Addiction...It can happen to anyone

Page 1



May 5, 2021

410-827-9312 • •




Brian Gearhart (410) 310-5179

Stevensville $439,000




Addiction... It can happen to anyone

Sean Gleason, lifelong local, shares his story of addiction... and recovery


Real Bakers… Real Biscuits

Bacon, Egg and Hardee’s Cheese Biscuit

Buy One (1) Get One (1) FREE Sausage & Egg Biscuit

Buy One (1) Get One (1) FREE Sausage & Egg Biscuit

One (1) offer per visit. Expires December 31, 2018

One (1) offer per visit. Expires December 31, 2018

Real Bakers… Real Biscuits

Real Bakers… Real Biscuits

Lisa Sanger Lynch (443) 497-2509

Centreville $699,000

L I S T W I T H T H E M I D S H O R E Buy ’ S One # 1(1) Get R One EHardee’s A(1)LFREE E SSausage TAT &EEggFBiscuit IRM

Buy 1, Get 1

FREE Hardee’s

Buy One (1) Get One (1) FREE Sausage & Egg Biscuit

One (1) offer per visit. Expires December 31, 2018

One (1) offer per visit. Expires December 31, 2018

Real Bakers… Real Biscuits

Real Bakers… Real Biscuits Offer valid thru 5/20/21 at participating restaurants. Offer valid during regular breakfast hours. 1 offer per visit.

Bev Sanger Sloane (410) 310-2345

Queenstown $795,000

Kelly Dahle (410) 490-1157 Hardee’s

Chestertown $399,000

Buy One (1) Get One (1) FREE Sausage & Egg Biscuit

w w w. b e n s o n a n d m a n g o l d . c o m One (1) offer per visit. Expires December 31, 2018

RED APPLE PLAZA | CHESTER, MD | (410) 643-3033

Real Bakers… Real Biscuits

Not valid with any other offer, discount or combo. Please present and surrender coupon before ordering. Only original Hardee’s coupon excepted. Customer may pay any sales tax due. CashOne value of 1¢.(1) ©2013 Hardee’s Restaurants LLC. Buy (1)1/100 Get One FREE Sausage & Egg Biscuit All rights reserved. One (1) offer per visit. Expires December 31, 2018


Real Bakers… Real Biscuits










Addiction... It can happen to anyone Sean Gleason, lifelong local, shares his story of addiction... and recovery By Marcus Hoffman



oday, Sean Gleason is a local small business owner, father, and active member of the community. Before being the man he is today, Sean spent decades battling addiction and going in and out of jail. I had the opportunity to sit down with Sean to learn more about the causes of addiction, what life as an addict is like, and how anyone can turn their lives around and get clean.

I also got the chance to talk to State’s Attorney Lance Richadson and Anne Arundel Counseling Director Dr. Rebecca McKee about drug use prevention and the recent rise of addiction in Maryland. With a recent spike in addiction rates brought on by the coronavirus and the lockdown, it’s more important than ever to see inspiring stories like that of Sean. As Sean himself says, “If they want to, with a little bit of support from the people around them, any addict can begin recovery.” Sean, a lifelong local, says that his childhood was “actually really good.” He even said he was “privileged.” His father was well off financially, and by the young age of 34, his dad was able

to retire and buy a bar. Family members and bar patrons would sometimes give Sean alcohol. “Back in the day it wasn’t unacceptable to let a child drink... everyone thought it was funny,” he explained to me. “Nobody realized how much damage drinking at such a young age could do.” As Sean grew older, his idyllic childhood seemed to be coming to an end. In ‘79, his parents split up. “The life I had been used to was gone,” he explained to me. “I didn’t know how to deal with it, but I had already drank before, so I started using substances to deal with my emotions.” For Sean things escalated very quickly. First he was drinking, then he was smoking marijuana, and within a year he graduated to

selling marijuana to fund his new habits; all by the age of 12. “Looking back, at first I didn’t so much get off on the drugs or the alcohol as much as I did the lifestyle and atmosphere. I always had something going on; life was always a party.” Sean says the lifestyle he was leading destroyed his academic life and grades. During this period of time, he also began to run into legal troubles, including drug possession and assaulting a crossing guard. As a young teen, fed up with his life in Maryland, he decided he wanted to move somewhere far away. He and a friend decided to steal his friend’s mother’s car. He was arrested on his way in Georgia.

