug problem. The churches can spread awareness about the problem but also help detect where problems are. With extra eyes focusing on the problem, there will be more tips made to the police. Plus, drug dealers will be afraid if they know that everyone is aware of the drug problem and that people are watching them and calling the police and drug tip lines. If the public simply refuses to allow dealers to operate by notifying the police when they are aware of a drug house, then dealers and their customers are going to find themselves on the run.
I'm sure that local authorities work with officials from Detroit and other times about the heroin pipeline that runs from Detroit into our area. There should be even more cooperation with these officials and the word should be spread about how law enforcement is watching these areas. Maybe if drug dealers are aware that authorities are monitoring their actions, maybe it will deter plans to try to move drugs into our area.
The Huntington Police Department is doing a fine job in combating drugs. They need more help. The judicial system can help reduce the amount of repeat offenders by reducing the plea bargaining the courts do. Too many drug offenders are plea bargaining and getting back on the streets to deal or take more drugs. It is like catch and release. The offenders are caught but they slide through the cracks in the judicial system and return to breaking the law.
The bottom line is that the mayor needs to unite us and lead us against drugs. Drug abuse causes many problems like broken families, increase in robberies and other crime, loss of life, high school dropout, increase in violent crimes and shootings, and prison and jail overcrowding. If the city pulls together and makes eliminating drugs a priority, we can make a difference. This is your Huntington, this is my Huntington, this is our Huntington…let’s take it back from the drug dealers.
"Appalachian Dawn" was a documentary made about Manchester, Ky. A few years ago the community was drowning in drugs. The town, led by the religious community, came together and basically drove the dealers out.
Druggies cleaned up because they knew their neighbors were no longer going to tolerate. After a few dealers were busted, most of the other dealers scrambled to get out of town.
By pulling together, Huntington can change the culture. Those who will not change will get reported. This can lower the demand for drugs. Once users see they will be shunned or reported then they will realize they have to change.
This has to be an across the board effort. Schools, churches, and parents will have to speak to children about drugs and explain why they are sociably unacceptable.
Together, the community can change the "snitches get stitches mentality" that plagues our youth. We can adapt a "be drug free or be gone" attitude.
If the streets of Moneyton are cleaned up, there are going to be a lot of sick people in Huntington. If the cleanup is done by taking away the supply of drugs, then addicts will not have any choice than to seek treatment. If it is done at once, then the supply of the treatment will not be able to keep up with the demand. Hopefully, the cleanup will come as a result of taking away the demand for drugs.
If the demand for drugs is taken away, then, that will happen over a period of time and will result in the changing of the overall culture and by addicts deciding that they no longer wish to be addicts. The only way to take away the demand for drugs is to change the environment in Huntington and to treat as many addicts as possible.
The first step an addict must take in treatment is to acknowledge there is an addiction problem. If Huntington can increase the awareness of a problem and make the addicts realize what is happening with their lives, then the environment will begin to change. The addict will realize that he must seek treatment to better his life.
The key for Huntington to change this environment, as was mentioned earlier, is to apply pressure from each sides. It must come from friends, family, peers, co-workers, and religious groups. The addict must see that society is not going to accept his sickness anymore and his only real option is to seek help with his addiction.
The addict will then seek help from available services and centers in Huntington. There are several options in Huntington and we will discuss those soon.
There are several treatment options for those who seek help with addiction. Typically, treatment includes a combination of inpatient and outpatient programs, counseling (psychotherapy), self-help groups, pairing with individual sponsors, and medication.
While treatment can take place in a treatment center or as an outpatient, being kept in a center is more likely to succeed. The keys to the inpatient treatment succeeding are due to not being able to get drugs and by getting the patient out of the environment that led him to drugs in the first place. Of course, when the patient is released, they will have to change their environment completing which could mean isolating themselves from family and by replacing their friends. It will be easier to do this once they get stronger, that's why it is a good idea to be an inpatient and to get strong before having friends and family bring their drug problems around the patient.
