YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs, and one of the hardest to recover from.
Targeting receptors in a person’s brain, it gets the user addicted until it’s all they can think about. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin use has increased in the United States across all ages and all income levels. And it’s more than doubled in the last decade.
It has claimed the lives of at least 18 people per week in Ohio.
Commander Jeff Solic of the Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force says heroin is incredibly dangerous.
“It’s a very gripping drug, so once you use it, you’re hooked,” Solic said.
Ashley Bryner, 28, lives in Newton Falls and is the mother of two young boys. She’s also a recovering drug addict.
“By 13 I was socially using, almost on a regular basis. By 16 cocaine, 18 to 20 I was pretty hooked on pain killers. And by 24 or 25 I was on heroin,” Bryner said.
In all her time using the drug, Bryner was never arrested. She got drugs from friends, or friends of friends.
“For me it made me happy, it made me carefree, it made me fearless,” Bryner said.
At some points, she was using more than $100 worth of drugs in a single day.
“I think my whole family knew, but they weren’t sure. They knew something was going on. I was dropping weight. Very agitated all the time. Would do any and everything to avoid them at all costs, unless I needed something,” Bryner said.
Then in 2012, after more than a decade of drug use, she decided to get help. She asked her mother to pick up her two sons and checked herself into the Trumbull Memorial Hospital.
“While I was in addiction, I was living in hell and I didn’t think anything could break me away from that,” Bryner said.
Kelly Congdon is the director at the Discovery House Treatment Center in Farrell, where she has worked for 15 years.
She says she knows that every time someone walks through the door, they are at their lowest point.
“We see people that are defeated, that are crying, that are depressed. People are at a loss. They don’t know where to go. They don’t know who to turn to,” Congdon said.
For 18 months, Bryner worked to recover. The process took her from rehab to different recovery assistance homes that let her sons live with her.
“I mean I literally had to re-learn how to walk, talk, shower, everything, without dope. So it was like being born all over again,” Bryner said.
She leaves a message to people struggling with drug addiction.
“If you’re thinking about getting clean, just do it,” Bryner said.
She is now a Primary Parent Partner with Trumbull County Children Services. So, she is now the person she would have needed when she was going through recovery.
Bryner also received the Public Children’s Service Family of the Year award. She said she never thought she’d be recognized for doing something good.