Here’s what you know about the 740

The response to the video by RWR, the Portsmouth, Ohio rap group, has been extraordinary.

So I sifted through the comments for some excerpts that tell the story of a small American town that is beaten down and rising up.


“…I’m 60 yes old….have lived here since I was 9. I cry when I see what had become of the town I grew up in. I remember a downtown that was filled with stores and restaurants. Christmas shopping was magical. Shoulder to shoulder, bellsIMG_4113 ringing… You could find anything you wanted! There were no Kmarts, Walmarts or malls. …”


“…We never locked doors and never had to worry. Now we live behind closed locked doors with alarms on them. The working class is worried about keeping what they have while the others steal to get what we work for. Kids being raised by grandparents because of the drugs here….”


“Drugs have been prominent as early as Dr.Lily and Dr.Proctor. With a steady and fast decline ever sense then. With businesses shutting down. No work around the area….”


“…Watched the girl next door go from straight A’s to prison in just two years from the first O/C. watched my son’s friend go from valedictorian to living in his own filth, without any utilities. … At one point the estimate was that of every 10 adults in Scioto county, 7 were addicted to oxycontin. think about this. you go to the store, the clerk is high. you take your dog to a vet, you see the pinprick pupils. you stop at the post office, you see the obvious proof of addiction, it is … as if someone crop dusted the county. with opiate.”IMG_0637 - Version 2


“… knew our town was on trouble when people young and old were lined up down Chillicothe (the main street in Portsmouth) to see the pain pill doctor. Or maybe it was when I bought pills from friends Grandmother. Or how about when I saw a former high school cheerleader walking the stro….’


“…I got pregnant I was unable to stop so my son was taken from me n I went to treatment immediately after five weeks of treatment my father was shot and killed robbing theCarry out…”


“…You can’t leave the house alone without fear of coming up missing to never be heard from again….”


“…You got to survive the 740 is what the hell I know….”


“…My daughter is an addict in early recovery. She was in the top 10 of her graduating class, and on the dean’s list at SSU…until the dope got to her. She went from pain pills, to heroin, to meth. … She got busted and sent to jail. … Maybe I never paid enough attention, maybe I was just to busy trying to work to survive. Maybe I just didn’t want to believe that things were so bad in our town….”


“…I’ve only been free from prison since May 31st,2013 and I know I can’t go back to living in Portsmouth….”

___IMG_0549 - Version 2

“…I noticed an out-of-towner at a coffee shop and asked what brought her to town. She was on a boat trip down (and back) the entire length of the Ohio River. In all her trip preparations, no one had ever mentioned Portsmouth. She had pot lucks and stops scheduled in towns all along the river, but stopped in Portsmouth by accident, to pick up supplies. She added a couple of days to her itinerary to look around. “What happened here?” she asked. “This was a real city once,” she said. “All the buildings are taller than a lot of places I’ve stopped. But it seems like a ghost town.”


“…7-4-0 reminds me of my hometown, Elkhart, Indiana (574). Elkhart was built on the pharmaceutical, band instrument, and musical instrument manufacturing industries. Because of the mobile home industry, it tags along with the fortunes of Detroit. Don’t know about heroin, but backpack meth and home meth labs (one blew up across the street from the high school) are everywhere….”


“…WTH do I know about the 740? I was born and raised here I watched it go from a quiet little town, where you didn’t have to be afraid to go out at night, or lock your doors, to a poverty sticken, low job rate, drug capitol. Portsmouth is starting to fight back finally …”IMG_4083


“…went to prison cause I couldn’t stay clean my mom did a lot by raising my oldest most of her life,sometimes it’s like a never ending battle,but we do have recovery in our town,an once again back in treatment…”


“…am a mother who use to addict to pain pills been to prison twice and finally went to treatment in the 740 which changed my life for ever.Now I have been working full time for 5 years going back to school to finish my degree and have overcome a lot trying to stay clean and sober it is possible in the 740…”


“…I’m currently involved with a group of people who are looking to start a worker cooperative in the city as a IMG_0659 - Version 2means of providing work and education for the unemployed. …”


“…here are 2 options: be the change you want to see, or change your surroundings & the people you spend your time with!…”


“…I am finishing my Master’s in natural resources and environmental science so I can publish research on this post industrial town and its resulting drug addiction….”


