Should Dealers Be Responsible for Heroin-Related Deaths?

heroin needle

My husband Nick and I just had this discussion. Should someone who supplies another person with heroin who overdoses be charged and face prison time?

We lost Nicholas, our nephew, in August of 2013 to heroin (Read Nicholas’ story 72 Hours of Heroin here). He had been struggling with his addiction but had been clean for a few months. One night the temptation was too strong and he used, with the result being the end of his life. Nick and I weren’t married yet but living together so technically, Nicholas wasn’t my nephew yet but I truly enjoyed having him in my life. His death stunned us.

As we sat at the hospital praying and hoping he’d magically wake up, I went through his phone. The journalist and curious person in me had to know what happened. He was doing so good. He was staying clean. I had to know why. I had to know a timeline and I had to know who sold it to him. I was so angry with the person who sold it to him. I wanted that person to pay. I was able to piece together a timeline and figure out what had Nicholas so down that day. I was also able to figure out who sold the heroin to him… sort of. I had a name, but obviously a nickname. I also had a phone number. The deal had gone down via text message. We turned the phone into the police but for whatever reasons, the case went cold and they weren’t able to make an arrest.

I was angry. This guy killed our nephew. He gave him an illegal drug that is known to cause death A LOT.

I read yesterday that a dealer admitted to supplying a fatal dose of heroin to a Northern Kentucky man and is now facing 20 years to life in prison (Read Story Here). I know I would have jumped up and down for joy had this been Nicholas’ dealer. But when I first read the article, I had a battle between my head and my heart. If I owned a gun store, legally sold you a gun and you went home and shot yourself, I wouldn’t be charged nor should I. If I sold you a car and you chose to drive it off a bridge and died, I wouldn’t be charged. If I sold you cigarettes for 20 years and you died from lung cancer, I wouldn’t be charged.  If I legally sold you beer, you chose to drive, wrecked and killed someone else, I wouldn’t be charged. So why should the heroin dealer? In my heart, I immediately knew I wanted the dealer charged. But my head kept asking questions and comparing it to gun, car and beer salesman.

I told my husband that my head and my heart were having a battle. Although I think he was surprised at first, given all we have been through in the last year, but was also understanding. He said it wasn’t a struggle for him though. Nick said the difference is none of the other acts are illegal. As long as you follow the laws set in place, it’s not illegal to sell a car, a gun, cigarettes or alcohol. It’s illegal to sell heroin. Everyone knows that heroin can, and most likely will eventually, kill.  I am not denying that the user made a choice, a deadly choice but the dealer holds some responsibility as well. The dealer may not have held a gun to the user’s head or pushed the needle into their arm but the dealer provided the user with the deadly drug.

I want to know… what are your thoughts on the subject? Please be respectful of each others’ opinions.




Drug Addicts – Who Do We Blame?

drugsI was about 19 the first, and only time I was offered cocaine. I was at a friend’s apartment sitting at her kitchen table catching up when her two friends asked for a mirror and a spoon. I was confused. What could they want these things for? Then one of the girls pulled out a little capped bottle. She unscrewed the cap and started pouring coke on the mirror. I was FREAKED. What on earth were they doing? I immediately got up and said I had to leave. I rushed out of there with no explanation.


I was not a sheltered teen. I honestly can’t tell you what made me run out of the apartment that day other than I knew I didn’t want to be there. My parents never really had a drug talk with me that I can remember. I didn’t even think about how my parents would react if I did stay or do drugs. I was 19. I was in college. I liked to have fun. But cocaine was off-limits in my mind. It wasn’t something I had ever thought about prior to this day. There was just something inside me that told me this was bad news. I know that if it would have been heroin on that table, next to a needle, I would have probably run out screaming. Or maybe I would have just passed out right there at the idea. My insides would have been screaming more than this is bad news. So why do some of us have that inside of us and others don’t?

Someone told me today that society needs to stop making drugs look cool. I have talked to a few addicts in my life and none of them have ever said that they did heroin to be cool. I don’t think there is anything cool about wrapping a band or a belt around your arm and shooting a needle full of muddy looking drugs in your veins.

I’ve heard people blame the parents of the addict. They insist it must have been a bad upbringing. The parents were too strict or not strict enough. The parents weren’t around or they didn’t give the child the right opportunities. I don’t agree with this at all.

Someone very close to me grew up in a very crazy home. I won’t go into a lot of details but based on her upbringing, she should be in prison for drug dealing or living on the streets. Instead, she decided she wasn’t going to let her childhood define her. She got a college degree, found a good job, owns a home and is doing very well for herself. My boyfriend’s nephew, who passed away last month from an accidental overdose, grew up in a prominent city, attended the number one high school in the state, had a strong Christian background and a large, close family. I know another family with five children. One of the five is addicted to heroin. The other four kids had the same family life and they are doing well for themselves.

So what is it that makes some of us want to run but others stick around and do drugs?