“Nobody realized how much damage drinking at such a young age could do.” Story runs on pages 15-20

Addiction... It can happen to anyone Sean Gleason’s road to recovery

Obsessed with drugs and partying, Sean dropped out of school at 16. At this point, “things went from fun, to not so much fun, to just no fun at all.” Using drugs became the center of Sean’s focus, as opposed to partying. “It didn’t matter what substance it was; I always just wanted more. I was the guy at the party who would leave to go get more beer while everyone else was finishing up.”

Sean and his daughter

“Having a daughter changed me. I thought I knew what shame was. I thought I understood the vicious cycle of shame... until I used while having a daughter. You can’t be a good father and use.”

Around age 17, Sean tried cocaine for the first time. “It quickly became my favorite,” he told me. “After that, coke was always in the background, even when I did other stuff. I always wanted coke.” Sean doesn’t remember exactly when, but at some point he switched over from snorting cocaine to smoking crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is faster acting, stronger, more danger-

Spring is Here! SPRING CAR CARE

Fix Your Car with People You Know, Service You Trust!

3Tires 3 Hoses and Belts 3 Brakes 3 Fluids 3 Wiper Blades 3 AC 3 Radiator 3 Battery Family Owned & Island Imports Operated Since 1998 Automotive, Inc. Automotive Service & Repairs

“Our Customers Are The Most Important Part of Our Business” 107 St. Claire Place (Near Big Bats) - Stevensville


ous, and often cheaper than regular powdered cocaine. Over time, Sean’s criminal record continued to grow. Drug possessions, DWI’s, an assault charge here and there. “I always blamed somebody or something else. It never occurred to me that it was my fault that I was in this position. If I had just left five minutes earlier they wouldn’t have pulled me over; the cops have a beef with me; the judge was an asshole; this prohibition officer has it out for me; if only my parents didn’t split up... I blamed every single person and thing I could think of... except for myself.” As Sean continued to use drugs and drink heavily, his life continued to fall apart. He spent decades of his life in drunken and drug-induced stupors. “Things went from fun all the time, to not

so much fun, to no fun at all. At first, I would have rather died than stop using. But then I got to the point where I would rather die than keep using....” In the early 2000’s, Sean was at the lowest of lows. He had an old friend he used to party with who he heard that after years of using was able to get clean. Desperate for help, Sean reached out to his old friend to figure out just how he did it. Sean’s friend told him that he had stopped using with the help of Narcotics Anonymous (NA). NA is a group where addicts from a wide array of backgrounds come together to support one another. There was an NA meeting that very night, and Sean’s friend invited him to come and told him that another member of the group could give Sean a ride. Next thing Sean knew, a

“I blamed every single person and thing I could think of... except for myself.” Story runs on pages 15-20

Sean says this single meeting completely changed his outlook on life. Instead of focusing on the seemingly impossible task of never abusing substances again, Sean now focused on getting through each day and staying clean. complete stranger picked him up in his car. “By the time we got out of my neighborhood, I realized he understood me, that we had been through a lot of similar stuff.” Even though he felt a connection to the man who had given him a ride, Sean still felt uncomfortable in the meeting. “I didn’t look up; I stared straight down at the floor. I didn’t understand where I was, and I felt defeated.” As Sean sat in the meeting, as uncomfortable as he was, he became inspired. “I remember hearing this big dude screaming ‘one day at a time, you never have to use again!’...That never dawned on me. The idea of never using again freaked me out; it seemed insurmountable. Staying clean for one day? That was something I thought I could do. I know it seems obvious, but someone had to tell me.” Sean says this single meeting completely changed his outlook on life. Instead of focusing on the seemingly impossible task of never abusing substances again, Sean now focused on getting through each day and staying clean. He also received support from other members of the NA group, each of them a recovering addict. Soon Sean found himself going from fighting to surviving to thriving. He even found himself a nice job at Washington Gas in D.C. After five years of being heavily involved in NA, Sean left. He says he ran into thorny relationship issues with a fellow member of the group. Looking back, Sean says this was a huge mistake. “When you stop going to meetings regularly, you lose a lot of support. You also stop seeing others slip up. When you go to NA regularly, you see others who leave, and they often end

