WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Heroin-related overdose deaths have more than quadrupled in the United States since 2010. Nearly 13,000 people died in 2015. It’s a problem that has a stronghold here in the Valley.
Dominic Mararri is described by his friends as a blessing and an inspiration — someone who always has a positive message to share. He’s hoping that positive message could help someone else who’s fighting an addiction.
Dominic typically starts his day with personal reflection and a workout.
“I spend time in the morning, just listening to encouraging music, praying.”
He then heads to the Warren Family Mission, where he’s the director of public relations.
“I never know what’s going to take place on my day. I might get a phone call where a generous business wants to donate $12,000, or I might get a call from a family member about a loved one who is struggling with addiction.”
Dominic is also a member of the Rotary Club and a realtor.
“From June until January, I sold $1.8 million in real estate.”
Five years ago, his life looked very different.
“I didn’t even want to get out of bed unless I had drugs to get out of bed to. And as soon as I rolled out of bed and my feet hit the ground, I was dashing to where my drug stash was.”
He was homeless and addicted to crack and heroin.
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“My whole way of thinking was centered on this little powder that…had such control and authority on my life.”
Dominic started smoking marijuana at 13, but it escalated over the years. By his late 20s, he had been arrested more than a dozen times.
“I would go through these programs that were 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and I might get six months clean.”
In 2012, he was facing two to eight years in prison. That’s when he decided to attend a year-long rehab program in Michigan called Adult and Teen Challenge. It’s a Christian drug and alcohol recovery program.
“They told me when to get up. They told me when to shower.”
He graduated and decided to move back home.
Now, Dominic’s work at the Mission puts him in direct contact with others who are on the same path he was two years ago. He’s made it his mission to tell his story now that he’s in a position to help.
“It helps me see the realities of it all — that I am one poor choice away from being in the shoes I was in once ago. I think it’s a blessing, not only for them but for myself.”
There’s also an Adult and Teen Challenge program in Youngstown.
“It’s a complete life change,” Brant Bolen said. “It’s not just about being sober. If we are just looking at sobriety, we are selling men short. It’s about being good quality people again.”
“From being a hopeless dope addicted to heroin and crack to being a dopeless hope addict addicted to Jesus has just made the difference in my life,” Dominic said.
Brant is also a graduate of the program and, just like Dominic, is helping other people fight their addictions.
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Dominic also works closely with the men’s program at the Warren Family Mission to help others fight their addiction.
Because of Dominic and his story, Zachary Starkey is now on his way to recovery through the Mission.
“A friend of mine knew Dominic, and she called me up and said she knew I had fallen on hard times and that she knew somebody,” Zachary said.
“If they are willing, this is a long-term one-year commitment,” said Brad Moore, director of men’s services at the Warren Family Mission. “We do Christ-centered studies and celebrate recovery.”
Dominic also still works with the Adult and Teen Challenge program that he attended in Michigan. He chose that program to get away from the negativity in his life, and realizes others may need that as well.
“Sometimes it’s best that they get out of the area because when they get faced in a position that might get tough for them, it’s easy to walk right out of the door,” Dominic said.
Through their Rides 4 Recovery program, the Mission provides rides to detox facilities in and out of state.