GREENVILLE - Brandon Curtner is just 21 years old, but he’s got a record that includes burglary and drug possession. His face has been on the cover of The Daily Advocate not once, but twice, the second time more recent than his actual offenses, he said.
On March 24, The Daily Advocate ran a collage entitled “The Faces of Heroin” as part of a larger, company-wide project depicting the heroin epidemic. Curtner felt as if his two years of hard work to get and stay clean had been for nothing, he said, after seeing his photo under that label.
“Two years ago, I may have been the face of heroin, but honestly, I know there were people worse into it than I was,” Curtner explained. “Today, I’m not the face of heroin. After my arrest in 2012, I got clean. Without that reality check, I might not be here today.”
Curtner recalled the feelings of shame and disappointment he felt, knowing how he’d disappointed his family, including his police officer brother, and the mother of his unborn child, he said. His poor choices were a combination of circumstances, he said.
When he was just 11 years old, Curtner said he came upon a family member smoking marijuana, and when offered, he tried it.
“I got mixed up with the wrong people early on,” Curtner said. “I was hanging out with guys who were much older than me, making their own bad decisions…”
When he was 14, Curtner said he allowed a friend to talk him into burglarizing a home, where they retrieved nearly $6,000, though he did eventually have to do time in juvenile detention for the crime.
Curtner’s mother started out young, too, he said – having her first son at the age of 15, and three more later down the road. She was a single mom, working two jobs, so she wasn’t around much, Curtner stated. It gave him a lot of freedom to make bad decisions with his older brothers and their friends, he shared.
“I haven’t lived a great life,” Curtner explained.
After his stint in juvie, Curtner said he progressed to harder drugs, including prescription pills and cocaine. He’d been doing heroin for a few months when he was pulled over for “playing music too loudly” and was found to be in possession of heroin. The car he was in wasn’t his, he’d borrowed it from a friend, one who also used heroin - and kept his implements of self-destruction in his glove box, Curtner stated.
That was the first time Curtner’s face appeared on the cover of The Daily Advocate, he said. He lost his job at Greenville Technology, Inc. after they learned of his arrest, he added.
Curtner completed recovery, he said, as well as the Taking Charge of Your Life class currently being offered by Darke County Job and Family Services and Darke County Adult Probation Services in conjunction with Darke County Economic Development. Curtner also joined the Men’s Fraternity at the suggestion of Judge Jonathan P. Hein, and completed the Thinking for a Change class with his probation officer, he said. Currently, Curtner is enrolled in the adult welding class at the Darke County Workforce Development Center.
“People always said I had ‘so much potential,’” Curtner stated. “After being through these classes, I understand why. Having so many people care about whether you succeed, that really boosts your confidence in your ability to actually get out there and do it.”
There have been set-backs, including being homeless for about two months, he said, but he doesn’t plan to go back to using to cope with those. He’s taking charge of his life for more than just himself, he said, he’s taking charge because his daughter needs him.
“My daughter will be one in July. I’ve never met her, or even held her, but everything I do is for her,” Curtner stated. “She needs me. Every child needs both of their parents. I want to be able to give her a good life, buy her the things she needs and wants, and not have to struggle through everything.”
Curtner’s hoping that by completing the adult welding class, along with the other classes he’s taken, he’ll be able to get past his mistakes and move on to a better, brighter future, that will hopefully include his daughter, he said.
“I don’t regret it, though,” Curtner said of his arrest. “I regret the consequences, but not the experience, I guess I should say. It was a life lesson. I learned from it, and maybe because I’ve been through it, I can help someone else. Without the arrest, I honestly don’t think I would ever have had the opportunities to get out of that lifestyle and start making better choices.”