In Middletown, addiction’s toll: Faces, places — and headstones

The opioid epidemic is a national crisis. But what does that mean? To answer that, Yahoo News traveled to Middletown, Ohio — a city once considered as ordinary as its name, more recently known for an explosion in opioid use — and explored quantitative research about drugs, health care, and national public opinion. This is a problem so serious that it requires big data; so human that it needs a face. Here is what we found as seen through the lens of photojournalist Mary F. Calvert with text by Emily de La Bruyere.

See the rest of the Yahoo News special report on Opioids in Middletown >>>

Middletown, Ohio, a city under siege: ‘Everyone I know is on heroin’ >>>
Behind the white picket fences, heroin >>>
For taxpayers, the drug epidemic’s bills come due >>>
Addicts, families, doctors, cops all wonder: What works? Where do we go from here? >>>

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Addiction counseling

Jack Barrett, a recovering heroin addict, attends group therapy at Groups in Middletown, Ohio. He credits this treatment center with saving his life.
(Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Addiction counseling

A posting hangs from a bulletin board with contacts for drug counseling at Groups in Middletown, Ohio.
(Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Addiction counseling

Jack Barrett, a recovering heroin addict, attends group therapy at Groups in Middletown, Ohio.
(Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Addiction counseling

Jack Barrett speaks with counsellors. Barrett credits Groups with saving his life. To pass the gift on, he distributes pamphlets for Groups around his neighborhood, and tries to recruit friends to join him in treatment. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Addiction counseling

Chris Carroll, a recovering heroin addict, attends group therapy at Groups in Middletown, Ohio.
Photo by Mary F. Calvert

Addiction counseling

Urine samples on shelf at Groups in Middletown, Ohio. Here, patients are trusted to produce their samples without supervision. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Addiction counseling

An opiod addicts receive counseling at Groups in Middletown, Ohio. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

Butler County Sherriff’s office in Hamilton, Ohio.
(Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

Butler County Sherriff Richard K. Jones won’t allow his deputies to carry Narcan: He calls it a security concern.
(Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

“My officers’ job isn’t to save this person who chose to shoot up drugs,” says Richard K. Jones, Butler County Sheriff. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

A map at the Middletown Fire Department. The firemen say that overdose calls come in from all over town: This epidemic does not discriminate.
(Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

Middletown fire fighters between calls. “This is a small town with big city problems,” says one. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

Coat rack at the Middletown Fire Department. A federal grant last year allowed them to bring on the additional personnel necessary to deal with the growing number of calls. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

A firefighter with Narcan at the MIddletown Fire Department. Before, reviving a victim only took 2 mg. Recently, they’ve had to administer as much as 18. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

In the parking lot outside Old Crow Bar, the Middletown Fire Department responds to a call about a possible heroin overdose. The woman insists that she’s fine — she doesn’t want to go to the hospital. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

Drug paraphernalia is seen on a car hood as the Middletown Fire Department responds to a call about a woman possibly overdosing on heroin. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

The Middletown Fire Department responds to a call about a young woman possibly overdosing on heroin. “You’re not going to get in trouble:” A fireman tries to convince her to go to the hospital. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

The Middletown Fire Department responds to a call about a woman possibly overdosing on heroin. “You’re not going to get in trouble:” A fireman tries to convince her to go to the hospital. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

First responders

Lawrence Mulligan Jr, Mayor of Middletown, doesn’t think the opioid problem is worse here than in the surrounding area: It’s just more openly discussed. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Spiritual outreach

Neighborhood residents attend a free Sunday breakfast and church service at La Requena Belen church in Middletown, Ohio. The service focuses on addiction — and the help that Christ can offer. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Spiritual outreach

Neighborhood residents attend a free Sunday breakfast and church service at La Requena Belen church in Middletown, Ohio.
Photo by Mary F. Calvert

Spiritual outreach

Gene Robinson, a recovering heroin addict. He first used heroin in 2009, after finding his then-wife dead of a painkiller overdose.
(Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Spiritual outreach

Neighborhood residents attend a free Sunday breakfast and church service at La Requena Belen church in Middletown, Ohio. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Spiritual outreach

Neighborhood residents attend a free Sunday breakfast and church service at La Requena Belen church in Middletown, Ohio. “Addiction can take us as its slaves,” announces the pastor. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Spiritual outreach

Neighborhood residents attend a free Sunday breakfast and church service at La Requena Belen church in Middletown, Ohio. When the pastor asks if they would like to bow their heads and pray, they do. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Spiritual outreach

Neighborhood residents attend a free Sunday breakfast and church service at La Requena Belen church in Middletown, Ohio. A young boy picks at cereal.
(Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Gene Robinson and Terri Fugate have been together for two years. Gene is a recovering heroin addict, now on Suboxone. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Larry Fugate is a recovering heroin addict at home in Middletown, Ohio. Five months ago, his mom Terri Fugate resuccitated him after a heroin overdose. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Larry Fugate is a recovering heroin addict at home in Middletown, Ohio. His mom Terri Fugate found him hen he overdosed. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Larry Fugate, a recovering heroin addict at home in Middletown, writes music: “Blues Clues couldn’t solve this — mystery. Cocaine, amphetamine, codeine dreams — a fiend.” (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Gene Robinson, right, a recovering heroin addict, with his fiancée’s son, Larry Fugate, left – also a recovering addict. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Larry Fugate is a recovering heroin addict at home in Middletown, Ohio. Five months ago, his mom Terri Fugate resuscitated him after a heroin overdose. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Larry Fugate is a recovering heroin addict at home in Middletown, Ohio. Five months ago, his mom Terri Fugate resuscitated him after a heroin overdose. His Mom is pictured with her fiancé, Gene Robinson, also a recovering heroin addict. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Larry Fugate is a recovering heroin addict at home in Middletown, Ohio. Five months ago, his mom Terri Fugate resuscitated him after a heroin overdose. He drew most of his tattoos himself. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Terri Fugate and her fiancé, Gene Robinson — is a a recovering heroin addict. An electrician, Gene prepares to head out for a job. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Terri Fugate’s fiancé Gene and son, Larry, are recovering heroin addicts. Terri is “proud of her boys.” (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Recovery

Larry Fugate is a recovering heroin addict at home in Middletown, Ohio. HIs mom Terri Fugate resuscitated him after an overdose five months ago, upstairs in his room. He is applying for jobs at AK Steel. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Loved ones lost

Scott Weidle built a memorial park in Germantown, Ohio, to honor his son, Daniel, who died of an opioid overdose on December 26, 2016. The park is also dedicated to Daniel’s cousins, Andy Genslinger and Zach Cox, also victims of opioid addiction. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Loved ones lost

Scott Weidle built a memorial park Germantown, Ohio, to honor his son, Daniel, who died of an opioid overdose on December 26, 2016. He visits daily. The park brings him peace. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)

Loved ones lost

Daniel Weidle’s memorial park also honors his cousin, Andy Genslinger — a talented football player whose cleats hang above his memorial rock. (Photograph by Mary F. Calvert for Yahoo News)