Seaford Community Takes Action Against Heroin "Epidemic" - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Seaford Community Takes Action Against Heroin "Epidemic"

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SEAFORD, Del. - In the Lighted Pathways building in Seaford, about 65 people crammed into the room to fight a problem, many are calling an epidemic: heroin.

In the room were mothers who have lost children, troopers who have seen countless victims, and even former users who told WBOC addiction is a daily battle.

The program, which originated in New Castle County is called “Heroin Alert,” and it focuses on education and awareness.

One of the most emotional moments of the presentation was when the image of Erin Allen was put up on the screen. The photos started when she was a young child, and continued until her death from a heroin overdose at age 21.

The founder of the program Marie Allen explained, emotion clearly in her voice, that this child was her daughter, who passed away almost 20 years ago. Although heartbroken by the death, Allen decided to turn her pain into action, creating the program.

“It can happen in any household,” she said. “It doesn't matter. You don't need to be living in the inner city. Anybody can be affected by this.”

Allen was joined by troopers, nurses, and community leaders. The presentation, included photos of various victims of heroin overdoses. Allen said the goal of the event was to reach young people before they start to use drugs.

“I think if we give them the honest information,” she said. “Instead of just saying 'don't do it. It will kill you.' Instead to show them. And I think we do show them pretty much everything in the program.”

Dupree Johnson, an administrator at the Kids Sussex Community Services, said that he's seen the escalation of the problem. Johnson started using heroin when he was just 9-years old. He proceeded to use drugs for close to four decades, before stopping seven years ago. Now his goal is to keep kids from making his mistakes.

“The solution is prevention,” he said. "I mean we spend millions of dollars for preventative medicines, preventative health programs when it comes to health agencies. But when it comes to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, we wait until there's a problem.”

The Seaford event was put on by the Seaford Church of God in collaboration with the ACE Center and a group called “Shift Density.” The event primarily focused on prevention, but there was also a focus on treatment, as many former users were in attendance as well.

Brandy Rash, who has been clean for 60 days, was at the event with her four year old son. She told WBOC that it was her son that inspired her to quit the drugs.

“He's why I'm getting clean,” she said. "If I didn't have him, I don't know if I'd be able to get clean. Cause it's bigger than me. You know what I mean. He depends on me.”

Jason Hassett has been clean for 15 days, and painted the picture for WBOC about what addiction looks like for him.

"Every day, it's the getting and using of something,” he said. “And not even wanting to. It's complete misery. But you wanna keep doing it just because your body and your mind wants it.”

Mary Havens, who has been clean for 30 days, said that she only took action when she hit “rock bottom.”

“It's scary,” she said. "I mean, I lost everything. My house. Everything. It's very scary. Moved back in with my parents. Now it's just starting over.”

WBOC caught up with various police officers from multiple agencies who said that the declining usage of prescription drugs is to blame. Not only has it become more difficult to get these drugs, but also heroin is far less expensive. This has lead to a problem of heroin addictions across the country.

"There's heroin here,” said Allen. "Believe me. And there's young people getting addicted to it. It's not just up in North Wilmington. It's everywhere. It's the whole state. The whole United States is getting flooded with heroin."

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