‘And then he de­cided not to be’

David McCarthy got clean on his own. But in­ex­pen­sive, plen­ti­ful heroin was too al­lur­ing.

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARC FISHER IN FAL­MOUTH, MAINE

Ev­ery­thing fi­nally seemed back on track. David was home for a short visit and looked happy, calm. He had a job, a girl­friend, a plan. His fa­ther, Kevin McCarthy, came home from work that Thurs­day and smiled to see his son take his dog, Kima, named for the drug-fight­ing de­tec­tive on “The Wire,” out for a long walk.

When David came back, fa­ther and son set­tled in to watch their Pa­tri­ots play the Jets on “Thurs­day Night Football.” David gave his fa­ther grief about the TV be­ing too small: “Come on, Dad, get with the 21st cen­tury.” Near half­time, David got up and said he was go­ing to watch part of the game at a friend’s place.

When David re­turned an hour later, they watched the end of the game to­gether. The Pa­tri­ots won, barely. Kevin went to work the next morn­ing, and he re­turned home Fri­day af­ter­noon at 4:30. It was to be David’s last night at home be­fore he drove up to Su­gar­loaf Moun­tain to spend the win­ter at the fam­ily’s ski place, work­ing in a res­tau­rant, his pas­sion.

Kevin, who had moved his fam­ily to this splen­did spot on the Maine coast af­ter find­ing the life of a high-pow­ered Man­hat­tan at­tor­ney too fraz­zling, and Nancy, David’s step­mother, had de­cided

against tak­ing David out to din­ner on his last night home — there would be too much temp­ta­tion to drink. Why risk it with David on the good path? So Kevin had gone out, bought a steak and thrown it on the grill.

Then he heard whin­ing from up­stairs. Kima, David’s black Lab. “Dave? Dave!” the fa­ther yelled up. He heard just the dog. He went up, opened the door and saw David’s feet on the floor. His boy was cold.

“It was pretty clear he was dead,” the fa­ther said. David was 29.

The nee­dle was on the bed, next to him. The spoon was on the night­stand. A crys­talline sub­stance glis­tened in the spoon.

Kevin tried to re­vive his son, pump­ing, push­ing, plead­ing. He called 911. He ar­gued with the op­er­a­tor, who had the lo­ca­tion wrong. The op­er­a­tor kept telling Kevin to calm down.

The next 20 hours were a blur of po­lice sirens, am­bu­lances, drug agents, cops, friends and the rest of the fam­ily, now com­ing home for the worst pos­si­ble rea­son.

All of that hell — even be­fore a sec­ond son over­dosed on heroin, the very next night.

They were kids who had it made, at least on pa­per. The McCarthys’ ram­bling farm­house on U.S. 1, not a quar­ter-mile from the ocean, had a sep­a­rate wing for the boys. They called it The Bunkhouse. They had cars, money and plenty of in­de­pen­dence, like many teens in Fal­mouth, a town of 11,000, a place of priv­i­lege just across a short bridge from Port­land, the state’s largest city.

It’s a place now rav­aged by heroin — four over­doses, two of them fa­tal, in the past 10 months, in a town more ac­cus­tomed to noth­ing of the kind. Maine is at the burn­ing core of a na­tion­wide heroin epi­demic, the per­verse out­come of a well-in­ten­tioned drive to save Amer­i­cans from the last drug craze, a wide­spread hunger for heroin’s chem­i­cal cousin, pre­scrip­tion opi­ate pills such as Oxycon­tin.

Heroin — now cheap, plen­ti­ful and more po­tent than ever — is killing peo­ple at record rates. Across the na­tion, deaths from heroin over­doses nearly quadru­pled in the decade end­ing in 2013, ac­cord­ing to a new anal­y­sis by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

In Maine, deaths from heroin over­doses bal­looned from seven in 2010 to 57 last year. Two-thirds of the vic­tims were, like David, adults in their 20s and 30s. In 2012, heroin ac­counted for 8 per­cent of the caseload for Maine’s Drug Crimes Task Force; last year, it jumped to 32 per­cent. In Port­land, the num­ber of ad­dicts served by the nee­dle ex­change nearly dou­bled in just two years. To­day in Maine, a sin­gle tablet of Oxycon­tin of­ten costs $50; ad­dicts can find a sin­gle-dose packet of heroin for as lit­tle as $10.

