He led Hamilton police on a high-speed chase. That was his wake-up call for sobriety.

Aaron Allen, 35, currently lives in Hamilton. His path to sobriety involved a police chase following a theft.

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Aaron Allen, 35, currently lives in Hamilton. His path to sobriety involved a police chase following a theft.

The Journal-News recently published several stories from around the region of those who fought to overcome addiction or are working to help others do so, showing some promise in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

MORE: So many opioid epidemic stories are devastating. These are stories of hope

It was a departure from the many posthumous profiles of people whose lives were snuffed out by their addiction and the ever-more-potent drugs easily available on Butler County’s streets.

More recovering addicts came forward to share their stories with us. The stories of sobriety and those getting clean are sometimes overlooked. But when heard, they shed light on what it takes to get clean and stay that way.

Here are two more:

Gas station robbery leads to sobriety

Aaron Allen’s path to sobriety involved a police chase following a theft.

“In early 2017 I was in active addiction,” Allen said.” I had lost my house, my job, and pretty much everything. I remember the date – Jan. 29. I woke up didn’t have any money, didn’t have anything, and I was addicted to heroin at the time.”

Allen, 35, said the only thing driving him that day was the need to get high.

“I for some reason thought at the time that it would be a good time to rob a gas station,” he said. “So, I got in my girlfriend’s car and I started to drive.”

He was heading through Trenton going to Middletown to meet his dealer, but the trip took a detour.

“I robbed the Marathon in Trenton,” Allen said. “I didn’t have a mask on. I just walked in there and I told the poor little girl behind the counter that I’m going to need your money.”

The clerk told him ‘no’ and because he didn’t have a weapon, he jumped over the counter and ripped the cash register drawer out of the wall.

“I got in the car and went and met my dealer and got high and then came back to Hamilton,” he said. “By the time I got back to Hamilton the cops were already looking for me. A police officer saw me and started chasing me. My mindset at the time was I’m not going to give up.”

A high-speed chase ensued.

“By the grace of God, the car’s engine ended up seizing up on me … I probably would have ended up hurting somebody and probably wouldn’t have stopped,” Allen said. “I was arrested and thankful that I didn’t hurt anybody.”

Police found a needle in his car and eventually he was transferred to the Trenton Police Department for questioning.

“I knew I was in a lot of trouble and I just felt like I needed to be completely honest with the police and I told them everything — even where I ditched the cash register,” Allen said


Allen said his life took a change for the positive when he appeared in front of Judge Gregory Howard to answer for the robbery charge.

“He held up my mugshot and said these drugs had a hold on you,” Allen said. “He gave me a chance.”

That chance involved an intensive outpatient program with a zero tolerance label attached to it. Allen went to a community correctional treatment facility in Lebanon where he ended up teaching Bible study and working as the head cook in the kitchen.

A stint at the Sojourner Recovery Services treatment facility in Hamilton led him to meet Pastor Wendell Hope from the Dream Center Church who offered Allen a part-time job at the church and is currently his sponsor as he continues to attend meetings and stay clean.

“I found an apartment at Serve City,” Allen said. “God has made a way for me and I’m thankful I have been sober for 14 months.”

Allen’s message to those who want to get clean is this: “There are people out there who care and people out there who will help you.”

Saying good night in the wrong house led to getting sober

Daniel Swartz says abuse suffered as a child led him to an addiction that started with marijuana and alcohol, then turned into heroin and opioids.

. “My first love died in my arms because of heroin at my house,” Swartz, 47, said.

MORE: Drug crisis in Ohio: What solutions are making a difference?

Like Allen, it was a crime that led to his life of sobriety.

“ I was so high I actually went into the wrong house and told the people in there I was going to bed,” he said.

That led to a felony trespassing charge.

“From that, I was given a prison diversion program and now I’ve got 33 months clean from heroin. I went back to school at Cincinnati State and got my drug counselor’s license,” Swartz said.

When he was using, Swartz said his world was closed off and he was withdrawn from society and didn’t think there was any help out there for those battling addiction.

“I was wrong about that,” he said. “The world is what we make it. Addiction isolates us. We take our families hostage because addiction is such a self-centered, self-absorbed thing.”

He went to Sojourner Recovery Services in Hamilton and Community Behavioral Health for treatment, while also taking a big-step to rid himself of the demons that kept his addiction going strong.

“I wanted to get clean but didn’t have the tools to do it,” Swartz said. “Getting help took me out of the element I was stuck in. I had to make peace with the people who abused me because I was using that as a crutch or I was liable to continue to use. I was pulled out of the horrors of addiction.”

Swartz said there is help and hope for those seeking to get sober.

“I would like to say that each day is cherries and roses but it’s not,” he said. “But there is help out there is you want it and you want to work at getting clean.”


The Journal-News is committed to covering the most important issues in our community. Recently, that has included co-hosting discussions to facilitate talks about possible solutions in easing the opioid epidemic and continued reporting on the issue, its costs and its future.


A complete list of local rehab addiction facilities and treatment centers can be obtained by calling the Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services Board at 1-844-427-4747. A list below denotes some of the treatment providers available in the area.

Heroin Hope Line - 1-844-427-4747

Access Counseling Services -Middletown

Beckett Springs Hospital – West Chester

Community Behavioral Health – Hamilton, Middletown

DeCoach Rehabilitation Center – Fairfield

Heroin Hope Line – Butler County Crisis Line

Lumiere Healing Center – West Chester

Modern Psychiatry and Wellness – Hamilton, West Chester

Pinpoint Behavioral Health Solutions - Middletown

Sojourner Recovery Services – Hamilton

Stateline Treatment Center – Ross

The Next Right Thing - Middletown

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