It didn’t take long for heroin addiction to creep up on 18-year-old Logan Bowman.
After an injury forced him to undergo surgery and be prescribed oxycodone, the 2017 Wellington High School graduate began to abuse the medication within six months.
He tried heroin for the first time within the year, describing the experience as similar to oxycodone — just more intense and longer lasting.
“More than just getting high, heroin changes your mindset,” Bowman said. “People who do heroin typically run out of money, so they do really sketchy things. It can lead to robbing people and (hurting) your family and people you care about.”
Drug use contributed to Bowman missing most school days during his senior year but online classes helped him narrowly hang on to the chance to walk with his class at graduation.
However, the joy of commencement quickly faded when he overdosed in July.
“My family was shocked,” said Bowman. “My mom, dad, and grandparents couldn’t believe it was heroin. They could kind of just tell in my change of attitude and how distant I was. When I was home I was just an ass. I was withdrawn and wanting to be high.”
That event prompted family members to force him into treatment through the Wellington police department’s LINC program, which stands for Local Initiative Networking Compassion.
Through LINC, people struggling with addiction can walk into the Wellington police station, ask for help, and be connected with recovery advocates.
Since its inception last year, 43 individuals have been placed in treatment all over the country through LINC.
Bowman ended up in Pompano Beach, Fla.
“I didn’t want to go,” he said. “I was against the cops because of the people I was hanging out with. During the first few weeks of treatment I didn’t even really want to participate. Once I realized I was on the other side of the country and couldn’t just walk or Uber home, I accepted it. Taking that first step is hard. You have to hit rock bottom. No one is going to go to the police for you until you overdose or something else bad happens.”
At a drug turn-in day event at town hall, Bowman said he’s now been clean for more than three months as of the end of October.
Nicole Walmsley, a former heroin addict now working as Ohio’s advocate in the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, or PARRI, helped Bowman move forward on his path to sobriety.
She has played a part in placing more than 500 addicts in treatment across the state.
“I’m so proud of you,” she told Bowman as they embraced. “It’s frustrating more federal funding isn’t being allocated, but one of the reasons we’ve brought this program to Ohio is to get around all those red flags and problems with funding. We can do this. It’s a struggle. We need more funding but we find ways around it.”
For Bowman and his family, experiencing the perils of heroin addiction firsthand have changed their outlook toward the opioid epidemic and its constantly growing number of victims.
“This is a worldwide problem,” he said. “More and more people are being affected by it. Before all of this happened, my family and I just thought we should let them die. We thought these were just drug addicts who didn’t deserve help. Then it happened to me and our perspectives changed. It sounds bad but you have to live it to understand it.”
While saying some medical and pharmaceutical professionals need to practice better caution and ethics, he also said a good deal of responsibility falls back on the individual who chooses to abuse drugs.
“Some doctors aren’t real doctors and they’ll just give you whatever you ask for,” he said. “Then again, it’s not their fault people abuse things. People will abuse anything, even Tylenol and Benadryl. People need these painkillers because it’s not like you can just go through a surgery sober. Some people just take it too far. We’re addicts. It’s what we do.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.