“…we are recovering like crazy down here in little ole Portsmouth!!! I also know one of the men in the video, watched him grow into adulthood and become a GREAT man, a father, and a caretaker despite all of the hurdles that he faced, and he really did beat the odds…”


“…I personally have overcome my past, and will not let the downfalls of MY hometown get me down or pull me back! I did it and so can you Portsmouth!!!! All you need is a lil inspiration, and thats what these men are!!!…”


“…I really dont like rap i usually listen to country but i loved this song n so proud of them….”


“…What I know about the 740 is good people are doing something about it….”IMG_3327 - Version 2


“…The people here need to save our “740″. No one is going to do it for us….”


“…I’m still here and I recently just got out of rehab….”


“…No longer does this have to be a “junkies town”, or “drug infested” … she is inching herself back to be the home I grew up in. A place where doors are left unlocked at night. A place where its okay to send your children to the store. … It doesn’t come easy. It will get better though. (progress not perfection) I’m an addict. My story and the stories of many of my fellow addicts are similar to the story of our city. We can/do Recover. Today I am proud, honored, and happy to say that I am living in the solution and not in the problem….with that I pass….”


So that’s Portsmouth’s story, folks. Share it if you like it.

Tell me yours. Leave it in Comments.

And follow me: On Twitter.  On Facebook.

Here’s my website:


More posts from True Tales: A Reporter’s Blog:

Here’s what I know about the 7-4-0

Where have you seen the 740?

I who am your Mother … The Virgin of Guadalupe


Filed under Culture, Drugs, Global Economy, The Heroin Heartland

10 Responses to Here’s what you know about the 740

  1. A survivor

    I moved to portsmouth when i was 14, lived there for 4 years. While there I got addicted to pain pills, shot in my leg by a drunk kid and watched so many of my friends die or go to prison. I dropped out of high school in 10th grade. When I turned 18, i left for Dayton to go o Job Corps. I returned when I was 19. Same routine, got back on the pills. I left again and got clean in northern ohio. I went back to visit when i was 22 and tried to “save” a close friend. I took him from portsmouth and ended up going back with him. While there i contracted Hep C from him because he was shooting dope. I now live out of state and am clean again and i spend everyday fighting to survive for my two children! I wish i had went a different route in portsmouth. You get so caught up in doing what others are doing. I try to stay in touch but after the lost of another close friend to the drugs, its harder because i cant handle the heart break anymore. I pray portsmouth can get back to what it use to be before the drugs took over! RWR has the ability to open the doors for more change! People want to be proud of their town again. I hope they get to experience that pride again before its too late! I never got to see what portsmouth was like before the drugs but id like to see what it becomes!

  2. Brandon

    What do I know? I grew up there. I went to school there. I played peewee football there. I boated and fished the river. I played in the parks. I went to parades. I experienced it. With that being said, I could never see myself moving back there. There are very few good jobs and the people that have them would never let them go.

    It is a shame to see what happened. Starting in 1998, I would come back every few years to visit. I saw it progressively worsen over the years to rock bottom, which is where it is now. Sure, you can blame the pill mill peddlers – deservedly so. But what about the Chamber of Commerce? What about the City Council? Remember all those businesses that were “supposed to” show up? Remember the mall? Guess who voted those businesses out and guess who protected their interests as opposed to the interests of the city? That is what left people with nowhere to turn.

