Fourth is a series.

Marquese Seger already had a drinking problem and had already left rehab once for an addiction to prescription pills when he first tried heroin.

He was 18, he was drunk and he was angry from an earlier argument. A friend was getting high. He offered heroin to Marquese. It's the best high he could get, he said. It'd take away the anger.

Marquese was scared. The drug made him nervous, and he couldn't use the needle on himself. The friend tied off his right arm, inserted the needle for him. It was the start of a three-year heroin habit.

"I was higher than I ever was before. Ever. That was the highest I've ever been," he said Tuesday during an interview inside Northumberland County Prison.

Any day he had money, he'd buy heroin, and that was most days. He'd wake up and his first thoughts were about how he'd get money. He'd ask for it from his parents, or steal it, and he'd rifle through unlocked cars for change or anything he could sell. His dad, Job, said Marquese stole a Zippo handed down from Job's father. Marquese's father had to buy it back from a pawn shop.

By January of this year, Marquese was shooting up 1.5 grams of heroin a day. That's 15 bags at about $20 a piece.

"That's not even a lot in Shamokin. People do a lot more than that. Some people do 10 bag shots. They'll do five of them a day," said Marquese, 21, of Coal Township.

Can't go back

Marquese was 18 months old when he was adopted by Ronda and Job Seger. They adopted his two older brothers, too. They wanted to keep the three brothers together.

Ronda remembers her son, her baby, as a jokester. Job said the same, calls him the life of the party. He recalls Marquese donning a wrestling uniform and putting on a show for the family.

"Me, Ronda and his brothers were sitting there and just cracking up at the showman that he was," Job said.

Marquese treated his mom well, Job said. He helped around the house, cut the grass. His older brothers went off to college, and Ronda envisioned this for her youngest son, too.

His dad coached him at football. Job remembers him being eager to play, and said he was among the best players early on. But Marquese had other interests. He'd taken to alcohol, marijuana and pain killers like Oxycontin and Percocet. He'd been held back a year and was a 17-year-old sophomore when he quit the team. He dropped out of Shamokin Area High School that same year.

It eats at Marquese now. He played linebacker and fullback, said he was pretty good. He didn't get along with the coach at the time, his grades were slipping and there was talk that student-athletes would face drug testing. He knew he wouldn't pass one.

His arms folded, he leans forward in his chair and tilts his head downward. "Now, I wish I could go back," Marquese said.

'It was hell'

Marquese doesn't remember the first time he took pills. His dad said it happened after the boy injured a knee playing football and was given a prescription to numb the pain.

When Job broke an elbow, he kept his pain pills out of sight. Except once he didn't, and Marquese capitalized. Job said his son denied it for a while.

Ronda remembers finding her son passed out inside their home. That's when he confessed to having injected heroin. She'd pick him up once at a Williamsport hospital after he overdosed.

This was after she had already put her son in rehab when he was 17. He stayed five days before signing himself out.

Marquese once asked his mom to lock him in the attic for a week to keep him away from drugs. She thought it over and figured he'd have jumped out of a window.

"I pity any parent that has to go through this. I never cried so much in my life. It was hell," she said.

"A lot of people want to keep it hush-hush. Everybody wants to keep everything quiet. I face it. My kid was an addict. I tried to help him. What more can I do?"


Job calls himself the disciplinarian. He said he tried the tough love approach with his son. That was after needles and heroin were found inside one of Marquese's dresser drawers. Job kept him at arms length and waited for his son to come to him. He did. About a year before his arrest, Marquese started coming to his father's house to cut the grass without being asked. Job thought his son turned a corner. He didn't.

When Marquese was 20, he went to rehab with the same friend with whom he was doing heroin. Looking back, he said it was a dumb thing to do, going with a friend who was an addict. They stayed one day, walked out and bought dope.

"A week after that, I was in jail," he said.

That was in 2012. He was busted stealing from cars. He'd meet that same fate earlier this year, following a string of thefts between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9. Police said he stole from 15 cars, making off with a watch, an iPod, money, lottery tickets, birthday cards, gift cards and a purse.

A month before that, just two days after Christmas, Marquese stole his father's debit card and withdrew more than $500.

When he was jailed in January, a friend was already inside. The friend had a drug habit, too, but that friend got bailed out. The next week when Job visited, Marquese shared the news: his friend died of an overdose.

Asking for help

Marquese pleaded guilty to a slew of theft and related charges earlier this month and was sentenced in county court to serve between 9 months and 23 months.

Marquese said he was approved for drug rehab but a probation detainer prevented that. He couldn't get into drug court, either.

Job said his son deserved to be held accountable for his crimes. Job refused to drop the charge from the debit card theft, but he said sitting in jail is doing Marquese no good. He needs treatment, and he hopes the court system is modified to offer drug treatment options for people with chemical dependencies.

Marquese agrees he needs help, said he's going to sign up for drug and alcohol classes through the county. He wishes he'd been sent to rehab instead of prison.

"I want to get help. I still need help, obviously. That's lifelong," Marquese said.

Looking forward

Job and Ronda split about four years ago. Their divorce was finalized just last year. They alternate weekly jail visits. Job was heading there Tuesday night; Ronda will go next week.

Marquese did a lot of bad stuff when he was hooked on drugs and alcohol, and the addiction was the cause of it all, Job said. At his heart, he's a good kid.

"He's a loving kid. He has a great heart," he said. "He never hangs up the phone, leaves my house, leaves anywhere without telling me he loves me and gives me a kiss."

Marquese had detoxed in county jail. He slept for four or five days. When he was awake, he was in pain. He's feeling better now and has gained 30 pounds since he was first incarcerated. He's just recently been approved for work release.

When he gets out, he plans to go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He wants to go to a drug treatment facility and get a job. He doesn't want to go back to jail.

"Right now, I'm fine. I don't need to do drugs. I'm not gonna. I'm too far in to mess it up again," he said.

Marquese is burdened by his addiction. He said he lost a lot of friends. His relationship with his mother is solid, he said, but it's strained with his father. He worries how he'll be judged in the community, but is hopeful that by sharing his story, someone will be helped. He hopes it's a kid because he hears a lot of local kids are doing drugs.

Marquese has been in jail since his Jan. 9 arrest. He'll celebrate his 22nd birthday Saturday, and he'll do so from behind the walls of the county prison unsure of what lays ahead when he's likely released this fall.