Thursday, March 14, 2002

Kevin's life


One rescue leads to another

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        His father was not very much in Kevin Curry's life, but he had “a bunch of uncles.” And when he was about 15, one he particularly admired taught him how to use drugs. With a needle.

        The next 30 years might have been very different if the uncle had, say, taught Kevin how to use a library card or showed him how to catch a trout. But that did not happen.

        After Kevin dropped out of Western Hills High School to hone his skills as an addict, he became a thief and an alcoholic as well. A very smart guy, Kevin occasionally tried to rescue himself. But that's like somebody who can't swim trying to save himself from drowning. On his clear days, he was scared. Scared of dying. Scared of going to jail.

Urban cattle rustling

        He enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. “I got an honorable discharge by the skin of my teeth,” Kevin says. Then he went on a powerful bender. He woke up at his mother's house in Mount Auburn with no memory of the trip. He drove a car from Oklahoma to Ohio.

        Maybe somebody you know was on the road at the same time. A terrifying thought. People who are addled by drugs and alcohol are dangerous and expensive in small and very large ways.

        Fully committed again to life as an addict, Kevin began urban “cattle rustling.” That's what they call it when a couple of guys rip off a grocery store for as much meat as they can hide under their coats. Customers paid, of course, in cash. By the time he walked down Vine Street to Liberty where his dealer awaited, Kevin had enough money for a fix.

        Amazingly, through this haze of drugs and alcohol, he sometimes managed to keep his head above water. A GED, some college classes. Then he would be drowning again.

        In January of 1992, Kevin had the perfect resume for Prospect House, a residence for addicts without resources, without money, without hope. This treatment facility in Price Hill has had some remarkable successes, and Kevin appeared to be one of them.

        For a while.

        He finished his bachelor's degree at University of Cincinnati. “But I left Prospect House too soon,” he says.

New, better lessons

        This happens. “Addiction is a disease that tries to convince you that it's not there,” says David Logan, director at Prospect House. “You start thinking "maybe one drink, just one.' And then you're off to the races again.”

        But Kevin came back to Prospect House. This time, he finished a master's degree in social work at UC. He has a job at a homeless center for men and is on staff at Prospect House. He pays his bills, took a course in CPR at the Red Cross “just in case.” After a couple of years on the right track in February, he began work on a doctorate. People have helped him, teaching him better lessons than the ones he learned as a boy.

        About three weeks ago, he used — very dramatically, I am told — one of those new lessons. A man living at Prospect House stopped breathing. Asthma coupled with pneumonia.

        “The guy would have died,” says David Logan. But Kevin happened to be there and happened to have learned CPR. And he was clean and sober, thanks, he says, to the people at Prospect House “who did not give up on me, who literally saved me.”

        And one Friday morning, Kevin saved somebody else.

        That's the way it works.

       E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call 768-8393.

       



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