David and his friends, like their par­ents, al­ways thought of heroin as an in­ner-city scourge, some­thing for strung-out, dead-end junkies. An en­tirely dif­fer­ent tra­jec­tory had been set for them.

David’s mother, Anne Ire­land, an artist, took him down to New York a cou­ple of times a year to see Broad­way shows. Cute and friendly with his tou­sled hair and toothy smile, David was the youngest of her three boys; she wanted him to be a kid who liked to sit and read, like his broth­ers. She lim­ited their TV to week­ends, “with the ‘ Se­in­feld’ ex­cep­tion,” she said. But what had worked for her older boys didn’t seem to take with David.

“He was al­ways dif­fer­ent,” she said. “He had ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. He had par­ents who loved him. He seemed to re­ject that for the love of his peers. He wanted so des­per­ately to be cool and older.”

When David was start­ing at Fal­mouth High School, his par­ents split up. Be­gin­ning in 10th grade, he lived with his fa­ther; his re­la­tion­ship with his mother frayed.

David and his friends started smok­ing mar­i­juana in mid­dle school. “We all shared this land of be­ing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from the rest of the fam­ily, al­most black sheep,” said John Pal­man, a long­time friend. “We were all the youngest sib­lings, with suc­cess­ful older sibs.”

In 10th grade, one of David’s step­broth­ers, Michael, an avid snow­boarder, suf­fered an in­jury and was pre­scribed codeine and then Oxycon­tin, an opi­ate painkiller. It was an at-will pre­scrip­tion; he could get more when­ever he wanted. Michael — whose fam­ily asked that he be iden­ti­fied by his mid­dle name — of­fered some pills to David and his friends.

Soon, David was buy­ing Oxys from a guy in the gro­cery store park­ing lot.

“The driv­ing force was to test the un­known,” said a high school friend of David’s who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was ad­mit­ting to ex­ten­sive drug use. “I thought I wasn’t in the lower so­cioe­co­nomic group, so I’m not go­ing to get hooked like peo­ple of that group.”

Oxys were no party drug. They were, the friend said, “a drug of iso­la­tion.”

But David and his friends had a group of their own, too — af­flu­ent kids such as David, and kids from the other Maine, the towns where mills once flour­ished, where too many peo­ple now have too few op­tions. At a sub­ur­ban school such as Fal­mouth’s, teens from both worlds came to­gether. “You’re sit­ting next to the kid who’s in the coun­try club, and you’re not any­where near that so­cial strata,” Fal­mouth Po­lice Chief Ed Tolan said.

David’s group co­a­lesced around drugs, mostly mar­i­juana and pills. A decade later, drugs re­mained their bond, but they had stepped up to some­thing far more deadly.

The day be­fore David’s fu­neral, one of his high school friends, a woman with whom he had a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship that lasted more than a year, wrote about him on Face­book: “I think I lost the moon while I was count­ing the stars. . . . we AL­WAYS found our [way] back to each other. . . . I will al­ways love u and cher­ish what we had my first love. David McCarthy may an­gels lead u in.”

The woman who wrote that trib­ute was one of two high school friends who supplied David with heroin, ac­cord­ing to McCarthy’s par­ents, friends and the po­lice.

“We call her the an­gel of death,” Tolan said. These were kids he had watched grow up. The chief says he be­lieves David’s old friend sold drugs to at least three of the town’s four over­dose vic­tims in the past year.

The woman was the love of David’s life in high school, his mother said. “He wanted a girl­friend so des­per­ately,” she said. “I hardly knew her; he didn’t bring her home. He’d de­cided I was the en­emy.”

Two law en­force­ment of­fi­cials said the woman and another high school friend, a man who also grew up in Fal­mouth, supplied heroin to their old friends in Fal­mouth and Port­land. The man sold the fa­tal heroin to David and, the next night, to his step­brother, the of­fi­cials said.

The woman, who is not iden­ti­fied here be­cause she has not been charged with a crime, was an­guished by David’s death. “I’ve been here in my bed since last Satur­day,” she wrote a week af­ter the over­dose. “It’s safe here and I can cry as much as I want and re-read letters” from David.

The next day, she alerted her friends that she was leav­ing town: “I’m pack in what will fit inmy purse and im run­ning away. I’m get­tin in the car with the first stranger that picks me up whether they have candy or not.”

“Candy,” ac­cord­ing to friends and po­lice, was the code word for heroin that the woman used on so­cial media to alert friends when a new ship­ment ar­rived in town.