up coming back in a terrible state... addicted again. It is very humbling. And the moment I stopped going, I stopped seeing that cycle. NA was treating the disease. The moment I stopped treating it, it started coming back. I think I was doing the same thing I always did, not taking any responsibility for my addictions.” Two years later, now over seven years sober, Sean traveled to Tampa to visit a friend. While they were near the beach, they witnessed a massive cabin cruiser explosion. Sean and his friends were among the first on the scene. “It looked like it was straight out of Lethal Weapon. There were severed limbs; people went flying.” Suddenly, Sean found himself performing medical triage. When Sean saw that there were children injured in the explosion, he couldn’t handle it. Sean was interviewed on the evening news about the explosion. Another friend, who was in New Orleans, saw the broadcast, recognized Sean and invited him to New Orleans. Sean flew to the party city of New Orleans to meet up with his friend. After all the stress and excitement of Tampa, Sean decided, after seven years of sobriety, to have a beer at a bar. “It felt amazing,” Sean told me. “It felt like seven and a half years of pressure and all the tensions were released.” Sean ended up staying out drinking till 4AM, going from bar to bar, racking up 100’s of dollars in bar tabs. “Someone who isn’t an addict can go to a bar and enjoy a beer or two; addicts can’t. We always want more and more and more.” After drinking again for the first time in seven years, Sean quickly returned to his old ways. He soon returned to drugs and lost

his job at Washington Gas. “I didn’t care anymore. Using was far more important to me than my career.” Soon after falling back into his old lifestyle, Sean started dating a girl who had an opiate prescription. “I had used opiates, maybe once or twice back before I had gotten clean. They always made me feel sick. I guess I finally figured out how to push through that sick feeling to enjoy them.” Next thing Sean knew, he was using opiates nearly everyday. Soon his relationship ended and Sean found himself going through opiate withdrawal. He knew other people who were us-

ing heroin. Desperate for his next fix, Sean decided to try it. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I had known the hells of addiction, but until I did heroin, I had no idea just how bad it could be. How strong that need could become for me.” Sean would be strung out on heroin for three years. He says he spent a lot of those three years in bad parts of Baltimore “with a needle in his neck.” Heroin, which is dangerous in and of itself, is often cut with other, more powerful drugs like fentanyl. Fentanyl is so deadly you can overdose from micrograms of it. Story runs on pages 15-20

Introducing the newest member of our team Jonathan “Jay” Fullah,

M.A., Psychology Associate

Jay is currently accepting new therapy clients (age 12 and older) via telehealth. He accepts United Healthcare, Medicare, and (expected this summer) Carefirst BCBS. Learn more about Jay or schedule an appointment at 410-604-0226 Jay earned his masters degree in Counseling Psychology at Bowie State. He is a Maryland board-registered psychology associate practicing under the supervision of our Director, Dr. Catherine Smithmyer, a licensed psychologist.

“It was like playing Russian Roulette. You go to the city to use, and you don’t even know if you’ll come out alive. I knew that, and I still kept going back. That is just how powerful addiction is.” Sean would spend the next several years on and off drugs. He would go to rehab, get clean, and soon after find himself using again. He was seemingly stuck in an endless cycle of drug abuse. He says that having a child a few years ago is what led him to getting clean for good. “Having a daughter changed me. I thought I knew what shame was. I thought I understood the vicious cycle of shame... until I used while having a daughter. You can’t be a good father and use.” Sean remains heavily involved in NA and the local community. He has sponsored 6 or 7 people, and says that the sponsorship program has helped him stay clean, “There’s something in the air when you’re around other addicts... you can feel the love and understanding we have for one another.” The final step in NA’s 12 steps is to spread the message you have learned in NA to others, and Sean has taken this to heart. He says he has gotten a lot of joy holding meetings in the local jail.

Unfortunately, the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown caused many local NA meetings to close down. “I couldn’t imagine trying to get clean around March of last year. I know some people who did, but I know a lot more who failed.” Sean says that prior to the pandemic, one of the local groups often had nearly 100 people in attendance. Now, many of those recovering addicts are forced to go through the pains of addiction alone. The very week we sat down and spoke, he says that he knows addicts who died just in that last week. Now a father, small business owner, and active member of the community, Sean says he is happier now than he ever could have been on drugs. Despite all the progress he has made and the years of sobriety, Sean says he will always be an addict. “Do I want to use drugs right now? Hell no!” Sean told me. “But I would love to be high.” Sean says that he hopes others might hear his story and be inspired to change their ways. “I used for a long, long time, and while I had a few slip ups, I was able to get back on the right track. If they really want to, I believe any addict has the potential to stop using and get clean.”

