Mother Reunites With Family After Overcoming Addiction

Christmas will come early for Dixie Callan.

Callan, 25, will get her sons back after the two were put in foster care by Child Protective Services nearly a year ago.

Callan remembers the day she and her boyfriend fought and the police came to the house. Then came drug tests and home visits and finally the day when the social worker told her to pack up clothes for Jayse, 2, and Joseph, 8.

“I remember putting in a teddy bear my grandma gave me into the suitcase,” Callan said.

Callan, who was addicted to methamphetamine, said it took her months to have the confidence to get help.

Her life has not been easy. She had a baby at 16. Her mother committed suicide when she was 17. She was in abusive relationships. Her grandmother paid her bills.

When a former boyfriend pressured her to take drugs, she did.

But today, Callan is drug-free and confident.

She was one of 175 women accepted into Step2 this year.  Started in 1986, the Reno nonprofit provides treatment for chemically dependent women and their families. It includes addiction recovery, counseling and housing.

Step2 said recent state data show that approximately one in five women in Northern Nevada has a substance-abuse problem.

The program has a 60 percent rehabilitation success rate; similar programs across the country average a 17 percent success rate.

“Step2’s success is directly related to the length of the program and the wonderful community support,” said CEO Diaz Dixon. “We could not provide what we have without the generosity of this community.”

After living in Step2’s group home, Callan moved into one of 23 one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages run by the program.

Donations pay for the low-rent apartment’s furniture, which Callan can keep when she eventually moves out on her own.

“I’m so different than I was when I got here,” said Callan. “I love myself now.”

It was something that took counseling and the support from Step2.

Over the past two months, she has had overnight visits with her sons.  She is working full time and wants to go back to school to become a special education teacher.

But for now, the greatest present this holiday season is spending it with her children.

“It means so much to have my kids with me,” she said. In the next few weeks, her sons, who were separated in two foster homes, will permanently move back in with Callan.

She said she is looking forward to starting traditions and being a mom.

“Just cooking breakfast and watching a movie are things I’m looking forward to,” she said. “I know I can take care of myself and my kids, now.”

Angel Warrior, Daris Patrick Fent

The heartbreak that Melissa Dye and her surviving children have endured because of Daris’ senseless death has created an unstoppable force. Melissa still struggles with the loss of her son, but she is also determined to try to save someone else’s child.

Daris Patrick Fent isn’t the stereotypical drug user.  ” I am a Marine, I am meant to save lives, be proud of that,” said Daris to his mother, Melissa Dye.  The best way to describe Daris in the early stages of addiction is that he was able to function when after his doctor in the Military prescribed him Oxycontin after a minor injury.  Daris was not just a  manly Marine; he was a sensitive musician too.  If Daris tried something he was good at it.  He was just that kind of young man.



screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-6-44-42-pmNo one in his family, nor the Marines noticed any signs of drug use until the pain meds he was getting from the doctor stopped coming.  Daris like so many others felt he had no other choice but to move to heroin which is cheaper and more accessible than prescription medications.

It didn’t take long once heroin entered Daris’ life for the signs to start to show.  Melissa, Daris’ mom, came across test messages between Daris’ brother and his girlfriend where they talked about the time he spent in the bathroom and mentioned Daris falling asleep in the middle of a text message.   His mother didn’t have any proof but confronted him and said “I know you’re doing drugs,” he immediately broke down, begging for help.  Over and over he kept saying “I don’t know why I can’t stop, I just want my life back.” That night Melissa stayed up all night surfing the Internet, looking for rehabs and resources only to come up empty-handed.  Like so many parents she didn’t know where to turn.There was one facility with a bed for him, private pay only and I had no choice but to take out a private loan to try and save my son’s life.

Melissa found one facility with an available bed.  It was a private center that Melissa had to take a loan out to get Daris into the facility.  At Liberty Ranch, Daris was too close to home and all of his connections.  Daris began leaving the center and had a tough time dealing with the rules.  Melissa says she doesn’t blame the treatment center; she believes that a more faith-based program would have fit Daris better.  One of his regular reassurances to his mom about his condition was ” God will see me through this.” Daris had a strong faith and Melissa wishes she could have found a faith-based program for him.

