Teri Boggs never thought her family would fall prey to the "heroin addition trap" or that some of her son's activities would become local crime statistics.
"We're the average American family,'' she said. "We work, go to church. I was one of those people who thought it couldn't happen, not in my family, not to my kids."
But the Newton Falls woman, who asked that her son's name not be published, said that for the past several years, her family has been living a nightmare that she believes started when her son, now 20, took his first marijuana hit in his early teens.
"It's a vicious cycle and once you're in it, it's so hard to get out, to break free," she said.
Lauren Thorp, project director with the Alliance for Substance Abuse Opiate Task Force Trumbull County, said that the toll addiction has on families can be devastating - physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. She stressed that not only is it important for individuals suffering with substance abuse to seek counseling, it's also a vital step for their family members.
"So often we look at the addict, and we think they are the ones who need the help,'' she said. "That's true. But it's also true that families need support to get through it as well.''
Community Solutions Association of Warren
Glenbeigh - ACMC Healthcare System
Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic
New Start Treatment Center for Chemical Dependency
Meridian Services LLC
Boggs' son progressed to opiates such as OxyContin and Opana. She said she believes he moved on to heroin because it was cheap and accessible. As his habit worsened, so did his need for money to support it. He started stealing, a crime that landed him a four-year prison sentence.
"He did things to get money," Boggs said. "Breaking into houses. Heroin's called the poor man's drug. When you don't have money for pills, you go to heroin. Sadly, it has a high price.''
Boggs said if she had seen the signs soon enough, she might have been able to intervene before his problems escalated.
"Even after he started doing the drugs nothing really seemed to change,'' she said. ''He still went to school, he got good grades, was active in sports. He was still always so respectful.''
Things started falling apart, and Boggs started seeing the signs. A few days after he turned 18, he told his parents he thought he had a drug problem. Despite his addiction, Boggs' son, who is preparing to apply for judicial release, graduated from high school.
Still, Boggs said that for two years she spent much of her time ''dragging'' him out of drug houses, seeking treatment for him, praying and trying to help him get better. She said that dealing with the stress of of her son's addiction was compounded when it crossed into the legal realm.
"It tears your whole family up," she said. "For two years my husband lost his wife. My daughter lost her mother. My thoughts, my attention, it was all so consuming. It just grips you."
Boggs said she is grateful that counseling was available, and that she realized how important it is to recovery.
Thorp said that as drug abuse increases, so does the need for counseling. She said that at the top of the offender's list is heroin because it is so enticing and so addicting.
She said that treatment is becoming increasingly difficult due to a combination of state funding cutbacks and the fact that treatment programs that require overnight stays are outside of Trumbull County.
"But we have to try," she said.