Heroin Alert Aims to Fight and Prevent Growing Epidemic - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Heroin Alert Aims to Fight and Prevent Growing Epidemic

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 SEAFORD, Del. (WBOC) - On average, 15 people die each month from a drug overdose in Delaware and the number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction has reached its highest since 1987, according to state statistics. For many people in Sussex County, those aren't just statistics or numbers, it's their family.

A "heroin alert" program was held in Seaford Tuesday, to educate the community about the drug and addiction, and also to help those affected to join the fight against the deadly trend.

Cheryl Woods is not only a dedicated volunteer for Stein Highway Church of God. She also has a son struggling with drug addiction.

"He was in an accident, and then you know he started with the prescriptions," said Cheryl. "He should have went back in to the doctor and stayed on the medication, but I guess it was easier for him to go ahead and work and go and buy the heroin. It was cheaper."
 
Cheryl is just one of the people affected by addiction at the "heroin alert" program. The mission is to join the community together to create alternatives, work with the youth and prevent substance abuse.

A 24-year-old recovering addict from Georgetown didn't want to show his face on camera, but he did share his story with the group and with WBOC, with hopes that other young people would think twice before using drugs.

"I began using drugs and alcohol at age 12 or 13. As the years went on and progressed, I went from just drinking and smoking weed to using harder drugs occasionally," he said. "You know when I got kicked out of college I began using harder drugs more, more than recreationally, and then as my life continued to just downward spiral I began using heroin everyday intravenously."

He's been clean about four and a half months and says he's just taking it one step at a time right now.

"It's not all fun and games, there are responsibilities in life and that you know, you can't continue to do things to your own and to everyone else's detriment," he said.

C.J. Stephens lives in Lewes. He was an addict for eight years and is currently in recovery.

"This addiction, it takes no prisoners," said Stephens. "I mean any walk of life, you aren't exempt. I was very successful in school, very successful for my age, intelligent, bright, smart. I played sports. I was just a regular kid in the community and this just bit me in the [expletive] and just took me away."

The next step, the "Sussex County Action Prevention Coalition." Its mission is to implement an evidence based countywide substance abuse prevention system. Its vision is to use the strategic planning framework to employ a holistic approach to substance abuse prevention.

People were eager to volunteer their time to this new effort.

"Would you even dare to lay your life down for someone?," said Cheryl Woods. "I would if it come to it. To give up my life for my children, I would."

Cheryl also pleaded for her son to seek help or to seek a friend.

"I know you are hurting. I know you are struggling. I love you," she said.

The coalition is still getting started and they are currently seeking new members.
Their next meeting is scheduled for March 3 at the Lighted Pathways building on Stein Highway in Seaford.
For more information, contact Dupree Johnson by email djohnson@kscs.org

C.J. Stephens works with "Attack Addiction." Their next meeting is Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Bethel Church in Lewes.

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