CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – After two decades of drug use and two years in jail, Brandy Morris-Hafner rejoices in the fact that she's come full circle, and enjoyed 11 years of sobriety.
- Ohio’s opioid epidemic is the focus of a new book by two Ohio University professors who went around the state and heard first person accounts from people and families affected by the issue.
- The authors, Daniel Skinner and Berkeley Franz traveled to 22 Ohio counties and chronicled 50 stories in there book “Not Far From Me.”
- Both Skinner and Berkeley say they hope the book will spark a conversation and put a personal face on addiction.
Her battle began as a teenager when she started using and selling marijuana to help ease the pain.
“I was always neglected I guess. So when you sell drugs you have all this power, people need you. They need your product. But to a 15-16-year-old, they needed me, and that felt good,” says Morris-Hafner.
Eventually, her addiction led to heroin, two stints in jail and five years apart from her three children.
“I had missed them so much, and I had so much guilt and shame, for putting them in the situation that they were put in, that I wanted, I wanted to die,” says Morris-Hafner.
Brandy's story is one of the dozens included in the book, “Not Far From Me,” written by co-authors and Ohio University Professors Daniel Skinner and Berkeley Franz.
The two visited 22 Ohio counties over the last couple of years and created a narrative that's raw, real, and doesn't promote any type of false hope.
“We wanted to make sure that stories weren't missed, that the storytelling around opioids was more comprehensive, and captured extensively what was going on in Ohio communities and places that weren't getting as much attention,” says Skinner.
“Places like Portsmouth and Dayton certainly have got lots of attention because they've got the most overdose deaths, but Ohio is one of the worst in the country, it's usually number two. Certainly is a kind of ground zero for the opioid epidemic,” says Franz.
Brandy didn't want to become just another statistic, so she went back to school, earned two degrees, for the last three years has worked for the Ross County Sheriff's Office.
She leads the Day Reporting Center, which provides a sentencing alternative for first-time and non-violent offenders to the criminal justice system in Ross County.
She hopes her story will help motivate others across the state who are going through the same struggle.
“I don't care how many numbers you have behind your name, I don't care how many tattoo's you have, you can make it and you can be anything that you want to be,” says Morris-Hafner.
“Not Far From Me” can be found at most major book retailers.