Psychotherapy involves counseling in either family sessions or one-on-one with a specialist. Most facilities in Huntington provide doctors and a team of counselors and therapists. In the mental health hospital in Huntington that I work at, recovery is a team effort. There are counselors who one on one with the patient, plus there are even recreational therapists who create other alternatives for patients to deal with stress. Patients are taught how to change their environment and replace the need for drugs with healthy alternatives for dealing with stress like exercise, physical activities, and art and writing.
Some places also provide social workers that can help with other problems so the patient can focus on overcoming their addiction. The patient may also receive counseling on how to further their education in ways to change their environment and have a brighter future.
Help also comes from self-help groups. These can be done in conjunction with an inpatient program, when a patient is released, or as an outpatient. These groups these may help the patient meet other people with the same problem, which often boosts motivation. Self-help groups can be a useful source of education and information too. Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
The programs also help the addict deal with withdraw symptoms. The goal is to get the drug out of the patient’s body as soon as possible and get the patient away from the addiction. Sometimes the addict is given gradually reduced dosages (tapering). In some cases a substitute substance is given. Withdrawals can be very powerful and if a patient is on their own, it is easier to cave. By being an inpatient, they will have more support to get through plus the drugs simply will not be available to them. Plus, if they are at the treatment center, it will be easier for the staff to help find alternative ways to deal with the withdrawals.
According to The National Institute of Drug Abuse:
"Drug addiction is a complex illness characterized by intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug craving, along with compulsive drug seeking and use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences. While the path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs, over time a person's ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised, and seeking and consuming the drug becomes compulsive. This behavior results largely from the effects of prolonged drug exposure on brain functioning. Addiction is a brain disease that affects multiple brain circuits, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behavior.
Because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual's life, treatment is not simple. Effective treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences. Addiction treatment must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Because addiction is typically a chronic disease, people cannot simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients require long-term or repeated episodes of care to achieve the ultimate goal of sustained abstinence and recovery of their lives."
Heroin is the most dominant drug in Huntington and maybe the hardest to withdrawal from. The cravings for more heroin can be overwhelming and so can the symptoms. The addict can be inflicted by cold chills and sweats, vomiting, fever, crying, nausea, and cramps.
Addicts start to withdraw from heroin minutes to hours after they miss the next expected dose. Because heroin is highly addictive, the patient's body can become dependent on heroin within a couple of weeks of daily use. So when they decide to stop taking heroin all together, they will feel symptoms of heroin withdrawal shortly after it has worn off in the body. If you have also developed a high tolerance to heroin, the initial high will not last as long in the body and if they are not always increasing heroin dosage, they will feel the effects of withdrawal shortly after the drug’s effects wear off.
According to drug.addictionblog.org:
"The length of time it takes to withdraw from heroin from varies by person. Every user is different and will go through withdrawal in their own time. But in general, heroin withdrawal peaks about 42 – 72 hours after last dose and can last with extreme severity for up to a week. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal will begin to even out in a few weeks.
Heroin alters and damages opiate receptors in the brain to the extent that many people who come off heroin have a difficult time feeling pleasure. So, you may continue to have pain and discomfort, disruptions in sleep, depression, and/or anxiety for several weeks afterward. Problems regulating mood may also last a long time and affect one’s ability to address addiction or to completely withdraw. The body also takes a long time to heal and it may be several months, possibly years before your body repairs itself fully. Protracted withdrawal syndrome is especially present during heroin addiction treatment."
The National Institute of Drug Abuse offers these principles:
- "Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
- No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.
- Treatment needs to be readily available.
- Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.
- Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.
- Counseling—individual and/or group—and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
- Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
- An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
- Many drug–addicted individuals also have other mental disorders.
- Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long–term drug abuse.
- Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
- Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.
- Treatment programs should assess patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as provide targeted risk–reduction counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them at risk of contracting or spreading infectious diseases."
By changing the current drug culture into a drug free environment we can kill the demand. If the money is no longer there to fuel the demand, then the supply will die. In other words, the drug dealers will go somewhere else.
