"As I grew up," Jon Dennison told Daily Herald staff writer Marie Wilson, "drugs kind of took away all my dreams."
Dennison is fighting a heroin addiction that is so relentless that he still struggles with it even after four friends have died from their addictions and he almost has himself.
This is the terrifying power of a heroin epidemic that sweeps across the suburbs and the nation.
Friends die, and still you use.
Imagine the awful power of that.
Last April, as we introduced a series "Heroin Across America," we wrote in this space a similar message, about a young addict who witnessed a friend die from an overdose but kept using, was suspected of supplying another friend who barely survived an overdose and still kept using.
Heroin addiction is tenacious, and the best hope Dennison and others who are addicted have in combating it is to be tenacious in return.
Today, as we introduce our series "Heroin in the Suburbs: Through Their Eyes," we echo that message:
The addict's guard against relapse must never let up. Never.
Likewise, as a community, we must be tenacious too.
We first directed a concerted reporting effort on the suburbs' hidden scourge in 2001, and it is obvious that through all the years since, the problem not only persists but actually grows worse.
Parents must be relentlessly on guard.
Social services must be relentlessly on guard.
Law enforcement must be relentlessly on guard.
We as a community must be always on guard.
As we said a year ago in this space, parents must educate themselves and work together with schools to get the word out to other parents and to students.
Community groups, social service agencies, churches need to make the problem a priority.
Law enforcement must work together to focus on the drug network.
The reality is, as Dennison observes, heroin addiction destroys dreams. And it destroys lives.
Not just the lives of addicts, but the lives of their families and loved ones too.
It takes away cares and goals and aspirations, the glorious meanings of life.
For addicts, our advice is simple: All of that can be recovered but only with determination and relentless attention.
For nonaddicts, our advice is even simpler: The best way to beat a heroin addiction is to never start one.