When your child is using a substance like heroin you know that at any moment your entire life can change.  With fentanyl being added to heroin more often than not, parents are living their lives in agonizing fear of losing their child to this disease.  Melissa was no different.  On August 14th Melissa joined an ever-growing group of families that have lost one of their most precious gems to a drug overdose.  Daris had been doing very well.  He was working out at the gym when he made plans to meet his mom at his sister’s basketball game.  One of his old using buddies approached him at the gym and asked Daris to come hang out.  On their way to the friend’s house, they bought heroin.  It is estimated that Daris took his final dose of heroin around 10:30 am, at about 11 his “friend” called a friend and told them that Daris was unconscious.  Unfortunately, even after he was told to call 911 he waited, at 3:10 another call was placed to the friend at which time he admitted that he hadn’t called 911 and now he was talking about dumping Daris in a ditch somewhere.  After hearing this kid on the other end of the conversation called 911.  By then it was too late, Daris had suffered severe brain damage from lack of oxygen.  Thankfully Daris gave his mother the gift of three days where Melissa was able to cuddle up next to her son, breathe his scent and tell him how much everyone loved him.  Melissa held him looking at her beautiful son as he took his last breath.


The heartbreak that Melissa Dye and her surviving children have endured because of Daris’ senseless death has created an unstoppable force.  Melissa still struggles with the loss of her son, but she is also determined to try to save someone else’s child.  Project Daris, is a team made up of medical professionals that offer a FREE program to Kentucky and surrounding States schools. Melissa takes Project Daris into schools and provides drug education, K-12,  on the subject of current drugs that are being abused and misused.

Melissa’s team is determined to counter the glorified messages kids see and hear on social media. Daris’s story is told to the students, and they watch his memorial video.  Project Daris works with guest speakers which include people in recovery and parents that have also dealt with a child suffering from Substance Use Disorder. 

When asked what her main goal was Melissa was quick to say, “My primary purpose is to put drug education back into schools.  Drug education needs to be part of the curriculum; our children deserve to learn the life skills to avoid drugs. I believe this is where we can make the biggest impact.  We’ll never be able to keep the drugs or dealers off the street, but we can educate our children in the truths of drug use and abuse!”

I then asked Melissa what advice would she give families facing this situation in their children and she said, “I didn’t have the tools or knowledge to save my son, become educated! Don’t believe in tough love or rock bottom; the bottom was my son’s death.”

Recently, after visiting a school, Melissa got an email from the parent of one of the students that saw Melissa’s story at school.  This is what the email said:

Project Daris


I wanted to let you know that my son, who is a 14 yr old Freshman, was present in the assembly at Montgomery County High School when you spoke yesterday. He was very emotional telling me about your son’s life and his death. I am a drug counselor. We have people in our family who are in recovery, and have even lost many loved ones due to addiction including my mother-in-law in 2005, my best friend, who was like my brother and an uncle to my children; he died last year on my wedding anniversary, and my little sister lost her best friend only two months ago due to using heroin that had been laced with Carfentanil. We also come from a family of substantial military personnel including the Navy, Army, and United Stated Marine Corp., so there were many things about your life that struck home with my son. First, I want to offer to you my sincerest condolences for the loss of your child. Thank you for your child’s sacrifice for our country and our freedom, and thank you for your sacrifice as a military mom. I want to thank you mostly for sharing Daris’ story. Even though I try always to be very honest and real with him, my son was surprised by Daris’ age, talent, and Military service knowing that he died from an overdose. I know it can’t be easy to do this, but I want you to know that you made an impact on my son, and I am grateful for that. Tonight we sat together and listened to Daris sing songs on YouTube, and we cried together as we watched his memorial service. There are no words that I can say to relieve the pain of losing your child, and so I will not try to come up with any. I wanted only to thank you for taking the time to try to save other kids, MY CHILD, from the same desperation that I know Daris must have felt and that you must feel now. My heart breaks for you, but I am so grateful that you are using this as an opportunity to help heal our communities. Thank you, just doesn’t seem to be enough. Sincerely,

Mary Smith

Letters like this one are all the payment that someone like Melissa Dye needs to continue working nonstop to make sure that she does her best to keep any other mother from going through the nightmare that she and her family have endured.  Daris didn’t have to die.  If his “friend” would have just dialed 911 as soon as he noticed there was a problem, Daris would still be here.  Daris Patrick Fent was an all-American boy, who was talented, loving, intelligent and kind.  His life mattered the same way your child’s life matters.  Daris was right about one thing.  He was a Marine; he was meant to save lives, and his mother is very proud of that.