Then, the top priority will become treatment. We will have to focus on treating those with substance abuse problems which will mean funding for new treatment centers and programs to get addicts into existing centers.
The Healing Place provides a long-term residential program as they help addicts recover from alcohol and drug abuse. They employ a 12 step recovery philosophy in an effort to get addicts to change their thinking, their behavior, and their hearts. The Healing Place is cost effective and relies on charities and grants to keep the cost down for their clients. The cost can be as low as $25 a day.
A good friend of mine told me how Karen's Place helped changed her loved one's life. Karen's Place is a drug treatment center for women that overlooks beautiful Yatesville Lake in Yatesville, Ky. Karen's place uses a faith-based program that has spirituality at the core and employs a 12 step recovery type program.
Prestera offers many programs that can help addicts recover and also offers ways to fund them.
The Huntington Treatment Center is at 135 Fourth Avenue, and the Ultimate Treatment Center is located at 2154 Carter Avenue, Ashland, Ky. (http://www.methadone.us/huntington-methadone-clinics)
The Huntington Treatment Center offer the controversial treatments of methadone and suboxone. Detractors say the program substitutes one drug for another. Many feel that people get equally addicted to the replacement drugs and are just traded addictions.
Methadone and suboxone do help ween addicts off of heroin and painkillers. Then, the center helps ween their clients off of methadone and suboxone. The clinics also feature counselors who monitor and advise their clients recovery. Many clients feel that the center helped change their lives for the better. (more on this place owned by CRC later in the chapter)
The Lifehouse was founded by Rocky Meadows. For years, Rocky fought drug addiction. After a period of incarceration he found Jesus Christ. Rocky fought back from drug addiction and changed his life. He now helps other men who have had their lives ripped apart by addiction and crime.
Mr. or Ms. Addict, there is a road to recovery waiting for you. It is a tough road but it has people who will help you make your journey to recovery. You have to take the first steps alone. All of the counseling in the world will not help until you are ready. Look around you, Mr. or Ms. Drug Addict. It is time. You are surrounded by darkness. Get on the road to recovery. Get your life back.
If you are suicidal Prestera will help you find the help you need. They can help place you in a mental health facility around Huntington. In places like River Park Hospital you can also find the help you need in kicking drugs.
If you have a loved one that you feel is in trouble or is suicidal, contact Prestera on how to file a mental hygiene warrant. The life you save may be the one of your loved one.
Mental health and drug addiction are serious issues that destroy lives. Please seek help in getting your life back. You owe it to yourself and loved ones to live your life to the fullest.
PATHWAYS - Ashland, Ky http://www.pathways-ky.org/
Pathways provides professional and effective services for the prevention, intervention and treatment of alcohol and other drug abuse problems:
- A detoxification unit for individuals with-drawing from substances
- Outpatient and intensive outpatient clinical services (individual and group therapy)
- Inpatient residential services for male adolescent substance abusers
- Assessment, education and treatment programs for driving under the influence (DUI) offenders
- Strong family programs and recovery support services
- Specialized services for chemically-dependent victims of domestic violence
- Dual disorders services for people with severe mental illness and substance abuse diagnosis
- Victim advocacy services to provide crisis intervention, hospital and court advocacy, educational programs and training for victims of rape and sexual abuse
Another part of the problem in Moneyton appears to be part of the solution. Suboxone and methadone, which are supposed to ween users off of opiates, are sold on the streets of Moneyton.
The drugs are extremely controversial and while it may be a savior to some it can be a killer to others. Many lives have been drastically altered as the drugs have allowed addicts to eventually kick the habit and live drug-free. But, it seems that while there are many that praise the drug, there are many that abuse the drug.
It seems that one of the places that is having problems with the drugs is Moneyton. The local clinic which dispenses methadone in Huntington is owned by CRC. According to many reports, liquid methadone, used for decades to help addicts fight withdrawal symptoms as they quit heroin or other opiates, is leaking into the streets of Moneyton through take-home doses.
