Former Chillicothe drug dealer hands entire life over to fight against drugs

The Tri-State area has been in the grips of a drug epidemic swallowing communities whole for several years.

Communities trapped in the middle have been struggling to stay afloat in the face of an opiate tidal wave.

One small Ohio town, Chillicothe, sits along what locals have called a major drug trafficking route, U.S. Route 23, and is facing the same problems as the rest of Appalachia.

In Chillicothe Monday, Cheryl Beverly tacked a checkout list on the wall of her home.

It's a daily routine for her, keeping tabs on the nine other women living in her home, sharing one bathroom which doubles as a laundry room, one kitchen stocked with the basics and one simple goal.

That goal is taking their lives back from addiction.

"It's not easy," said Beverly sitting in her local church a few blocks away from the grass roots recovery house.

Beverly is up every day about 6:30 a.m., waking the women for eight hours of daily treatment at Safe House Recovery, then coaching the recovering addicts on life skills through the evening. She teaches them the basics such as how to grocery shop, manage money, and, for some, even how to bathe.

"A lot of ladies have used since the age of 10, so that's when they stop growing. You're training an adult, that has a child's mind," she said.

Beverly gave her house and life over to helping addicts mainly because she helped cause the problem choking Chillicothe. Beverly sold drugs for years.

"My first sale was $75 of crack, so I went from $75 to $300 in 10 minutes," she said.

Beverly was eventually bank rolling up to $10,000 a week in sales.

Karma came knocking in 2007.

"I get a phone call that it's my child," Beverly said looking into the distance, reflecting on a life nearly a decade in the past.

The call brought news that her two youngest sons had fallen to addiction from the same drugs she had sold for years.

"I was blindsided. I didn't know that he was . . . sick now," she said.

Now she is banking good karma by reforming addicts from all over Ross County such as Carrie Byers.

"When I was using, I didn't care that I didn't have my kids. I didn't care that I didn't have my family," Byers said. "I cared about heroin."

Now clean for a year, Byers can reflect on her 15 years of addiction.

Crack, pills, heroin, an addiction so bad she lost everything she owns and nearly lost her arm to a nasty infection.

"I took a razor blade to it. My arm was probably that big," she said, holding her hand about 3 inches over an old jagged scar on her forearm.

Even with a grapefruit-sized arm, she ran from the hospital twice to get high.

"Ten minutes after surgery I was in recovery and I said I wanted to leave. I left, and went and got high again," Byers said.

Byers is now working with Beverly to help addicts get clean and heal a community she said has addicts on every street and drugs for sale on nearly every corner.

"There was 2 ODs 30 minutes ago. There was 4 ODs yesterday of people that I know," she said.

She wanted addicts to know that it is possible to get clean with or without help.

Today Byers can feel the sun on her face, wake up without wanting to end her life, and see her kids every day.

"I fix them dinner. I yell at them," she said with a laugh. "I'm doing the right thing finally. I'm a mom now."

After nearly a decade in the addict saving business, Beverly has built a recovery team around her. Her will and determination to make amends for her actions has begun paying dividends for the community. She said of the more than 100 women who have stated in her home, 85 are now clean, in a house, and working a job.

"The doors are finally opening," she said.

Beverly said she is going to begin delegating some work to grow her grass roots recovery home, and so she can breathe.

"Branch out, and say this is what we're doing. But right now Cheryl is taking a nap," she said with a laugh, knowing full well there is no time for her to rest in the face of an opiate epidemic.

Beverly's recovery home, Cheryl's House of Hope, is having a fundraiser to support the program.

It will begin 5 p.m. March 21 at the St. Mary's Family Center in Chillicothe and include speakers sharing their story of addiction. Keynote speaker Sheila Ray Charles will round out the night's entertainment.

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