Pubdate: Thu, 11 Aug 2005
Source: Telegraph (NH)
Copyright: 2005 Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Andrew Wolfe


NASHUA - Michael Donlon called his mother Wednesday, begging her to bail 
him out of jail.

It breaks her heart, Cheryl Donlon said, but she can't do it. She doesn't 
have $50,000, for one. Even if she did, she said, he's only been there a 
week. If he got out now, with no treatment, she said, he'd just go back to 
killing himself with heroin, one jab at a time.

She didn't call police last week because she wanted her son to go to jail. 
She called because she wants him to live. She just wishes there was some 
other place she could have called for help.

"I'm a mother who loves her kid," she said, adding later, "I'm not going to 
let him lay in his bedroom and put needles in his arm."

Michael Donlon, 22, has struggled with heroin addiction for several years 
now, his mother said, and his older brother wrestled the same devil. The 
only treatment they've found for their addiction has come through the 
courts and prison, she said.

Michael's older brother turned to drugs after a bad motorcycle crash and a 
course of painkillers, his mother said. He's now 26, lawfully and gainfully 
employed, and two years sober after doing time for dealing heroin, she 
said. She asked that his name not be used.

Cheryl Donlon isn't sure how, when or why Michael turned to heroin. He'd 
tried marijuana as a teen, but didn't seem to use it often, and he never 
drank, she said. Addiction runs in the family, however, she said.

"I didn't know Michael was using heroin until he got caught," she said. "I 
had no clue."

About 3 1/2 years ago, she said, Michael and some of his friends were 
arrested after they stole power tools from a construction site to raise 
money for drugs. Michael had a small amount of heroin when he was arrested.

"I felt badly, and the first time, I bailed him out (of jail)," his mother 

Michael came back home, and his mother set a curfew, and wouldn't allow him 
to shut his bedroom door. She sought out counseling or treatment programs, 
but found nothing. She called treatment centers, but wasn't able to find a 
place for her son. Michael had no health insurance coverage at the time, 
which didn't help matters.

She tried to get him help for depression, but once the agency learned that 
he also had a drug problem, they turned him away, she said. Michael's 
brother got arrested on drug charges around the same time.

"I had both boys back in the house, addicted to heroin, and I was afraid to 
let them out of my sight," she said, adding later, "My whole life was 
revolving around my sons' drug addictions."

Michael overdosed many times. Once, his brother found him passed out in a 
downtown stairwell, his leg twisted underneath his body. He required 
surgery to restore circulation in his leg, she said.

Last Tuesday when Donlon called police on her son, it wasn't the first time.

Donlon had called police before and turned in her son for violating 
probation. She had pleaded with a judge not to let him out, and to send him 
to treatment, but the judge told her to sit down and shut it, she said. She 
begged family and friends not to post Michael's bail, but a relative did, 
she said. Michael overdosed again the same day he got out.

Later, after another stint in jail, Michael got into a 30-day residential 
program at the Phoenix House in Keene, his mother said. He got counseling, 
and medications for depression. He felt great when he finished, she said. 
He got a steady job, a nice car, and then, eventually, chucked it all for 
heroin again.

His mother called police Aug. 2, after finding Michael passed out on his 
bed, a syringe and some methadone pills in a small case beside him. Michael 
fled the house, and was arrested soon afterward, caught with a shoebox 
holding 5.9 grams of cocaine, 2.8 grams of heroin, 83 Klonopin pills, 42 
Xanax pills, and various paraphernalia, including a ledger and electronic 
scale, police said.

As a result, Michael is facing four felony counts of possession of a 
controlled drug with the intent to sell.

Cheryl Donlon said she suspects Michael was dealing to support his habit. 
She hopes he will follow in his older brother's footsteps, and go to 
prison. Michael's brother served the bulk of his sentence at the Lakes 
Region Facility, where he got long term, effective drug treatment, she said.

"I know Michael is not innocent," Cheryl Donlon said. "I don't want him to 
get a slap on the wrist, but I don't want him up in Concord (state prison) 
with murderers and rapists."

"The bottom line is he needs help . . . Michael himself agrees that he 
needs help," she said.

It's frustrating, Cheryl Donlon said, that there seems to be no place for 
her sons to get help but prison. The medical profession has come to 
recognize addiction has a disease, she said, but society doesn't treat it 
as such.

"They need programs out there," she said. "Do we put people with cancer in 
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