Her Face­book page is a jar­ring col­li­sion of mun­dane do­mes­tic­ity, de­vo­tion to her young son, and ch­esty boast­ing about her er­ratic nightlife — drink­ing, drugs, sex and her night job as a strip­per. Ac­counts of par­ent-teacher con­fer­ences bump up against in­vi­ta­tions to get wasted. “Happy birth­day tomy lit­tle man” fol­lows “Shout out to the ladies that keep their clothes on and make money. I’m not one of them but good for y’all.”

The woman, in a brief meet­ing at her apart­ment in a sub­si­dized build­ing in an artsy, gen­tri­fy­ing sec­tion of Port­land, ini­tially agreed to talk about David and drugs. But she never came through on that prom­ise and later ig­nored re­quests for com­ment. Her grand­mother, whose house she of­ten vis­its, said the woman rarely re­sponds to calls and mostly

sleeps her days away.

The woman has lived in a suc­ces­sion of sub­si­dized apart­ments; there’s no sign of big prof­its from her drug sales. Po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors say that’s not un­usual: The heroin trade bears lit­tle re­sem­blance to the street cor­ner traf­fic as­so­ci­ated with crack or PCP.

In Fal­mouth and Port­land, heroin is of­ten sold by ad­dicts op­er­at­ing out of their own homes. They drive south on In­ter­state 95 to de­pressed cities in Mas­sachusetts, to Low­ell, Lynn or Lawrence, where they con­nect with Do­mini­can and Mex­i­can gang mem­bers selling cheap heroin from Mexico, now the source of most heroin in the United States.

The deal­ers from Maine bring back just enough to sell to friends, us­ing their nar­row profit to sat­isfy their own crav­ings. Some­times, gang mem­bers from Bos­ton, New York or Penn­syl­va­nia drive north to Maine and set up in an ad­dict’s apart­ment, selling for a day or two un­til the pack­age is gone, pay­ing their hosts with free or dis­counted heroin.

Then, a few days later, they get on the road and do it all over again.

Start­ing in high school, David and his friends would do Oxys in the car. Grind up the pill, snort it, go back to the house, smoke pot, watch TV. Re­peat. Two years af­ter David fin­ished high school, his step­mother opened a drawer in the room he shared with Michael and found piles of lit­tle pack­ets. The boys told her it was co­caine. She learned years later that it was heroin.

The switch to heroin hap­pened be­cause their reg­u­lar Oxy sup­plier had run short. “It wasn’t even a 20-minute con­ver­sa­tion,” said a friend who was with David that day. “It was re­ally just thatwe couldn’t get what we usu­ally got, and we knewit was clin­i­cally ba­si­cally the same drug.”

The guys snorted heroin, usu­ally a cou­ple of times a week, for years. Shoot­ing up was some­thing they saw in scary movies. But over time, they built up a de­pen­dence. They needed a fix just to get by, and they needed ever more to get high. They found them­selves act­ing out of des­per­a­tion — not break­ing into strangers’ homes, but steal­ing from their par­ents.

Four years into his heroin habit, David, hav­ing seen his friends shoot up, tried to do it to him­self. He couldn’t. “Dave had a se­ri­ous aver­sion to nee­dles,” said a friend whom David called to ask for help in­ject­ing the drug.

“One hun­dred per­cent of the peo­ple who come in here say they never thought they’d put a nee­dle in their arm,” said Steve Danzig, a drug coun­selor who has worked with fam­i­lies in Fal­mouth, in­clud­ing the McCarthys. “But for some­body who’s been us­ing, it’s not that big a step. Of­ten, it’s cu­rios­ity: You see some­body shoot­ing up, and it’s clear he’s much higher than you are. And it’s of­ten a fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion, be­cause you can get much big­ger bang for the buck shoot­ing it.”

Af­ter a decade of wide­spread over-pre­scrip­tion of opi­ates such as Oxycon­tin, Per­co­cet and Vi­codin, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment pressed phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal mak­ers to re­for­mu­late pills to make them dif­fi­cult to snort, and it re­quired physi­cians to pre­scribe fewer of the habit­form­ing pills. Af­ter Oxycon­tins were re­for­mu­lated in 2010, street avail­abil­ity of the pills tight­ened; prices shot up.

