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He spent every Christmas alone after 2011 because he couldn’t kick the alcohol and prescription drug habits he acquired after his surgeries.
Mark died of an overdose in March 2016, alone in an Augusta apartment, at age 50. “But he had 43 really good years.” To recall the good memories from her son’s life, Teresa Mc Leod has to go back to before he was a teenager. was a risk-taking youngster, the first to take the experimental leap. “When he was 10 or 11, the phone calls started coming: ‘Mom, I think I broke my collarbone, again.’ ‘I think I broke my wrist.’” On a vacation to Florida, Billy, ecstatic when he saw a swimming pool near their hotel, flung himself into the chilly water.
He struck out 122 batters in 87 2/3 innings for the Huskies. His mother remembers him as always active and involved in some sport, whether it was competitive or friendly, such as disc golf. “Unless he was playing his Xbox.” He liked to have fun, too. The inclination to serve emerged in other ways, too, including her studies after high school.
He also played independent ball for two years, pitching for the Old Orchard Beach Surge in 2015 until an elbow injury ended his pitching career. “If there was something he couldn’t do, he would try it because that was in his makeup.” That made him a leader on every team he played on. “He was a jokester, a prankster who wanted to be the life of the party,” she said. She majored in criminal justice at the University of Southern Maine, hoping to one day help children and teens affected by addiction.
Ashley was placed with a loving foster family with whom she lived for years, but her struggle never really went away.
“I think she always saw herself as damaged goods,” said a friend, Hannah Paquette.
Recovery and relapse became part of her struggle, and Ashley first enrolled in residential rehab at Crossroads in Windham in 2012.“She fell off the wagon, but she always got back on,” said another friend, Nicole Wheaton.“I think she knew it was something she would always struggle with, but she kept doing it.” Mark Berglund, a gregarious man who made friends easily, was buoyed by a great curiosity and the belief that traditions are vital.She died of an overdose in July 2016, taking more heroin than her body could handle after several months clean.A friend who went through rehab with Ashley, Rachael Allenby, said the news came as a shock to her and others who had looked up to her as an example of someone who, despite everything, always strove to get back on the right path.
They are dying in cities like Portland and Augusta and in the affluent suburbs, where heroin is plentiful. Each day, the series explores a different facet of Maine's heroin epidemic: how some families suffer multiple overdose deaths; how labeling addiction as a moral failing weakens our responses; how one York County town has been ravaged by heroin; how women face a perilous lack of support and treatment programs; and how a failure to invest in treatment fed a rising death toll.