"I wouldn't wish it on anybody:" Silencing the stigma that is heroin addiction

PLEASANT PRAIRIE – When it comes to heroin, there is a stigma that, in many cases, haunts addicts and their families long after the heroin stops flowing.

Linda Dwyer

The drug itself comes in many forms. It can affect any type of person, and it ruins every facet it touches.

It also brings with it judgment and shame. Linda Dwyer of Pleasant Prairie knows this reality far too well.

“I did lose friends,” says Dwyer. “They would just shun me like ‘Gosh what kind of family are you? What are you doing in that house?  What’s going on in that house to make you have three kids that are using heroin.”

Dwyer has spent the last 10 years fighting – fighting for her addicted children and fighting a stigma.  She has also been doing it all alone.

Dwyer’s  husband Dan died from Lymphoma. Their youngest was in just second grade when it happened.

Over the next several years, Dwyer’s  three oldest – Ryan, Nathan and Dylan – started down the slippery slope of addiction. First, they experimented with prescription pills while in high school at Tremper in Kenosha. They eventually turned to heroin.

All three boys went to rehab and relapsed numerous times. Then, things started getting better until one November day when Dwyer got a phone call at work from her daughter.

“Just come, just come home!” Dwyer recalls her daughter screaming on the other end of the phone. “Nathan’s dead.”


Dwyer knew it was a heroin overdose. Not only did Dwyer lose her son to the addiction, but now much of the blame was being put on her even from her own family members.

A few months ago we shared the story of Lesa Treuden’s son, Dale, who also died from a heroin overdose. However, unlike Nathan’s case, an arrest was made in Dale’s death.

“Samantha did enter a plea to the homicide charge as charged,” says attorney Jonathan LaVoy.  “She fully accepts responsibility. The result was tragic.”

Samantha Molkenthen

Samantha Molkenthen, 20, admits she was the one who delivered the heroin to Dale which ultimately took his life. Now that she has been convicted of homicide, she too along with her mother lives in the shadow of stigma.

Attorney Jonathan LaVoy represents Samantha and because she is in jail and still awaiting sentencing, she could not talk directly to us.

“Samantha’s really just a 20-year-old kid with no prior record and has significant problems herself,” says LaVoy.

“If heroin was not available to my son, he would be here today,” states Lesa Treuden about her son, Dale. “You do need to blame the person who made that run and got him that poison.”

It is hard to imagine walking in anyone’s shoes that has felt the wrath of heroin in their lives.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anybody” says Dwyer.

Many times heroin is a life sentence, and even if it does not claim you or a loved one, it can shatter whatever life you are left with.

“I just hope people start understanding and treat addicts and their families with sensitivity,” Dwyer said holding back tears.