    I hope what is happening now continues. I hope this initiative doesn’t turn into a conversation between two people a few years in the future. I hope it becomes more than this:

    “Remember those guys from a few years back that made those songs about Portsmouth? Yeah, they kind of disappeared there after awhile, huh? They got a lot of people excited about changing the area for the better. What a shame… But hey, I heard they were thinking about building a mall down here.”

  3. Mark

    I grew up in the Portsmouth area. I remember when the streets were lined with stores and my parents took me downtown to shop in the very early 80’s. Hotdog man on the corner of Chillicothe and Gallia…people saying hi and meaning hello and not asking a question.
    Anymore its all gone to crap and the Portsmouth City Council as well as Neil Hatcher and Frank Gerlach are to blame. An example of this type of douchbaggery is Neil and Frank prevented a mall from coming in downtown due to the both of them owning most of the property and hoping to get rich…the developers just decided to go elsewhere. The city decided to paint murals on the flood wall…great idea to draw people there but what do they do after the 5 mins of looking at them? The city ignored the pill mill problem for a decade and only addressed it when the town was featured on A&E. They do not pay the police officers enough or employ enough of them to be able to canvass the streets effectively. Hell they cant even stop bickering over the Martings building!

    I have seen many river towns prosper after they lost their major industry (Steel in Portsmouth area) but yet this town council seems to bicker and waste money. Change will have to come from the people and it has to start with finding qualified, non biased, leadership for the town. They will also need tax dollar revenue from working people or tap into the many U.S. Government revitalization projects that they give grant money for. Since the jobs are scarce in the town (SOMC is the only thing really in the town paying employees that is worth taxing) you can see the U.S. Government option is their best bet.

    Need to tear down the crap buildings…declare imminent domain on the drug houses/buildings that refuse to sell or be cleaned up…greenify the city by cleaning it up (trash cans placed in high traffic areas..street sweepers that go out daily etc..), planting vegetation, make nice parks with ponds, invest in renewable resources for the city (solar power for small things etc.), and lure in businesses to use the older buildings plus show them some great property you just razed so they can build on. That is just to name a few things that could be changed for the better in the city to draw in quality people and businesses. It will take a lot of time to do these things but might as well start today.

    So what to do with the drug addicts?…well they were not always drug addicts. You could bolster up the police force and sweep the town…requiring them to go through a quality drug rehab program that they are not allowed to leave until clean. This of course would have to be funded by the U.S. Government since the local tax dollars are not there and yes there are plenty of grants for this…just need effort on the part of the Scioto County Commissioners to request it and get the backing of the local representatives to the state as well as U.S. Senators and Representatives.

    The sad thing is though this is not just a Portsmouth problem. It’s a Scioto County problem as a whole. The surrounding communities need to also take a stand and put pressure on the people breaking the law. Not saying vigilantism but don’t fear these people. Own your town and community. Don’t let them own it. Walk your streets and have community gatherings in a very public place. Have community carnivals and come up with reasons for parades as an example…have the community out in force. Criminals do not like a lot of good people out walking around screwing up their secret life and tend to move away. Get to know your neighbor…say hi and have cookouts..lean against a fence and find out how your neighbors day went. Own your community. Video tape the criminals doing stupid crap…call the Sherrifs office with the video proof….If the Sheriff does not do anything then remind him/her at election time of the duty of the office. In all fairness the Scioto County Sheriffs office needs to have more deputies and paid better too. They need to be funded well enough to handle the task.

    The above is not meant to be a silver bullet. It is just an example of some things that the City could do that they are not doing, or if they are not very well at all, that could turn around the City. It all starts with leadership…need to clean out that council once and for all…problem is you need to find quality leaders to replace them with. Good luck Portsmouth.

