Pastor Protests 'Heroin Alley' With Message To Community

By Victoria Kim 08/02/17

The Ohio man's efforts are just a part of other community initiatives to "fight" heroin in Butler County.

Pastor Dennis Matheny
Pastor Dennis Matheny sitting outside with his "No Drugs Today" sign. Photo via YouTube

A resident of Hamilton, Ohio is trying to turn around the growing heroin problem in his community with a simple act of protest—greeting passerby with a large cardboard sign outside that reads, "No Drugs Today."

Pastor Dennis Matheny, 69, says the drug problem has become especially bad on his street, Parkamo Avenue, that it's earned the nickname "Heroin Alley."

"It used to be a great neighborhood and now heroin has just about destroyed it," said the grandfather. "I've seen people die (on their back porch) and I have seen them overdose right here on the corner and have found needles right here on the corner, and have had to pick them up."

On Monday (July 31) Matheny sat outside with the sign, warning people in the area to buy, sell, or use heroin that he's no longer in the mood to stand idly by. His granddaughter, Sarah Houston, says neighbors have been "really supportive."

Apparently Matheny and Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit will join forces to keep the momentum going. "I think it is great," Bucheit told the Journal-News. "He cares about this neighborhood, and he and I and some neighbors got together and I think we have a good plan moving forward. We are going to sit down coming up later this week and we are going to clean this neighborhood up."

Butler County is contending with a larger heroin problem. In 2014, the number of drug overdose deaths surpassed natural deaths for the first time in cases received by the Butler County Coroner's Office.

County Coroner Dr. Lisa Mannix wrote an article for the Journal-News in March 2016, saying that the number of fatal heroin overdoses in Butler County has "exploded" since her first year on the job in 2012.

"We have a rampant killer in our community," Mannix wrote.

She continued: "Heroin does not discriminate. I have been called to every corner of Butler County for heroin-related deaths...The Coroner's Office is the last stop on a very bad journey for the person addicted to heroin. But the impact of that journey continues for those around that person who have lost a daughter, a brother, a mother, father or son."

Matheny's efforts are just a part of other community initiatives to "fight" heroin in Butler County. Let's Face Heroin Butler County offers information about local 12-step meetings, mental health support, recovery resources, counseling services, and a "heroin helpline." 

Its website also shares the stories of Ohioans affected by the drug crisis.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr