GREENVILLE — A Heroin Awareness Informational Session took place at the First Heavy Metal Church of Christ (FHMCC) April 1, in Greenville.
The event included the following speakers: Recovering addict John Pettitt; Darke County Office of the Coroner Chief Medicolegal Death Investigator Joe Van Vickle; Counselor Tisha Sheperd of Recovery & Wellness Centers Of Mid-west Ohio; Director of Hope in Recovery Jeff Feitshans and event organizer Samantha Wolfe.
Wolfe, of Sidney, was moved to start the Heroin Awareness sessions after losing people she loved to the drug.
“I decided I was done letting this drug take the people I care about, and that is exactly what it has done,” she said. “I got with my church, FHMCC, and I asked, ‘What can I do’?”
The audience was comprised of recovering addicts, parents of recovering addicts, parents who have lost children to drug overdose, some Greenville City Council members and other concerned citizens. A question and answer session followed the speakers’ presentations. Some discussions occurred about funding better programs, law enforcement and judicial guidelines.
One guest asked, “Where do we start to get our community back,? We all have a story as to why we are here today. When are we going to take a stand and get our community back, where do we start?”
Feitshans said that is a good question.
“I am not going to pretend I have the answer,” he said. “I like what you are saying. Action is something we have to do. When I look back in 1960s/70s, our culture started taking a huge shift from deeply embedded moral values that we believe there was an authority above and beyond us. We used to have that kind of feeling about beyond our physical reality and it did keep us in check. We have lost that as a community, as a society as a nation. Everyone is doing what they want to do, what they think is right, almost like a form of anarchy. Our whole culture has been embedded on this idea, you are an individual and should be able to do whatever you want without hurting someone else. The problem is we do hurt others. Where do we start? We have to change the way we think.”
Another guest responded, “We need to speak out in the places where it needs to be put out. We can talk as much as we want, but until action becomes action they are just words.”
FHMCC Pastor Mike Fisher warned against rash and damaging reactions to the problem.
“We can say, ‘Shoot your local heroin dealer’,” he said. “Are we really going to commit murder? Are you going to exchange your life for someone else? It’s not going to happen, that is big talk. I understand we are frustrated by it. I got involved in someone’s life. He died and I am sad. I loved him. He was my friend. You have to set your own thoughts about this aside. If you want to change what is going on here, you have to get involved in someone’s life. You have to change the way you think about the addiction.
A resident said the addiction problem makes her feel like there is a fire and someone hid the bucket of water.
“I lost a son 20 years ago and I am here. I care. I would love to see a change. The frustration is laying in bed at night, trying to solve the world’s problems. If you apply logic and wisdom to things sometimes you get an answer. We have to do this without money. What can we do? Within each one of us, God gives us the ability to do something. The fact we are here as a group is powerful. All I can do is pray. When you lose a child, when you critique pain, that is the most pitiful place you will ever visit, you almost can’t breathe. I call it being in the valley. I hate to be there. But, when you go in the valley, you come out gaining strength. We all feel pain and it motivates us. If someone says, ‘All I can do is pray’, well that is a lot. When a bunch of people praying for an issue, that should get attention.”
EDS NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series titled “Fatal Addiction” that will address the drug problem and effects on residents and resources in Darke County.