Dover mother fights heroin epidemic after son's tragedy

Dover mother fights heroin epidemic after son's tragedy

DOVER, OH (WOIO) - The heroin epidemic continues to spread in northeast Ohio communities.

From 2007 to 2013, heroin deaths nearly quintupled, according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office. In 2007, there were 40 heroin deaths in the county. By 2013, officials say that number rose to 194.

In Cuyahoga County, men are three times more likely than women to have a heroin-related death.

Statewide, the health department reports heroin accounted for 47 percent of drug overdoses in 2014.

Zachary Davis, just 24 years old, died from a heroin overdose 10 years ago. Ever since then, his mother, Anita, has made it her mission to try to keep other families from suffering like hers.

In the middle of Amish Country in Dover, you'll find family-owned Breitenbach Wine Cellars.

"Thirty five years, my father actually built it," said Anita Davis.

One type of wine stands out for Davis.

"This wine is called 'Green Shoes,'" she said. "It's a blend of cabernet and merlot. My mom designed the label and it's in memory of Zachary."

Ten years have passed since Anita lost her oldest son, Zachary, to a heroin overdose. Zachary loved adventure, snowboarding, music and art.

"He was really fun-loving. He was friends with everyone who met him," Davis said.

But he got hooked on drugs in his teens and bounced in and out of rehab centers.

"I spent many years -- my family and I -- trying to help him through his addictions and trying to get him into rehab, and it was really a long struggle for us," Davis said.

Now Davis is telling her story to help others. From big cities to small towns, like Dover, heroin abuse is a problem everywhere.

She speaks at middle schools to warn kids and teens of the dangers of heroin and other drugs.

She also helped open the first sober living facility, the Pathway to Wellness Center, in Tuscarawas County.

"In this area, in Amish Country, you wouldn't think, but it's really surprising how many people are affected by drugs," Davis said.

Years may have passed, but the winery still feels empty to Anita without Zachary, especially this time of the year.

"Zachary really loved the holidays. He loved opening Christmas presents and everything that went with it. Yeah, we do miss him," she said.

In 10 years, Davis says she has spoken to about 15,000 children in a dozen school districts.

She also started the Zachary Davis Memorial Foundation.

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