Los Angeles Sober Coach: Young Athletes Being Turned into Heroin Addicts

Los Angeles Sober Coach: Young Athletes Being Turned into Heroin Addicts
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 heroin needle
Roman Montano had barely learned cursive when he was asked to sign his first baseball. Parents of teammates had watched him dominate game after game in Albuquerque’s Little League during the summer of 2000, mowing down batters and belting home runs. The autograph requests were mostly facetious, but what they signified was clear: The kid was going somewhere. The next few years only confirmed that notion.
Roman grew to 6’6″ and 250 pounds. He made a mockery of the weight room at Eldorado High and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9. As a sophomore defensive  lineman he was honorable mention all-state in Class 5A. He also joined the basketball team his senior year, giving in to the pleadings of the coach, and was instantly the Eagles’ best player. And after high school, when he trained with the legion of MMA fighters based in Albuquerque, they encouraged him to compete as a heavyweight.  Baseball though, was always his favorite sport—”the most funnest,” as he had put it to the Albuquerque Tribune when he was 12. He once struck out all 18 batters in a Thunderbird League game. The towering righty was Eldorado High’s ace, his fastball reaching the 90s. The second starter? Ken Giles, now a flame-throwing Phillies reliever. “You’re talking about a guy with a ton of potential: size, natural ability, attitude,” Giles says. “Everyone wanted to be him, but everyone wanted to be around him, too. The first word I would  use to describe Roman is lovable.”
A foot injury his junior year didn’t derail Roman. He needed minor surgery on a small bone, but he popped some OxyContin and after a few weeks was back on the mound. His senior year Roman planned to lead Eldorado to a state title and then declare for the 2008 major league draft (the Braves had expressed the most interest in him), spurning about 20 Division I scholarship offers. Before the season, though, Roman committed one of those judgment-deprived acts for which teenagers are known. He and some friends used a stolen credit card at a mall. They got caught. The school found out. Though it was Roman’s first offense, he was kicked off the team. Humiliated, angry and depressed, Roman thought back to the numbing effect of the OxyContin. His prescription had run out, but that wasn’t much of an impediment. In the upscale Northeast Heights—more High School Musical Albuquerque than Breaking Bad Albuquerque—painkillers were competing with marijuana and alcohol as the party drug of choice. “There are pill parties,” says Roman’s younger brother, Beau. “[Pills are] so easy to get. They’re everywhere.”
Roman was soon in the grip of Oxy. He lost interest in baseball. He showed up high for graduation. JoAnn Montano and her husband, Bo, who owns a wheel-alignment and body-shop business, figured their son was just floundering—until JoAnn caught him using. She took him to an addiction center, and he was prescribed Suboxone to treat his opioid dependency.Roman, though, couldn’t fully kick his habit. Before graduation he had switched to a cheaper substance that offered the same high at a lower price: heroin.  At first Roman smoked “black” (black-tar heroin), a relatively crude version of the drug that was easy to obtain. Then he began using intravenously. But he hid his addiction well. He stayed on Suboxone, took up competitive bodybuilding and started training at an MMA gym. He had a job selling phones for Verizon. “He looked so healthy, a big, strapping guy, not like a junkie,” says Bo. “He was back doing his athletics. We thought the addiction was behind us. We didn’t know how cunning and how manipulative this drug is.”
On May 2, 2012, Roman was supposed to lift weights with his father in the morning. Roman didn’t show up, and texts to him went unanswered. His fiancée, Mikaila Lovato, couldn’t find him either.  In the evening two chaplains went to the Montanos’ house, asking for Roman’s next of kin. They said that Roman had been found slumped in the driver’s seat of his car behind a FedEx store, a syringe in his arm, the motor running. He was 22 and dead from a heroin overdose. This is just one personal story of many that are now flooding our sports teams. Heroin overdoses have tripled in the past 5 years in the sports industry and it all seems to start with the same story.  An injury leading to pain pills, the pills leading to heroin and heroin leading to overdoses and death. We are here to help at Top Rated Addiction Recovery and Sober Coaching Services Don’t let your addiction take your life.