By EILEEN MCCLORY
Teri Roof went to rehab for the first time during her senior year of high school.
It didn’t work. She smoked marijuana during her entire stay in rehab, but got away with it because she wasn’t drug-tested.
The day after she completed rehab, she was shooting heroin in a friend’s bathroom.
Roof told her story Thursday night to a crowd of people at CedarCreek Church in Findlay during a program on heroin and other opiates hosted by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
Roof, who is from Wood County, told the crowd that she later became addicted to suboxone, which is used to treat opioid addiction. She had two sons, lost several jobs, stole money from her sister and was charged with a felony, lost custody of her kids to her mother, and overdosed on heroin before she finally got clean.
“I’ve had a job for over a year,” she said of her life now. “I actually get to be a mom today. My mom trusts me to take care of my kids.”
She’s been in recovery for almost 20 months now, she told the crowd, to applause and a standing ovation.
Her success story contrasted with other reports Thursday about a worsening local drug epidemic.
A panel including Judge Mark Miller of Findlay Municipal Court, Judge Jonathan Starn of Hancock County Common Pleas Court, Hancock County Prosecutor Phil Riegle, and Shawn Carpenter, a probation officer at Hancock County Juvenile Court, talked about the opiate-related problems they are seeing.
Several of the panelists expressed concern about the damage to children whose parents are addicted to opiates.
“I’m worried about our kids,” Miller said. “I’m worried when an elementary school kid is calling 911 and what we’re doing to them.”
Riegle talked about the rising crime rate that is tied to drugs. Theft and weapon charges have both risen in the past few years as the opiate crisis worsens, he said.
Hancock County’s recent rash of homicides — seven in two years — also may have a connection to the opiate crisis, Riegle said. “Those are all consequences from this epidemic,” he said.
Riegle and Miller also discussed new problems they are seeing: marijuana laced with cocaine, and cocaine laced with fentanyl. Worst of all, there are cocktail drugs: mixes of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine, occasionally with carfentanil thrown in.
“That’s, in a lot of cases unfortunately, a deadly cocktail,” Riegle said.
Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller, said to be 100 times stronger than morphine. Carfentanil is a derivative of fentanyl, and even more potent.
Miller said he has spoken to younger people in his court who are charged with marijuana possession about possibly having marijuana laced with fentanyl.
Starn said he did believe the crisis would get better, but he said it is getting worse. “When the charge is possession of carfentanil, because they thought they bought fentanyl, it is not getting better,” Starn said.
But Starn said Hancock County has a lot of resources to fight the epidemic, considering the size of the community.
“You don’t have to go far out of Hancock County to see communities with the same or worse problems and fewer resources,” he said.