The Addiction Crisis through the Eyes of a Substance Abuse Counselor

When it comes to helping addiction, perhaps no field is as important as the mental health field. I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Rebecca McKee, the director of Anne Arundel Counseling. Anne Arundel Counseling currently has two locations in Queen Anne’s County, one in Centreville and one on Kent Island. You can learn more about them at their website http://www.annearundelcounseling. com.

How did you get into counselling and drug counseling in particular? I started out as a school teacher before becoming a guidance counselor. From there, I transitioned to substance abuse before eventually becoming the Director of Anne Arundel Counseling. The transition from counseling to substance abuse made a lot of sense. Addiction and mental health issues often go hand in hand. What goes into healing an addict? It varies from person to person, and it is multifaceted. The main components are lifestyle changes and addressing mental health issues. Is helping people with addiction emotionally difficult? No. I wouldn’t say helping them is difficult. What is difficult is seeing someone you’re working with, someone who might have been sober for months, relapsing. That can be very difficult to watch. Has the nature of addiction changed? Yes. Social media and the internet have made getting drugs easier than ever. How often do you have success with treatments? For outpatient treatment not as much as we would hope. Someone who overcomes an addiction on average will “slip up” and start using again 7 times before they finally succeed. And that’s just among those who succeed. We typically see about 15-20 percent of those in outpatient treatment succeed. Keep in mind that those are just outpatient numbers, the number for inpatient treatment like rehabilitation facilities is generally better. What is something lots of people misunderstand about addiction? It might sound a little cliche, but people need to know that addiction can affect anyone. It doesn’t matter what sort of group you are part of, what your socioeconomic status is or where you come from.

The final step in NA’s 12 steps is to spread the message you have learned in NA to others, and Sean has taken this to heart.

Story runs on pages 15-20


? ?

Prescription painkillers are killing more people than car accidents and homicides combined.




Steele Dilling (owner) has been servicing the Eastern Shore for 35 years and counting!! When experience matters

Payments as low as




“Before It’s Too Late!” SUPPORTED BY THE OPIOID OPERATIONAL COMMAND CENTER. The views presented here are those of the grantee organization, QACPS, and not necessarily those of the OOCC, its Executive Director, or its staff.

$1,000 OFF INSTALLATION OF NEW SYSTEM Call for details Not valid with any other offer. Exp. 5/31/21.


Lic# MD MASTER 01-4795

NOW HIRING Installers & Service Techs



$25 OFF

$300 OFF



Call for details. Not valid with any other offer. Call for details. Not valid with any other offer. Must be presented at time of service. Must be presented at time of service. Exp. 5/31/21. Exp. 5/31/21.


The Addiction Crisis through the Eyes of Our State’s Attorney When we think about the “frontline” of the opiate crisis, many of us might think of drug counselors, EMT’s and police officers. Another important role in fighting addiction is the State’s Attorney, who is in charge of the state’s prosecution for drug crimes. Our county’s State’s Attorney Lance Richardson has served our county for over a decade and was actually once childhood friends with Sean. I had the chance to talk with him to learn a little more about his role in fighting addiction. Is there a particular story of addiction that has remained with you over the years? I have been practicing law for about 25 years now. When I began practicing back in 1996, crack cocaine was the drug causing the huge epidemic. Generally no one was dying from crack cocaine, but there were plenty of hard working people who would take their paycheck the moment they received it and go buy crack. It was straight from hell, so addictive. Eventually those who were addicted would sell everything of value that they owned to feed their addiction. The next step typically would then be to steal from their family and friends, and then the final downward spiral would be to start burglarizing homes or other forms of theft because the addiction was too expensive to fund otherwise. I was a public defender my first seven years of practice. I had one case charged as murder that went to trial. My client, Robert, was a decent guy but suffering from a horrible addiction to crack cocaine. He went to purchase crack cocaine from a guy named Zack, but he didn’t have any money so he received the product and then fled into his home without paying. Zack pursued him into the home, and Robert brandished a shotgun. Zack made a move towards Robert so Robert shot Zack in the face with the shotgun, killing him. The jury found it was an imperfect self defense so the verdict was manslaughter and not murder. Robert was sentenced to 10 years in prison. That case was an illustration of the addictive power of crack cocaine and how it destroyed this man’s life. Crack dealers are typically ruthless and motivated by greed. I had one kingpin dealer who ended up being sentenced to 100 years after he was convicted of multiple distribution cases. The judge had no sympathy for the dealers who were ruining so many lives. What have you seen change in this area in regards to addiction since you began your career? The recent trend for the last decade or so has been opioid addiction. I believe the statistics show that over-prescribing oxycodone was the genesis of this epidemic. People became addicted to oxy pills, but they were regulated and controlled by pharmacies and difficult to obtain. Pharmacies are adept at preventing prescription fraud so addicts turned to heroin. Many people started out snorting heroin. This was a similar high to oxycodone, and heroin became readily available on the streets of Baltimore and all major cities. It spread everywhere even to rural areas like Queen Anne’s County. When there is a demand and easy money to be made, people will step up and take advantage of the situation. So those people who started out snorting heroin then began to use it intravenously. What is most frustrating for you as you deal with those people with addictions? The most frustrating aspect of addiction cases is that there is a lack of quality long term rehabilitation facilities. Twenty-one days is not enough time for a person battling heroin addiction. Unfortunately the jails have turned into our rehab facilities, but they don’t provide treatment. They simply protect the addict from him or herself while they are incarcerated. Recently I have seen multiple defendants, even after serving fairly lengthy sentences, get released and overdose that same day. So incarceration doesn’t cure anyone. Addiction is a disease and typically requires long term treatment which we sorely lack across the state and country, especially for people of limited financial resources. What substance causes the most problems in our community? Has it changed? The substance that is now causing the most problems is fentanyl. It is mixed with heroin, and it is the substance that is killing people in record numbers. The users and addicts purchase heroin, but there are no quality controls on the street. So heroin and even cocaine in some instances are mixed with

