NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WYTV) – The drug problem in the Valley is serious, more people are using drugs, becoming addicted and fatally overdosing.
Local Youngstown poet and author Dennis Zitello Jr. has been clean for two years and four months and is sharing his story.
He is celebrating the release of his new book, In These Streets, which talks about his battle with drug addiction.
“Bureaucracy, hypocrisy, leads to mediocrity. For this, we will crumble, fumble, stumble,” Zitello said.
He said he wrote the book to inspire others to seek recovery.
“I’ve flat-lined three times, overdosed five and in that time, you’ve got a lot of time to think, obviously. You know, you could either go negative or positive with it,” he said.
Zitello said the book is about the darkness of addiction and the light of recovery.
“It affects everybody in every community. It doesn’t matter, you could be born in the hood, you could be born okay in the suburbs, you could be born in the country. It don’t matter no more man, it’s everywhere,” he said.
Zitello believes prevention needs to start early.
“There needs to be a class in school for kids about drugs. Not, you know, like an English class, like a math class, you need to have drug class,” he added.
Liliana Brewer agrees. She and her daughter were at the Newton Falls Walk Against Heroin Saturday. They walked in honor of her daughter’s father, who died of an overdose.
Brewer is from West Virginia, she’s impressed by all the recovery support in Ohio.
“Unfortunately, West Virginia doesn’t have recovery like this area does. Recovery is very important in this area and that’s one of the main reasons I moved here,” Brewer said.
She also said the walk is one way she can keep her daughter’s father’s memory alive.
“I think it’s important to come out and support him when we have things like this to support recovery, and to let Lily [her daughter] know that recovery’s important and that daddy didn’t die in vain,” Brewer said.