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Portman Addresses Heroin in Marion

1/18/2016 | By: Spenser Hickey, The Marion Star

MARION - The stories shared with Sen. Rob Portman on Monday all had common threads, and some of those telling their stories had helped each other on the road to recovery. But one story had to be told by others.

Elizabeth Carey, Calysta Dildine and Kelly Clixby shared Chrystina Carey's story with Portman and the invited attendees. Chrystina Carey was in recovery from heroin addiction but relapsed and died from an overdose in February 2013, they said.

"Chrystina was amazing. She was straight-edged for a really long time — she didn't drink, smoke, anything," Elizabeth Carey said as she remembered her twin sister. Elizabeth Carey was there with her niece, Calysta Dildine.

But Chrystina Carey's eventual ecstasy use on the weekends led to oxycodone, which became too expensive so she switched to heroin, Elizabeth Carey said. After time at West Central Community Correctional Facility in Marysville, Chrystina Carey entered a sober-living facility in Marysville, where she was reunited with her friend Kelly Clixby.

Clixby and Chrystina Carey had both used and been arrested together, but by that time Clixby was in recovery and led the sober-living facility. Chrystina Carey had a "mental relapse," Elizabeth Carey said, and she left the house seeking a physical one. When she did, Clixby tried to stop her and warned her that if she left, she'd relapse and heroin would kill her.

Clixby got the phone call the next morning.

Portman, a Republican from Ohio, came to Marion to hear that story and those of addicts who are in recovery to gather information and discuss the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, legislation he's helped write that would increase resources if passed.

The legislation would take several steps toward increasing prevention and treatment resources, including greater availability for naloxone and more funding of recovery services and addiction treatment. It also would push for a national education campaign on addiction; a youth initiative and task force on recovery; and eliminating some of the consequences of a drug conviction, including limited access to student loans and Pell grants.

"I feel like it's an opportunity to help people to be able to achieve their God-given abilities," Portman said on why he was advocating for the legislation. "What we see in here are people who are willing to turn their life around if they're given some support, and that's one thing I can help do."

The meeting was hosted at the Crawford-Marion Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services, and Portman praised the work of Director Jody Demo-Hodgins while also noting the county had more than 20 overdose deaths for the fourth consecutive year in 2015.

While the five speakers who were in recovery had tried to quit using drugs before and relapsed, all had positive stories to share now. Bethani Temple was the first to graduate from Marion County's Family Dependency Treatment Court, a specialized docket for mothers who have substance abuse issues and are in Children Services cases. Now, she's the court coordinator and leads others in recovery.

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