Editor-in-Chief & Publisher
to our readers
WHEN THE Bethesda Magazine editorial team started talking about doing a
story on the local toll of the heroin epidemic, Senior Editor Cindy Rich said she
wanted to write it. She’d seen the way
drugs can devastate a family: Her cousin,
Andy, who attended Walter Johnson
High School, battled an addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other
drugs for nearly a decade, and died at 24
in 1990. She was close to Andy, and has
vivid memories of him showing up high
at their grandparents’ house in Chevy
Chase. “Our family tried everything,” she
says. “Everybody wanted to save him,
and nobody could.”
After interviews with drug users, rela-
tives of addicts, experts, police officers
and county officials, Rich decided to tell
the story through the eyes of three local
mothers who had lost a son or daughter
to an overdose in the last year. “I could see
my aunt in these moms,” Rich says.
For a long time, heroin addiction was
seen as an “inner-city problem.” But that
has changed in recent years as the increased legal use of powerful prescription
painkillers has led to a dramatic rise in
heroin-related overdose deaths in affluent
suburbs, including Montgomery County.
A police officer told Rich that he
went to the doctor for a hernia, and
when he said he didn’t need a prescrip-
tion for painkillers, the doctor said,
“Wow, finally a patient that doesn’t
The local statistics are startling: There
were 33 heroin fatalities in the county in
2014 compared with 11 in 2011. Statewide,
there are now more deaths from heroin
overdoses than from automobile accidents.
One of the mothers in Rich’s story
is a circuit court judge, another is a
medical director for a biopharmaceu-
A DEADLY HIGH
EVERY YEAR in the November/December
issue we run a photo on this page of our
amazing staff. This year that seemed
particularly fitting because, at 408 pages, this
is the biggest issue that Bethesda Magazine
has published. (The previous record was 384
pages in September/October 2015.) Producing an issue of this size, with more than 200
editorial pages and more than 300 different
ads, is a Herculean task.
On top of that, we publish an average of
eight stories a day online in Bethesda Beat,
and many of our staff members play key roles
in our sibling publication, Arlington Magazine.
I am fortunate and grateful to work with so
many talented and dedicated professionals.
Front (left to right): Meghan Murphy, Jill Trone, Penny Skarupa, Maire McArdle, Cindy Rich, Susan Hull,
Jennifer Farkas, Emma Gray Pitt, Ashlyn Mason, Cara Hedgepeth, Julie Rasicot; Back (left to right):
Andrew Metcalf, Sandra Burley, Kathleen Neary, Mary Clare Glover, Aaron Kraut, Paula Duggan, Laura
Kottlowski, Arlis Dellapa, Onecia Ribeiro, LuAnne Spurrell. Not pictured: Laura Goode.
tical company, and another is the chief
marketing officer for an accounting firm.
We wanted to tell a story that readers
could look at and think, that could be me.
“This can happen to anyone, but I think a
lot of people still see it as someone else’s
problem,” says Rich.
The women spent many hours sharing
their stories with Rich. “It struck me that
they were willing to talk about this when
they are in excruciating pain,” she says.
“They can’t bring their kids back, but they
hope they can help someone else.”
Rich’s story begins on page 136.