To learn more about Project Daris visit their Facebook page at:

If you would like to get Project Daris into your School go to their Facebook page and send Melissa Dye a message.  This is a free service.

don’t make them live your drama

i don’t have the inside scoop
on heroin addiction
call it what you need to
it’s a personal affliction
i don’t have an inside view
of this new epidemic
but i survived an alcoholic
so here is my polemic
i was asked so i will say
and i may come down hard
please protect the children
or the children will be scarred
if you have a child
but you can’t be
a dad or momma
get the kid to someone safe
don’t make them
live your drama
let them grow up happy
as every child should be
come back to them
when you get clean
they’re the priority
picture by public domain pictures, courtesy
created by special request for inside out at to help bring attention to the growing heroin epidemic

Carrie Fisher Faces Trial in Heroin-Related Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The actress’ attempt to be removed from a complicated suit over the death of a 21-year-old woman who lived in Fisher’s guest house is denied, as a judge rules she did not “meet her burden to establish that she cannot be found responsible.”

Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher has failed in her effort to escape a complex legal case over the fatal heroin overdose of a 21-year-old woman who lived in her guest house two months before her death.

A motion by Fisher to be removed from a wrongful-death lawsuit, which centers on the 2010 death of Amy Breliant, was denied Oct. 24 by Los Angeles Superior Court judge Laura A. Matz. The ruling, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, means that Fisher will remain a defendant in the case alongside a physician, Stephen Marmer M.D., and Warren Boyd, who was overseeing the rehab network that Breliant was under the care of when she died.

“Fisher has failed to meet her burden to establish that she cannot be found responsible, as a matter of law, for the conduct of Boyd, a joint venture,” reads Matz’s order.

According to the original complaint, filed in 2013 by Breliant’s family, Fisher — the actress and writer known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise — allowed the guest house on her Los Angeles property to be used by Boyd, who maintained a network of sober-living homes. According to that court document, Breliant had been assigned in June 2010 to stay at Fisher’s home for “rehabilitation” purposes. In return for offering up her home, Fisher was paid “a share of Boyd’s profit or revenue, equal to cash payments of $10,000, weekly,” the complaint alleges. Those payments to Fisher, the original filing claims, are evidence that Fisher effectively was in a joint venture with Boyd.

The family’s court papers “would support a reasonable inference that defendant engaged in contact with respect to taking or obtaining funds or assisting in taking or obtaining funds from the dependent adult with intent to defraud,” Matz writes in the court order.

Fisher’s attorney Vicki Greco declined to comment on the ruling.

When reached for comment, Fisher offered the following statement: “I feel great compassion for any parent’s loss of their child in an untimely death. I have a daughter. To lose a child is an unimaginable tragedy and the grief must be devastating. Unfortunately, I am not able to talk about the details of this case because it is ongoing.”

The attorney for Breliant’s family, Stephen G. Larson, a partner at the firm Larson O’Brien, offered a comment as well. “We are very pleased with the court’s ruling and look forward to being able to hold those people that we believe are responsible for Amy’s tragic death at the trial in this matter,” said Larson. “As alleged in our complaint, Warren Boyd used Carrie Fisher’s celebrity status as one of the instruments by which he conducted his fraudulent drug rehabilitation practice that we believe led to Amy’s death.”

The case is officially known as Breliant v. Marmer, and the plaintiff is Amy’s mother, Gianna Breliant. Gianna Breliant alleges that when she sought help from Boyd for her daughter’s heroin addiction, she was subjected to costly, ineffective and ultimately illegal treatment by Boyd. Boyd has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

In September 2010, Breliant died of an overdose while housed at another sober-living home run by Boyd, according to the filings. At the time of Breliant’s death, the family asserts they had paid Boyd about $222,000 for a range of services they were told included writing and acting coaches.

According to his website, Boyd was a former addict who reinvented himself as an interventionist and rehabilitation expert. He was the inspiration for and co-executive producer of the A&E televisions series The Cleaner, which was about a recovering addict who turns to helping others, starring Benjamin Bratt.

