Two Addiction Counselors Die Of Overdose At Recovery Facility

By Keri Blakinger 05/30/17

The counselors were found by residents in recovery at the halfway house.

Baggies of heroin marked with a Superman logo and a Danger logo
Baggies marked with a Superman logo and the Danger logo were found in the counselors' rooms. Photo via YouTube

In a terrifying testament to the strength of the opioid epidemic sweeping through the Philadelphia area, two drug counselors at a halfway house died of overdoses this month after shooting up a deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl. 

The pair—who authorities did not immediately identify—were found passed out in their rooms on the afternoon of May 21 at the Freedom Ridge Recovery Lodge, surrounded by needles and empty baggies, according to USA Today

“They were found by the other residents,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan told NBC News. “They came over to get their programming and medications, and found the bodies.”

One of the residents doled out a dose of the anti-overdose drug Narcan to one of the counselors, but was unable to revive the man. 

One of the counselors lived in the West Brandywine Township home’s basement, while the other lived on an upstairs floor. The only identifying information authorities gave out were the victims' ages: 24 and 33. They were both pronounced dead at the scene. 

The owners of the halfway house, which treats just six men, weren’t home at the time of the disturbing discovery. “We were told by the patients they were out of state,” DA Hogan said. “We notified them and said you’d better get back here.” 

Preliminary toxicology testing showed a combination of heroin and fentanyl, and authorities are now trying to track down the source of the deadly drugs. "Anybody who sees baggies in the area with the Superman or Danger logo must be warned away to stay away from those drugs," Hogan said in a statement. "They appear to be heroin laced with fentanyl and are likely to kill anybody who uses them."

Hogan highlighted the tragedy as the latest example of the rising tide of the opioid epidemic. "The staff members in charge of supervising recovering addicts succumbed to their own addiction and died of opioid overdoses," Hogan said. "Opioids are a monster that is slowly consuming our population."

The pair of overdoses come on the heels of more tragedy in the Philadelphia-area recovery community. 

Less than a week earlier, a safe injection advocate and the co-founder of a drug treatment program both died of overdoses, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.