Allegedly, the company is so concerned with profits that they have a higher census than what they should have which creates under-staffed. While this may help CRC increase it profits, it also raises the chances that methadone will illegally be sold on the streets of Moneyton.
According to the article "Drug Users Turn Death Dealers as Methadone From Bain Hits Street " by Syndney P. Freedberg from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-08/drug-users-turn-death-dealers-as-methadone-from-bain-hits-street.html on February 8, 2013:
"CRC didn’t pay well enough to attract or keep experienced counselors, said Malaysia Williams, who worked at its clinic in Huntington, West Virginia, from June 2009 through March 2010. “Nobody stayed there,” she said. “It paid poorly.”
Williams got $13 an hour, she said -- about the same amount other former counselors reported. That’s roughly $27,000 a year.
High turnover meant large caseloads, Williams said. Her initial caseload was 120, she said; about a quarter of those files were in disarray. Patients’ positive drug screens -- which are supposed to result in their losing take-home privileges -- fell through the cracks for some counselors as they struggled to keep pace, she said.
“When you have that much of a backlog it’s impossible to be on top of all the stuff,” she said.
As Williams struggled to catch up in Huntington, the clinic pushed its revenue up almost 8 percent to $5 million in 2010 -- while expenses increased less than 1 percent to $2.6 million, according to state regulatory documents. That January, inspectors found that eight patients in a random sample of 13 hadn’t received the counseling they were supposed to. The company agreed to hire four full-time counselors and a supervisor, records show.
Inspectors reviewed six patients’ charts and found that three hadn’t met with a doctor in more than a year, according to the inspection report -- though annual medical screenings are required. Clinic managers pledged to add hours for a doctor and a physician’s assistant, according to the report.
A November 2010 inspection found that nine out of 10 patients hadn’t met with a doctor in more than a year. In March 2011, 16 out of 25 hadn’t. In September 2011, two out of five new patients hadn’t met with a doctor or physician’s assistant weekly, as required, based on the state’s review of clinic records.
CRC officials didn’t respond to questions about the Huntington clinic."
While some may take the drug the way it is supposed and find some success, it seems like a great amount is taken from the clinic and sold on the streets. In fact, I observed some being sold on the back part of the parking lot when I went down to the clinic to observe the clinic for myself.
The parking lot of the clinic has almost a carnival-type atmosphere. Many pile onto the lot early and some even camp out to be first in line to get their dose when the doors open around 5am. In fact, I even seen small children in pajamas in the backs of a couple of cars as the users made getting their daily dosage a family outing.
The parking lot stays chaotic for most of the morning as the users scurry back and forth to their cars and several arrive in taxi-cabs.
Terry Burton, a user from Huntington, said, "Methadone gets me extremely high. I think it’s stronger than oxies (Oxycontin),” he said. “With pot, you get a little bit of a head buzz. With methadone, it kind of fires up my whole body. I get a warm glow, a sense of well-being.”
Suboxone and Methadone have become popular in Huntington. When addicts go without heroin or Oxycontins the withdrawal pains start setting in. If the drugs are not available they will look for alternative ways to calm the cravings. If Suboxone or Methadone is available it will give the drug addicts temporary relief until they can find their drug of choice.
Often times, druggies will use their insurance to buy Suboxone and then sell the drug on the streets in order to buy other drugs.
In an article called "Suboxone: The New Drug Epidemic?" written by Pat Anson on September 23, 2013 http://americannewsreport.com/nationalpainreport/suboxone-new-drug-epidemic-8821747.html
“Suboxone is a fantastic detox agent. But you have to use it with great caution as a long term maintenance medication. In my clinic we use a lot of Suboxone, but only for detox,” says Menzies, who is president of Assisted Recovery Centers of America, which operates four addiction treatment centers in the St. Louis, Missouri area.
The problem with Suboxone, according to says Percy Menzies, a pharmacist and addiction expert, is that many addicts have learned they can use the medication, not to treat their addiction, but to maintain it. Suboxone won’t get them “high” but it will help them smooth out withdrawal symptoms between highs.
“For a drug addict, the most uncomfortable, painful problem of their addiction is withdrawal. If I can somehow control my withdrawal, then I have complete freedom to use heroin,” Menzies told National Pain Report.
“It’s a perfect formula for drug addiction. They have very little interest in getting off the drug. Suboxone, in my estimation, has allowed a very significant number of people to maintain their addiction.”
Menzies asserts that Suboxone has become a street drug:
"We joke that there’s more Suboxone on the street than in pharmacies. Most of the heroin dealers are diversified now. They offer you a choice of Suboxone and heroin. And now with all these generic forms coming out, that is going to explode,” says Menzies."
Suboxone and methadone can be deadly if mixed with Xanax, herion, cocaine, or alcohol. The mixture of drugs can depress breathing and even cause death.
There are many success stories with the drug but Suboxone and Methadone can be hard to come off of as well so often a person can be switching one addiction for another.
The article "Fighting Addiction With A Pill Has Potential For Abuse, Officials Say" by Russ Zimmer in the 1/12/14 edition of The Lancaster Eagle Gazette, makes the point:
"The reason Suboxone works is because it gives the addict just a little bit of what their body tells them they need. In other words, it gets them high. That creates the potential for misuse, especially when it’s provided by prescription to a population that has a demonstrated history of drug abuse."
I do not know everything about drugs but am trying to learn. I do know if we choose to ignore them, like I did most of my life, they will not go away. They will eat at everything in our lives until they get to us in some form.
They will get to us through others if necessary. If not through our loved ones, then they will get us through crime. Drugs are here. Moneyton is real. It will be until we rise up and make our stand. Until we proudly proclaim that this isn’t Moneyton, it is Huntington. This is our town, our home.
We must stand together. We must clean up the streets of Moneyton. This is our town!
Drug Users Turn Death Dealers as Methadone From Bain Hits Street - Bloomberg. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-08/drug-users-turn-death-dealers-as-methadone-from-bain-hits-street.html
Hedges, C., & Sacco, J. (2012). Days of destruction, days of revolt. New York: Nation Books.
Home - The Healing Place of Huntington - Where Hope is Found. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://thehealingplaceofhuntington.org/
Huntington Methadone Clinics | Huntington Methadone Treatment | Methadone.US. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.methadone.us/huntington-methadone-clinics
Huntington Police Make $80,000 Heroin Bust in West End. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.wsaz.com/news/huntingtonnews/headlines/Huntington-Police-Make-80000-Heroin-Bust-in-West-End-238295831.html
Karen's Place - Residential Women's Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.karensplace.com/index.htm
The Lifehouse - Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thelifehousewv.com
Malloy, D. (n.d.). Heroin Problem a Growing Concern. Herald-Dispatch [Huntington].
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/
Oxycontin : a media-made drug scare. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://opioids.com/oxycodone/oxycon.html
Paralyzed Hoops Star Facing Prison. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1998/Paralyzed-Hoops-Star-Facing-Prison/id-6b6b18e7d457776513a4e896665596c7
Pathways Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pathways-ky.org/
Pierson, L. (2013, December 17). Man on Home Conefinement Charged with Drug Possession. Herald-Dispatch [Huntington].
Police Blame Crime on Heroin Addiction. (2013, September 1). Herald-Dispatch [Huntington].
Prestera Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.prestera.org
Simonich, M. (2006, March 16). Detroit Dealers Invade West Virginian Towns. Pittsburgh Post-Gazatte [Pittsburgh].
Suboxone: The New Drug Epidemic? - National Pain Report - National Pain Report. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://americannewsreport.com/nationalpainreport/suboxone-new-drug-epidemic-8821747.html
Tyrone Phillips, CEO - Autism Management Group, LLC. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.autismmanagementgroup.org/tyrone-phillips-ceo.html
Williams, D. (2011). Money Town. Ashland, Ky: 9 Lives Records
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