Mental/emotional Illness maybe? Now hear me out. Is it possible that the person is dealing with depression, anxiety or some type of chemical imbalance decides to take a drug out of desperation? They so bad want to feel “normal” or forget whatever is going on in their head that they turn to drugs. They think they have it under control but after a while it becomes an addiction. It becomes their “normal” and they are hooked. Eventually they will lie, steal and do whatever it takes to get their drug.

Is it possible that I’m somewhat “normal” and that’s why I know to run? Hmmm… me normal? But seriously, what do you think it is that makes some of us just say no and others say yes? I want to know so I can hopefully instill the instinct to run in my own children!

Check this site out or this Facebook page to learn more about heroin.

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Peer Pressure Does Not = a Needle in the Veins

A mom recently told me that heroin has her scared for her child’s future and that she just has to instill over and over to say no to drugs. Yes, we need to tell our kids that but come on people… Would you have ever stuck a needle in your veins because of peer pressure? A needle full of some black tar looking crazy drug that you hear kills people all the time? It’s not like saying “come on try this beer. It will be fun.” Or “you’ll love the way you feel after smoking a joint. You’ll be all relaxed.” It’s a NEEDLE full of deadly drugs! And chances are, it’s a dirty needle. So why do so many people do it? Why is it an epidemic in Northern Kentucky?

Probably because we only teach our kids to say no to drugs. We don’t explain why, other than the stuff they don’t really understand or care about. We don’t teach our children from a young age how to cope with the everyday stress of life. We put a stigma on seeing a counselor making it as if it’s a horrible thing that only crazy people do. Our health care makes counseling extremely expensive, causing it to be a financial burden for families so they just don’t go.


Someone told me that life was hard when we were growing up and we didn’t turn to heroin. In fact heroin was the off-limits icky drug. But heroin was also extremely expensive then. The fact that it is so cheap is one of the reasons it’s so popular. You can get high for $5.

I will admit I have been to counseling many times in my adult life. I usually go to just a few sessions for a particular issue but it helps. It helps so much that I have never popped a pill or stuck a needle in my arm for fun. But I’m lucky. Part of my benefit package through work allows for free counseling through a program called Emergency Professional Assistance offered at a local hospital. I can only go eight times a year but I usually only need a session or two to work something out.

I introduced my children to counseling at a young age. I think they both realize that it is okay to ask for help. They know that sometime talking it out with someone who has no personal interest in the situation is just what they need. They know they can talk to me about anything but they also know that I am going to be emotionally involved so sometimes they will say “hey mom, I got something going on I want to talk to the counselor about. Can you make an appointment?” and that is totally fine.

My close friends, boyfriend and family members have also made it clear to the kids that they can go to them as well. Our deal is as long as the kids aren’t in danger in any way, they will keep the conversation private from me if that’s what the kids wish. Yes, it can be tempting to say “what did they say?” but I’m just relieved they are talking to someone.

I have also tried to give the kids tools to work through things themselves and not make everything a bigger deal than it is. They have to assess the situation, decide if it is something to worry about or not, come up with an action plan and go from there. And sometimes the action plan is to say the Serenity prayer over and over.

Now I know this does not mean my children are immune from drugs or even heroin. But at least I know I have done more than told them “just say no to drugs” because it really just doesn’t work that way. Don’t get me wrong, I realize peer pressure may play a role sometimes but I don’t think that the people would be pressured into it if they were dealing with life in a healthy way in the first place.

So what now? First step would be to talk to your loved ones about coping with life’s issues without numbing the pain with drugs. Discuss counseling, talking with friends and family, etc… Let them know you know life can be hard at times and you are there for them. Second step is to visit This website was created by the family of Nicholas Specht to be the go-to spot for education and resources regarding heroin.

counseling help

High School V. Middle School

I have been writing about a lot of intense stuff lately – Heroin, Histio, Heroin, Histio… To be honest, I need a break and I think you do too. So let’s talk about what else has been going on in my house since August 20. Andi and Joey are back in school!! Wohoo! Oops, did I type that. 🙂 They are both at new schools. Joey has started middle school and Andi has started high school. Big steps!

first day of school andifirst day of school joey










Seriously, how cute are they?

I wrote a post in January, while choosing Andi’s high school classes, called Transitioning to High School. Andi saw this post and decided to write her own response, which is a must read. Andi states in her post “I am taking Spanish which I think will be easy ‘cuz lamp is just like el lampo and phone is just like el phono.” Well she has quickly figured out that Spanish is not that easy. She has to study words like “el lampo” at least 30 minutes every night. Neither Nick or I know Spanish. Well I can count to 10 and ask you what’s up. Que Pasa? But that is about it.

spanishShe was super frustrated over the weekend that neither of us could ask her questions in Spanish. “All you have to do is read what it says and I’ll answer in Spanish.” Well how on earth would I know what it says? I can try to pronounce it but seriously, it’s a foreign language. She totally lucked out though. Her younger brother, you know… the one she picks on and gives a hard time… the cute blonde boy pictured above… yes Joey… he knows Spanish! Well he knows it better than any of us. The elementary school implemented a Spanish program (after Andi of course) so Joey has been learning for years. He is able to study with her. He can actually read the words the way they are supposed to be said and he understands Andi when she answers. Thank goodness for little brothers – right Andi?