The trial is expected to start in May.


Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 7.39.50 PM.png

2:36 PM PDT 10/28/2016 by Peter Kiefer 





Body cavity heroin smuggling defendants pleading guilty



Sonia Martinez-Gamboa


5:29 p.m Friday, Oct. 28, 2016

Three defendants in a recent body cavity heroin smuggling case pleaded guilty Friday in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

Angelica Perez-Martinez, Fernando Villegas-Montoya, and Susana Castro-Beltran all entered guilty pleas to possession with intent to distribute a bulk amount of heroin.


U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose accepted the pleas and found them guilty of a federal crime that has maximums of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The plea agreements between assistant U.S. attorneys and the defense lawyers indicate the three defendants — plus one who was sentenced last week and another scheduled to plead guilty on Monday — will serve between time served and three years in prison.

Three women and two men overall were charged after the women were alleged to having stuffed heroin into their vaginas and traveled to Dayton from Mexico.

Jose Mercado Herrera pleaded guilty Oct. 20 to interstate travel in aid of a drug enterprise, which carries maximums of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sonia Martinez-Gamboa is scheduled to plead guilty on Monday to the possession with intent to distribute charge on Monday.

All of the sentencings are scheduled for February after pre-sentence reports are filed.

Through an interpreter, Rose explained that the immigration status of some of the defendants could change due to the guilty plea.

Drug Enforcement Agency investigators saw Martinez-Gamboa leave Dayton International Airport on Aug. 4. After her taxi was pulled over for speeding and after a trip to a hospital, Martinez was found to have 625 grams (1.37 pounds) of heroin concealed in her vagina, a criminal complaint said.

That same day, Castro-Beltran and Perez Martinez were accused of hiding a combined two kilos (about 4.4 pounds) in their body cavities. Those two and the two men were arrested after the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force received a tip about their drug activity.

Herrera Mercado and Villegas-Montoya, both of whom drove to Dayton from California, were accused of meeting the women at a local hotel, where they extracted the drugs from their bodies.

Court documents indicate that these cases are related to a man who allegedly swallowed condoms full of heroin and flew from San Diego to Dayton.

A body scan of Shane Michael Anthony allegedly showed he had “dozens” of suspected heroin pellets in his body, according to a report written by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency special agent.

Anthony has been charged with having more than 100 grams in heroin in his digestive system while flying from San Diego to Dayton. He was checked into Grandview Medical Center for his own safety. On Thursday, Anthony was in “fair” condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.


Mark Gokavi

Staff Writer

5:29 p.m


Oct. 28, 2016–law/body-cavity-heroin-smuggling-defendants-pleading-guilty/xoX7B74wE9s6HIxeAWHvgO/

Op-Ed: Noticing Heroin Addiction Warning Signs

Op-Ed: Noticing heroin addiction warning signs

As director of Alcohol and Other Drug Education Program for UW Colleges, including UW-Manitowoc, I’m frequently asked about the growing problem of heroin addiction and what can be done.

Since I am a prevention educator, I often frame my response in terms of what each of us can do as individuals, family members and friends to prevent the evolution of addiction from happening to those we care about.

Heroin addiction doesn’t happen overnight. For many users, the journey to addiction starts with a legitimate prescription for opiate pain medication and evolves from there. If we understand what this evolution looks like, we are more equipped to notice warning signs, ask questions and get help sooner.

If a patient uses pain medication for a short period of time, as prescribed by a doctor, the likelihood of developing an addiction remains fairly low. Over time, however, people who use opiate pain medication start to develop tolerance. If patients begin to notice their prescribed amount of medication doesn’t seem to work as well anymore, they should speak to their doctor. Many alternatives to pain management besides long-term opiate use are available.

Warning Sign 1 — The individual starts taking larger amounts of pain medication on their own, without consulting a doctor. This is drug abuse. Now is the best time to intervene to prevent further progression toward addiction.

When individuals are taking more than prescribed, they need to increase their supply. That can include getting refills legally at first but often involves finding alternative ways to maintain their supply.

Most prescription drug abusers report getting additional supply from friends and family by asking for it, buying it or stealing it. Sharing prescription drugs is illegal and can contribute to addiction.

