Here, the opioid crisis is bigger than politics. As rehab centers replace pill mills, an Ohio River city fights back

Dale King, owner of the Portsmouth Spartan Kettlebell Club, drove his 1946 Jeep though downtown. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Dale King rumbled into the parking lot in his military Jeep, a black 1940s-style clunker that he maneuvered with a skull-tipped stick shift. Heavy metal music blasted from the garage that he and some friends had converted to a gym for the neighboring addiction center.

Patients from next door were packed inside wearing worn T-shirts, faded athletic gear, and other hand-me-downs. Half the class were barefoot. Some wore jeans, others ankle monitors.

It was October 2018, and King, a 38-year-old retired Army intelligence officer turned fitness trainer, characteristically got straight to the point.

“Who here has overdosed?”