A heroin story, full of heartache;
Jimmy Galante OD’s at 26
Updated 9:35 am, Wednesday, January 4, 2017
This now familiar but still tragic story has a face, a story, a young addict, his family’s pain, all cursed by heroin. Jimmy lived in a middle class bedroom community of Albany, the state capital of New York just across the Hudson from Troy. Another community hit hard by heroin deaths is Postenkill to the East of Troy and the home of my daughter and her family and is another middle class community. Most of the victims are in their 20s who got hooked on powerful prescription pain pills when they were teens. Now that the doctors have limited these prescriptions, the cheap and available drug is heroin which costs only a few dollars. Along with the severe addictive components is the fact that the heroin is laced with all sorts of unknown substances unknown to the buyer who only wants a high and many die in the process.
To emphasize this as a worldwide problem, in 2017, a new version of “Trainspotting” is planned for released. The first film was released in 1996 and is available on YouTube.com. The tragic problem is still around!
Jimmy Galante almost broke free from the hell of heroin.
His mother found him two days after Christmas, in his bedroom at her home in Latham. There were needles and tiny empty glassine envelopes on a desk near his body. He was 26 years old.
He had been an altar boy at Saint Ambrose Church in Latham, where his funeral Mass was held the day after New Year’s. He was laid to rest in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery.
His father is a retired Albany cop, James Joseph Galante Sr.
Jimmy was on the road to becoming a heroin success story and living a happy, drug-free life. He had completed 16 months of intensive residential treatment at Hospitality House in Albany and had been clean for more than two years before his fatal relapse.
He had been blessed with second and third, and more, chances at sobriety.
He stole cash and jewelry and prescription medication from his mother and burned a lot of bridges.
He had been brought back from near-death with Narcan in a hospital emergency room a few years earlier. He had spent time in jail after washing out of several rehab programs. Drug court gave him a fighting chance.
Galante’s family has set up a GoFundMe fundraising campaign for Hospitality House. For those wishing to contribute in Jimmy Galante’s memory, go to
He had dark eyes, soft cheeks and a shy grin.
There was a life before the wreckage of heroin, a happy one. He was a Cub Scout and played Little League baseball. He was a good guitar player and loved heavy metal music. He joined a band, Lycanthrope, and they got a gig at the old Saratoga Winners.
He was wicked smart and won a free trip to Disney World put up by a high school teacher who was amazed after Jimmy aced a practice Regents exam before they had even covered the material in class.
He took classes at Hudson Valley Community College and worked as an installer at a window company and was a star employee. Until heroin dragged him down, once again, in its toxic undertow.
Recently, he had been having heart-to-heart talks with his mother, Marytheresa Galante. He spoke frankly about his heroin addiction, which started with snorting it for the first time six years ago to try to impress a girl he had a crush on.
He eventually shot up as he “chased the dragon,” seeking an ever-elusive high. His addiction soon enough became less about achieving euphoria and more about keeping at bay the horrendous and intense flu-like symptoms of withdrawal.
“He told me that when you’re dope-sick, you’ll kill your mother for $100,” Marytheresa Galante said.
His drug use morphed from smoking pot with buddies as a teenager at Shaker High School and Christian Brothers Academy. His parents transferred him to CBA his junior year because they wanted more discipline for their wayward son and to get him away from druggie friends.
“I was so naive back then,” his mother said. “It was just a better class of drug user.”
Heroin does not recognize ZIP codes or adhere to any kind of social boundary. It has left a long trail of heartache, devastation and death on dozens of families across the Capital Region for the past few years.
In a notebook his mother recently bought him, Jimmy wrote the names of friends who had died of heroin overdoses. The list, incomplete, stopped at 14. Four others were in prison.
He was friends with some of those whose harrowing heroin stories I have written about, including Dan Flood and Patty Farrell’s daughter, Laree, who died of a heroin overdose at 18 in 2013. Flood, 26, of Guilderland, who failed a dozen treatment programs and has spent time in jail, is homeless again in downtown Albany. He is a familiar sight as he panhandles just off Interstate 787 at the Madison Avenue exit. Galante always stopped to talk to Flood when he saw him out there by the highway, holding a rumpled cardboard sign. He would pass his friend a few bucks.
Galante’s father and Farrell, also a retired Albany cop, went way back. His mother has a snapshot of Jimmy with Patty Farrell at a Halloween party when he was about 3 years old. Jimmy was dressed in a little policeman’s uniform.
“It breaks my heart every time I see it,” his mother said.
Ironically, at 15, Jimmy came home from a friend’s house with a tattoo on his leg: XXX Straight Edge. It was their pact never to do drugs again. That friend, 22, died of a drug overdose at his parents’ Loudonville home in 2013. His family has not publicly shared his heroin story.
His mother posted this on Facebook last week: “Heroin addiction is a tragedy for the person it has control over as well as their family. Time to stop all the shame and secrecy. Before one more child dies.”
She got a message from a Shenendehowa High School teacher who said she knew seven former students who died of heroin overdoses in the past two years.
Young Do has been a counselor and clinical director at Hospitality House for the past 11 years. He’s seen the clients in the 72-bed facility on Central Avenue in Albany shift from primarily alcoholics in their mid-30s to mostly heroin addicts in their early 20s. Dozens are on a waiting list. Officials are searching for a larger building in the wake of the heroin epidemic.
“It’s still getting worse,” said Do, noting there has been a recent surge of new stronger, cheaper synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which have flooded the local market with a grim lethality.
Galante’s family is raising money for Hospitality House in Jimmy’s memory.
“They gave me my son back, at least for a little while,” his mother said.
She sobbed when she looked at a photograph of last summer’s family vacation in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Jimmy was clean. His younger brother and sister were there. It was the first time in six years they were all together. She hadn’t seen him healthier or happier in a long while.
Jimmy Galante ultimately could not escape what his mother called “this terrible demon.”
He was just a sweet kid from the suburbs.
May he rest in peace.
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