You can reduce the risk of drug abuse by dropping off unused prescription medications to a drug drop box. Manitowoc and Two Rivers police departments have permanent drop boxes available at their stations. If you have medications at home, keep them hidden or locked in a safe location.

Warning Sign 2 — The individual is taking prescription drugs that are not prescribed to them.

As the needed dose increases, costs go up and availability of supply can become challenging for individuals. Users also experience withdrawal symptoms if they go too long without opiates.

Warning Sign 3 — Feeling sick when not using opiates.

When experiencing painful withdrawal or pill supply issues, individuals are at high risk for turning to heroin, which is often cheaper and more potent.

Initially, users who turn to heroin may experience a rush in a way they haven’t experienced with prescription drugs for a while. This can be very appealing and increases their desire to continue using heroin.

Warning Sign 4 — Heroin is typically not a recreational drug. If someone is using heroin, it is often an indicator of opiate addiction.

The sooner we — as individuals, parents, family members and friends — recognize warning signs and admit what they are, the more likely early intervention can happen.

Thankfully, growing numbers of multi-agency efforts are happening across our communities and throughout the state. Positive changes are happening legislatively as well as with prevention, intervention, and after-care support services.

We are moving in the right direction.

Wendy Seegers is director of Prevention Programs for the University of Wisconsin Colleges.

Thank You

Am I crazy or does it seem like people are more aware? Don’t get me wrong I know that we have a long way to go but I think we need to all take a moment think about it. So many of us work day and night to at the very least spread awareness that the heroin epidemic is real and that we need to change our thinking when it comes to addiction. How often do you look around to see if you’re making progress? Never, until today for me. It’s like I am in a tunnel and the only thing I see is what needs to be changed. Today I was looking at news articles and wow, there are a bunch of articles being written about what we are fighting every day. The verbiage in most of the articles seem much kinder than a year ago and the reports coming back from many courts seem as though the judges are listening to someone. It’s probably not me, but it might be you. The news organizations are still using those awful needle and spoon pictures for almost every article or news story, but hey they are at least talking about it.

The news organizations are still using those awful needle and spoon pictures for almost every article or news story, but hey they are at least talking about it. ( Contact any reporter you see doing this and kindly ask them to stop, never know it could work. It’s at least a start)

If you work in the recovery industry in any way, do me a favor. Sit back for a moment and think about all the hard work you have done. You are awesome. This is not easy, even if you don’t physically put people into treatment just spreading awareness is tough. For the people that are out there really doing good for all the right reasons, guys, we are doing a good job. There are things happening to benefit people who struggle with addiction, that have never been seen before in our government and within our communities, and it’s because of people like you. It might be because of you.

The people that I talk to every day amaze me with the things that they are working on, have accomplished and just the selfless choices that they make every single day in order maybe, hopefully, or even absolutely help someone that they don’t even know. How cool is that? Isn’t it something to wake up and start your day, not with dread but with passion? It sure is for me.

Now don’t get me wrong I know it gets to be discouraging at times and you wonder if you are making a difference, but guess what, if it was easy they wouldn’t need us. We go to battle every day and get up the next morning start again, and this I want to say thank you to you all.

Thank you for all the hours you put in.

Thank you for telling that jerk, addicts lives matter when he says otherwise.

Thank you for working hard with people who might fail a couple times.

Thank you for admitting your child has the disease of addiction because you never know who might be listening and thinks their alone.

Thank you for supporting a loved one who’s scared to death.

Thank you for sharing awareness meme’s that spread awareness far and wide.

Thank you for telling an active user that they don’t have to die.

Thank you for hugging your child when you feel like you have nothing left to give.

Oh, and Thank you for being stern about money because you need them to live.

Thank you for showing up to events when you would love to stay home.

Thank you for commenting when someone’s reaching out and just needs to know their not alone.

Thank you for reaching out to check on a friend.

Thank you for the laws you have changed.

Thank you for the ribbons on overdose awareness day.

Thank you for the black balloon you hung on black balloon day.

Thank you!

There are thousands of ways that we help one another. You don’t have to do everything to be a hero in my book. In order to beat this, it’s going to take us all. So today I just wanted to reach out and commend every single one of you. We all matter and we all work hard, so if you haven’t heard thank you in a while here it is.

Thank you!