“There can be no ar­gu­ment: Heroin has be­come much cheaper in the past two years be­cause the crack­down on Oxys made it much harder to get pills on the street,” said Dan Perry, the as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney in Maine who is in charge of drug cases.

“It’s like a metastatic cul­tural can­cer — we went from vir­tu­ally no in­tra­venous drug use three years ago to now ra­tioning care in a rag­ing, un­treated epi­demic,” said Mark Publicker, a physi­cian who ran the Mercy Re­cov­ery Cen­ter, Maine’s largest out­pa­tient drug detox pro­gram, un­til it shut down last month be­cause nei­ther pri­vate nor gov­ern­ment in­sur­ance would pay enough to cover its costs.

In Fal­mouth, the turn from pills to heroin was ev­i­dent in the de­cline of rob­beries at phar­ma­cies. Opi­ate pills used to be stored be­hind the counter, and ad­dicts knew it; an af­ter-hours break-in could keep them flush with pills for months. Then phar­ma­cies changed their prac­tices; pre­scrip­tions for opi­ates now must be called in 24 hours in ad­vance, and only the amount pre­scribed is de­liv­ered to the store. In the past two years, Tolan said, phar­macy rob­beries have largely ceased, re­placed by heroin’s surge.

For David and his friends, scor­ing their next fix was as easy as tex­ting a friend.

Four years ago, hooked and broke from spend­ing his res­tau­rant salary on drugs, David called his mother and told her he had no place to live. He and his old high school girl­friend had bro­ken up. Would Anne take him in? Mother and son hadn’t lived to­gether for nearly a decade. She brought him home.

“It was so painful to see him, not be­cause of drugs, but be­cause he was so di­rec­tion­less,” said Anne, a small red­head with a New Yorker’s me­tab­o­lism. “I didn’t know what to talk to David about. He was into rap and didn’t read a lot of books. The TV was al­ways on BET. I knew noth­ing about his life, re­ally. I just wor­ried about him, con­stantly.”

David wore his hoodie up when he was around his mother. He looked gaunt, worn. “He was this spec­tral pres­ence,” she said. She took his salary and put him on an al­lowance. She thought he’d been spend­ing his money on pot. He stole from her, nearly $1,000 that she had hid­den where she kept her best jew­elry.

One day, she came down­stairs to find a jar of yel­low liq­uid on the kitchen counter. “He had pissed in a jar,” she said. “He just lost all sense of deco­rum, ap­pro­pri­ate­ness. He didn’t care.”

She told him he could not live with her any­more. He sent her an an­gry e-mail laced with curse words.

Last year, about six months be­fore David died, he called his friend John: He had shot up and later awak­ened to find that an en­tire side of his body had gone numb. John ar­ranged for David to be taken to a hos­pi­tal, where he was told he had suf­fered a mi­nor stroke.

Kevin had it out with his son. “I’m done — you lied to me, you’ve taken ad­van­tage of ev­ery­thing we’ve tried to do for you,” the fa­ther told his boy. And he cut him off — no more money, no more liv­ing in the fam­ily’s ski place.

John had long urged David to get help. “He’s go­ing to die,” John told David’s friends. “I was say­ing it, but I wasn’t do­ing any­thing about it.”

David thought he could get off the drug by him­self. He told friends that heroin wasn’t fun any­more and that he wanted to quit. He had been through detox pro­grams and short-term re­hab, but they hadn’t worked. He had too much pride to ask his par­ents for the $30,000 he would need for a long-term re­hab stay. Some­how, his fa­ther said, David man­aged “to put to­gether six or seven months of so­bri­ety, do­ing it on his own.”

By last sum­mer, his par­ents said, David seemed to have found his way for­ward. He looked bet­ter, clean-shaven. He was run­ning six miles a day.

“He fi­nally seemed like a man,” Anne said. “So alert, so in the world. And then he de­cided not to be.”

The McCarthys hardly ever talked about the boys’ drug use. When David was fired from a sum­mer job on a neigh­bor’s lob­ster boat, the neigh­bor told Kevin, “Look, it’s not my place, but I think there’s some­thing go­ing on with drugs.” Kevin asked the neigh­bor to give David another chance; the neigh­bor re­fused.

“We just pre­tended they were go­ing to be all right,” Kevin said. “They were send­ing sig­nals say­ing ‘ help’ all the time, and we didn’t act.”

He found nee­dles up at the ski house. He some­times saw tracks on David’s arms.

