Group Fighting Local Heroin Addiction - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Group Fighting Local Heroin Addiction

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SEAFORD, Del. - Robert Spadaccini knows addiction well. He first started using Amphetamines when he was 21-years old. By 22 - when he returned from the Vietnam War - he was an addict.

"It became a way of just tuning out," he said. "Not having to deal with the rigors, the memories, the flashbacks."

More than a decade later - on his 34th birthday - his mother came to him, pleading for him to make a change. Fortunately for Spadaccini, he was able to do just that.

"I gave up on that day," he said. "I gave up alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes."

His story is a happy ending to a typically tragic story. As heroin use continues to grow, a new coalition gathered on Tuesday to try and nip the problem at it's source. That group - the Sussex County Action Prevention Coalition - gathered at the Lighted Pathway Family Life Center at 425 E. Stein Highway in Seaford.

The coalition uses a two-pronged approach, focusing not only on a community meeting, but also on a coalition of agencies, related to addiction. The latter group will meet on the first Tuesday of every month to discuss plans. Chairman Jim Martin said that they not only want to help addicts like Spadaccini, but also that they want to stop young people from trying drugs in the first place.

"For a problem this big," Martin said. "We need a village. There's no one agency or one idea that's going to get this thing solved. It's going to be all of us working together."

At Tuesday's meeting, the coalition spotlighted Beebe Healthcare, which presented on alarming numbers. More babies are suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome than in the past across the nation, including in Delaware. NAS occurs when a mother gives birth to a child, while using drugs.

At Beebe alone, the number of cases jumped from 19 in FY2013 to 38 in FY2014. So far in FY2015, there have been 10 cases of NAS.

Bridget Buckaloo of Beebe said that beyond the mere tragic nature of a suffering baby, there are financial implications as well. On average treatment of a baby, suffering from NAS, would cost the hospital $54,000.

"The healthcare expenditures for these babies are astronomical," she said. "And it's not just a Beebe problem. It's not just a Delaware problem. It's a national problem."

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