fentanyl, and the user ends up dying from this highly toxic drug mix. A tiny quantity is all that it takes to be lethal. Do you believe the addiction problem in our county is growing worse or showing signs of abating? Presently I have seen the addiction problem getting worse. We have had an upswing in fatal overdoses in Queen Anne’s County since the end of 2020 into 2021. My personal belief is that the stress and difficulties associated with the pandemic have caused many people to seek an escape whether it is alcohol or drugs, and the result is many tragic fatal overdoses. Is there anything that you think we should be doing as a community to cut down on drug addiction? The community can provide tips to combat drug dealing to our drug task force. These tips can be anonymous: 410-758-TIPS (8477). Also parents need to start preaching to their children at an early age about being assertive and not being the kid who is willing to try whatever their peers offer. It starts in the home... the difficult talks about substance abuse, especially when there is a family history of addiction. Story runs on pages 15-20

Dentistry Kids Love and Parents Trust!

Narcotics Anonymous was founded nearly one hundred years ago to help addicts get and stay clean. Inspired by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, NA has their own unique twelve step program. The twelve steps are:


PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY Treating Children & Adolescents Ages 0-18

Margaret C. McGrath, DMD, MPH Megan Golia, DDS Diplomate, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry

160 Sallitt Drive, Suite 106 Stevensville, MD 21666 410-604-2211

We Deliver to Stevensville, Chester & Grasonville!

Carini’s 410-604-2501

We Have Gluten Free

Pizza, Subs & Pasta

356 Romancoke Road, Rt. 8, Stevensville Next to Bay Bridge Airport DELIVERY • EAT IN • CARRY OUT

All Major Credit Cards Accepted

Prices and Specials subject to change without notice.

Open 7 Days a Week • Sunday to Thursday 11am to 9pm, Friday & Saturday 11am to 10pm

$3 OFF Any 2 Dinners 2 Xtra Large One Topping PIZZAS

2 Xtra Large Cheese Pizzas & 20 Wings

$23.99 $35.95 2 Liters Soda

5 Expires May 31, 2021


Expires May 31, 2021

off any order over $50 Not valid with any other offers, or with 15% off entire check. Expires May 31, 2021

1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Area NA Meetings: 606 Dominion Road Chester, MD 21619 Wednesdays, 7:30pm Immanuel United Methodist Church 102 Schoolhouse Lane Grasonville, MD 21638 VENUE TEMPORARILY CLOSED Meeting Virtually Thursday, 7:30pm Visit for information and area meetings.

Pandemic and the addiction. Since the beginning of the pandemic and the lockdown, overdoses and deaths have increased in our state. During the first 9 months of 2020, nearly 15 percent more people died of overdoses than they did during the same time period the year before. During this nine month period, there was also a spike in individuals seeking mental health treatment even though it became more difficult to receive mental healthcare.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.