“I thought I knew a lot of things, but I didn’t,” Kevin said. “You’re in a com­mu­nity and you want to pro­tect your child, but you also want your child to suc­ceed. It’s a prob­lem a lot of peo­ple in my so­cial sphere don’t want to ac­knowl­edge.”

Around town, there have been whis­pers about young peo­ple on heroin, but the topic is not some­thing that peo­ple dis­cuss openly. “There’s a lot of fam­i­lies out here that would never, ever ad­mit there’s a heroin prob­lem,” said Tolan, the po­lice chief.

Gary Pal­man, the fa­ther of David’s friend John, is a pain man­age­ment doc­tor who spent two decades writ­ing thou­sands of pre­scrip­tions for the same opi­ate pills that teens in town were abus­ing. “We flooded the streets with these med­i­ca­tions,” he said. “It took us years to re­al­ize opi­ate med­i­ca­tions can have pro­found ab­nor­mal­i­ties for so­ci­ety.”

Gary Pal­man said he felt so bad that he left his spe­cialty and now prac­tices anes­the­si­ol­ogy. He wishes his for­mer col­leagues in pain man­age­ment would rec­og­nize an obli­ga­tion “to ob­jec­tively see if a drug is work­ing, and if it isn’t, to take it away.”

It re­mains eas­ier to hide heroin’s im­pact in a place such as Fal­mouth than in a big city. Young peo­ple lose jobs, drop out of col­lege, get evicted from apart­ments, but “their par­ents help them out,” Tolan said.

Three lo­cal ad­dicts de­scribed how

their par­ents stepped in to pre­vent the state from tak­ing their young chil­dren away. In Fal­mouth, even af­ter a young ad­dict in­ten­tion­ally set his par­ents’ house ablaze, the par­ents wouldn’t let him talk to po­lice.

“Even though he burned their house down,” the chief said, still amazed months later.

“Peo­ple we know al­ways looked away when heroin was men­tioned, be­cause it’s as­so­ci­ated with the ghetto and the un­der­class,” David’s mother re­called. “In these af­flu­ent com­mu­ni­ties, achieve­ment and suc­cess are para­mount. If you don’t achieve, it’s ‘you had all these ad­van­tages and didn’t do any­thing with it.’ There’s not a lot of tol­er­ance of kids who are dif­fer­ent. If you’re not cut from that cloth, it’s a hard place, so you find friends who are like you, and you find huge re­lief in leav­ing the world.”

The night af­ter David died, Michael slept in that same bed. In the morn­ing, his mother knocked on the door, seek­ing help plan­ning David’s fu­neral. No an­swer.

She stepped in­side and saw her son ly­ing rigid, his arms above his head. His breath­ing was la­bored, raspy. She screamed.

Kevin called 911, again. A physi­cian who was train­ing am­bu­lance per­son­nel nearby re­sponded and ad­min­is­tered Nar­can, which re­v­erses the ef­fects of an over­dose. Port­land’s public health depart­ment of­fers ad­dicts free Nar­can kits, but the city is not per­mit­ted to use fed­eral or state money for Nar­can; its sup­ply is pri­vately do­nated.

Po­lice found a heroin packet in Michael’s room. He spent the rest of the day in in­ten­sive care, his sur­vival in doubt. The fam­ily camped out in the hos­pi­tal, mak­ing calls about David’s fu­neral while they awaited word of Michael’s fate.

On the morn­ing af­ter David died, Michael had asked a friend, “Wouldn’t it just be eas­ier to die young and not have to see your loved ones die?”

That night, Michael had called his old high school friend and dealer, the same man David had been to see two nights ear­lier.

“Do you re­ally want that stuff?” the dealer asked. “It’s the same stuff that killed David.”

The stuff was heroin cut with fen­tanyl, an opi­ate that in its le­gal, pre­scrip­tion form is used to treat post-surgery pain. “Peo­ple think they’re us­ing heroin, and it turns out to be fen­tanyl,” said Jamie Guer­rette, the as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral in Maine who runs the state’s drug task force. “We’re mak­ing seizures where users and even sellers be­lieve it’s heroin, and it’s ac­tu­ally a mix that’s po­ten­tially 30 to 50 times more po­tent.”

Fen­tanyl was found in 11 of Maine’s 57 heroin over­dose deaths last year, ac­cord­ing to Mar­cella Sorg, an epi­demi­ol­o­gist who is a con­sul­tant to the state on drug is­sues. In its pow­dery, syn­thetic, illegal form, fen­tanyl has been show­ing up in over­doses around the coun­try.

