From big cities to small towns, heroin use and abuse is on the rise.
That includes here in Northeast Wisconsin, where the Fond du Lac Fire Department is seeing a 30% increase in overdose-related calls.
In 2014, paramedics administered the drug Narcan to 26 individuals in life-threatening situations. That’s twice as many as in 2013.
Wednesday night, hundreds gathered to learn more about the drug, and to share stories on its impact. Among those in attendance, Bridgette Henschel, who lost her daughter to a heroin overdose in 2012.
“Amalia was your typical all-american good girl. She had good grades, she had lots of friends, she played sports,” says Henschel. “She met up with this so-called friend that we didn’t know that gave her heroin, and within a couple hours, Amalia was dead.”
It’s a story that’s becoming more frequent, as the drug moves out of the inner-city and into suburban America.
“Mine was very much that classic story of prescription medication,” says recovering addict Douglas Darby. “We all hear that word heroin and we think scary, dirty, it’s a drug that people go to die on. It’s becoming more socially acceptable.”
Paramedics in Fond du Lac say they’re seeing the drug used primarily by people between 20 and 30, but also by teens and older adults.
“This is not unique to one demographic, whether it be low income or racial, it’s all over the community,” says Paramedic Todd Janquart.
All parties involved say education and parental-awareness is key
“The scariest words any parent can say, is ‘not my kid,” says Darby. “Do you think at 15 years of age, I said ‘man, when I grow up, I want to be a junkie?’ That wasn’t in the plan.”
His group ‘Rise Together’ now works with at-risk teens to steer them away from heroin use. Summit organizers say groups like these are critical in stopping the spread of the epidemic.
For more information on Rise Together, click here: www.weallrisetogether.org/