She does seem to like her journalism class even though she is one of only four or five freshman in the class. I think she’s happy she passed on AP Geography even though she was back and forth a hundred times (see her own response above). Physics seems to be kicking her butt but she knows we’ll get a tutor if needed.

I’m guessing that being able to leave campus for lunch is her favorite part of high school.

Now let’s talk about my Super Joey! That boy cracks me up. He’s loving middle school. His elementary class had about 100 kids – only about 20 were boys. I guess the odds were good if you wanted a date in the fifth grade but I think he is excited to meet more boys this year. He’s already made a few new friends. He is enjoying going to football games, kickoff parties and having a  variety of classes.

It’s funny how different my kids personalities are. I found out that Joey was front and center dancing and playing games at the middle school kickoff. He’s a true extrovert. Andi on the other hand likes to sit back and observe. They are both amazing kids and I am excited about the next few years of their lives. I’d just like them to slow down! 🙂

Well, have to sign off and go shopping for an el lampo! Let me know how the school year is going for your kids!

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Heroin Sucks; Support Rocks

I have to say I’m completely overwhelmed by the amount of hits my post 72 Hours of Heroin has had, as well as all of the comments that were made on the post. For days I couldn’t get on Facebook without it clogging up my news feed. Hundreds of people shared and it and 30,000 people read it! I wrote that post as my own therapy, just as I do all my posts. But this post became therapy for so many more people. Thousands of people.

The comments have been so hard for me to read and even harder to reply to but I know I need to for my own therapy. Dozens of people have told me their stories with heroin. My son died, my brother died, my sister is hooked, I found my cousin dead, my girlfriend won’t give it up… It was the same story with different names over and over. I was shocked. I can’t believe how common this drug is. I can’t believe how many people are hurting so bad that they are willing to inject a needle full of street drugs into their veins.

Some of the comments were from people asking me for advice. They have loved ones hooked on heroin and they don’t know how to help them. I wish I had the answers. Anyone who knows me knows that it’s in my nature to help. I will truly give you my last dollar for food, I will find you resources for therapy, medical care, housing, schooling, whatever you need. That’s just me. So seeing my boyfriend’s nephew die like this, I’m ready to take the heroin epidemic on and somehow win! Nicholas’ whole family is coming together to fight this. We want to educate others on what they can do if there is a problem but more importantly help people say no to heroin.


I don’t have a lot of advice yet but I am taking the time to research and learn. I am not a medical professional or counselor so please don’t take any of my advice as being from a professional. I am just a person who cared a lot about someone who lost their life to heroin. I will share what I have learned so far:

1. Take the time to learn about Casey’s Law. This law allows you to place a person of any age in rehab without their consent. There are some hoops to do this so read up and be prepared.

2. Understand that addiction is an illness. Just like any serious illness, it might take more than one round of treatment.

3. Look into your insurance and see what they will pay for regarding rehab.

4. If you have a known heroin addict in your life, get Naloxone (Narcan) and carry it on your person at all times. It’s not the easiest thing to get just yet but is legal, at least in Kentucky, for a non-user to have it prescribed to them. It can save an addicts life if administered quickly after an overdose. Just make sure you use it the right way.

5. Seek out a meeting. I know you are thinking meetings are for the user. Al-anon meetings can help the family and friends cope and learn to not enable the addict while still being there for them.

6. Prevent drug use by teaching your children early in life how to deal with life’s issues. Most drug users turn to drugs because something bad happened in their life that they just couldn’t or didn’t want to handle. Take your children to counseling, read books with them about coping, talk to them about different life scenarios and let them know that heroin will kill them.

7. Watch this video and share it with your family. It’s powerful.

8. Consider signing this petition to make laws stricter for dealers.

9. If your state isn’t charging the dealers for murder, share this story: Dealers Now Being Charged in Overdose Deaths, with your state prosecutor and legislators and urge them to do so.

10. Heroin deals take place everywhere – street corners, parking lots, restaurants, upscale areas, bad neighborhoods, etc. You might witness one happen. I am begging you to call 911 as long as it is safe. If you can report a dealer without putting yourself in harm’s way, please do so!

11. Share Nicholas’ story over and over again. It seems to be helping others. Many people have told me that they have used it to discuss the epidemic with their own children.

I will share more with you as I learn more. Keep sending me your comments and questions and I’ll do my best to respond.

I have one more thing to ask of you. We want your stories. A website is being developed to bring people together on this issue. It will be used to share stories, educate people and much more. We would like to share your stories on the website. You can post your story here or email it to We don’t have to use your name on the website. Just let us know if you want to remain anonymous. The stories can be about your struggles with heroin, how you are dealing with a loved one who is using, how you started using or anything at all that is associated with heroin. We might not use every story but we appreciate all that are submitted.

Always smiling

Always smiling

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