When ad­dicts un­wit­tingly in­gest heroin laced with fen­tanyl, they con­sume a vastly more in­tense dose than they had an­tic­i­pated. Heroin used to reach Maine in sin­gle-dose “tick­ets;” now, the drug pri­mar­ily ar­rives in “fin­gers,” 10-gram plas­tic-wrapped cylin­ders that are “cut,” or di­luted, lo­cally.

Michael didn’t be­lieve the heroin would hurt him be­cause he never shot up; he thought snort­ing was some­how safer. He used it that night, by him­self.

Three days af­ter Michael got out of the hos­pi­tal — one day af­ter David’s fu­neral — Kevin and Nancy, two other rel­a­tives, and four of Michael’s friends sur­rounded him and read letters they had writ­ten. Within a minute, Michael agreed to be taken to re­hab. Danzig, the coun­selor, took the bag they had packed and flew Michael to a Florida trauma cen­ter. He stayed in re­hab for two months. At the end of the pro­gram, he asked to stay another month.

The in­ter­ven­tion cost $5,000; the treat­ment, $25,000. In­sur­ance cov­ered none of it.

Six months later, so far, so good, his fam­ily says.

“I re­al­ize I’m grasp­ing at straws,” Kevin said, “but we like to think David saved Michael’s life.”

David’s par­ents de­cided they had to tell it straight. They owed him that. They wrote his obit­u­ary, pub­lished in the lo­cal pa­pers: “David Paul McCarthy, 29, died of a drug over­dose on Fri­day, Oct. 17, 2014, los­ing a long-fought bat­tle with drug ad­dic­tion — a chal­lenge faced by many fam­i­lies to­day.”

The deal­ers in the McCarthy case have not been ar­rested; in­ves­ti­ga­tions are on­go­ing. Pros­e­cu­tors and po­lice say they are not ea­ger to im­prison ad­dicts who sell drugs — they would rather get those peo­ple into treat­ment and en­list their help in go­ing af­ter deal­ers who bring heroin into the state.

“If you work over­dose deaths, then you’re not work­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion above that,” said Perry, the pros­e­cu­tor. “Over­dose deaths are a pri­or­ity be­cause of the mag­ni­tude, the im­pact of a death, and be­cause they’ll lead us to the groups that are caus­ing the dev­as­ta­tion.

“This is not some­thing we’re go­ing to ar­rest our way out of. We need fam­i­lies to get the prob­lem out of the shad­ows.”

On a glo­ri­ous fall day, 400 peo­ple packed the Epis­co­pal Church of St. Mary. A hun­dred more stood out­side, although the ser­vice was not broad­cast out­side the build­ing. They were peo­ple the McCarthys hadn’t ex­pected to come. They were, David’s mother said, “peo­ple with se­crets, se­crets like ours.”

“The WASP-y Yan­kees of Fal­mouth, gen­er­a­tions of blond, blue-eyed so­cial x-rays, they all came,” Ire­land re­called. “These are the peo­ple I thought were so snooty. I mean, af­ter we got di­vorced, I over­heard a woman say they didn’t want their daugh­ter to go with David be­cause we were di­vorced. But those same kind of peo­ple, af­ter he died, came to my door with soup and just hugged me and said, ‘You were a good mother.’

“It was a huge out­pour­ing of love and sym­pa­thy and peo­ple say­ing, ‘It was so brave and good of you to put that in the pa­per.’ ‘We’re so glad you called it what it is.’ ”

TOP: David McCarthy’s black Lab, Kima, in the room where he died of a heroin over­dose in Oc­to­ber. ABOVE LEFT: David, cen­ter, with fa­ther Kev­inMcCarthy and step­mother Nan­cyMcCarthy. ABOVE RIGHT: Anne Ire­land, David’s mother.

NIKKI KAHN/THE WASHINGTON POST

WEST BATH, ME – JUNE 16: Anne Ire­land, an artist whose son, David died of an heroin over­dose, is pho­tographed at her home in West Bath, Maine, on Tues­day, June 16, 2015. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/ TheWash­ing­ton Post)

LINDA DAVID­SON/THE WASHINGTON POST

Ter­ryWalsh, the deputy fire chief in Port­land, Maine, checks on an 18-year-old man who may have over­dosed on heroin July 4.

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