  4. Jarrett

    Ive lived here my whole life and seen alot of changes I’m also a recovering drug addict/alcoholic, started using at a young age to try and numb reality, I didnt want to feel, ive done my share of dirt here selling drugs to feed my habit which progressed rather quickly. Overdosed in 2007 and was in a nursing home brain dead for a while but God had other plans, I tried to get clean to make my mom happy in 07 with the suboxone program and that didnt work for me. Finally in 08 God gave me a blessing in the form of police officers. I was introduced to treatment then. I did 90 days in treatment and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. I completed treatment then straight to prison. During my stay in treatment I learned how to live a different way and I loved it. Went to prison and continued to work on me and my recovery and was granted a judicial release. I am now blessed to work with other guys that are struggling with addiction and trying to get clean. I have people ask me all the time how you do it here in portsmouth ( recover) I say its not portsmouth its me…. I love my town and strive daily to make it a better place to live. I once was that junkie that was worthless. Now I have a purpose in life and its to live and carry the message of recovery… people do and can recover in portsmouth… we gotta be the change we want to see…..

  5. Michelle

    I grew up in the 740 all my life and watched the stores shut down, the businesses leave, the unemployment rise, and the addiction rise. I have personally witnessed the struggle. We can preach all we want about the problems and consequences, however, we cannot make the deals to bring the jobs back to the 740. It is up to our community leaders to do that, but can we trust the leaders? As it states in the video, most of them are crooked. It saddens me that I don’t feel as if the town I grew up in is not safe enough for me to go back and raise my children.

  6. Angela

    I see so many grandparents rasing their grandchildren because of the drugs in this town. I am a single mom with no help from my sons dad, who is a druggie. My son is 9 hasnt seen his dad since he was 2. And if you dont think the effect of not having his dad doesnt cause him saddness and mental issuses you are crazy. He stuggles every day. These kids are the true victims.

  7. James

    I too grew up in Portsmouth and I also lost myself in Portsmouth. I have since found myself also in Portsmouth and have been clean for 3 years the 29th of September. I have to say the town has come along way in getting rid of the pill mills, but for every pill dealer gone a heroin dealer has taken its place. I would love to see a proud city full of work in the place where one once stood! But sadly I think the industry is gone from Portsmouth forever. I truly hope I am wrong and it can fight its way all the way back!

    When I was using drugs I took advantage of all the drugs Portsmouth had to offer. I was hooked on pain pills for a long 10 years. Before that I smoked marijuana and drank a lot but was totally against pills. Following that first pill though was a love like I never dreamed. That dream spiraled quickly though into a nightmare! I took advantage of everyone I could, I lied, cheated, stole, and robbed to feed my addiction. Luckily I found hope in people that cared and gave their time to help me. I spent 60 days in rehab and 4 months after I left I relapsed for 3 months. I then found that my group of hope of still there waiting on me to realize I needed help again. This time it has stuck so far and like I said 2 years 11 months and 2 weeks I have clean to prove it works if you work it! But I know my addiction is still there, doing jumping jacks, and waiting on me to slip up.

    Recovery Happens!

    One day at a time!

  8. Michelle

    I was raised here but left in 1994 due to my own addiction and drug dealings. I went to Columbus and started my education only to come back to reestablish a relationship with my family. While still continuing me education I still tried to stay clean but relapsed. My sister followed me back here and cried in fear of what she lived as a child here. She died 5 years later due to addiction. I have since tried to carry on here but employment has left me struggling to survive here. Where am I to go? I want to remain here but feeling dismayed by the lack of options. Don’t want to turn my back and go. Want to do my part…..

  9. Mia

    I grew up in the 740 moved away 2 yrs ago 3 of my children are recovering addicts and all but one has moved from there but she too will move soon. I am very proud of the boys who made the video and pray they all succeed

    • Chris

      I grew up in the 740. I have lost family members to the drug use that runs rampant in this community, some by death and others by the hopelessness and destruction it leaves behind even after the drug abuse has ended. I don’t blame the users or the drugs …. I blame the uncaring city politicians who refuse to help or care about the young people in this small lost community. I am very proud of these boys for the courage to rise above the hopelessness of it all. Rap On!

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