SALISBURY, Md. -- Recovering heroin addicts, family members and city officials walked shoulder to shoulder during a candlelight vigil in Salisbury Wednesday evening.
The crowd of parents, spouses, and siblings affected by heroin and opiate abuse, as well as city and county officials, pledged their support to the fight against Delmarva's growing heroin epidemic.
The nonprofit group Shoulder to Shoulder to Beat Heroin Addiction hosted the vigil at Salisbury's Riverwalk Park.
Rick Prouse attended the vigil in support of his son who is currently recovering from drug abuse.
"He's six months clean," said Prouse of his son who was sent to Texas to recover.
"We had to get him out of here because of the rampant drug problems. After he buried some of his friends, that didn't seem to change his mind. We moved him," said Prouse.
Prouse said his son, an Afghanistan veteran, is battling an addiction to opioids. He said his son brought home insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder from the war.
"Before he went into the Army, his drugs of choice were Percocet and oxycodone. Then that became non-affordable so then he went to heroin," said Prouse.
A familiar story many can identify with along with its ill-fated end. For Tikeshia Whaley, the downward spiral usually starts with a serious need for medication.
"I was in pain management and I had surgeries done," said Whaley. "The doctor that I was seeing got institutionalized and I didn't know where else to get medication from because they weren't trying to give me any. So I just went to the next thing that would help me with my pain, which was opiates."
Whaley draws support from her mother who knows a thing or two about what she's going through.
"I was on crack for 10 years. And I've been recovered for 17, thank God," said Sheila Whaley with a sigh of relief embracing her 33-year old daughter.
There are a number of resources available to people fighting their own addiction or helping someone else fight theirs.
City officials say there are free Naloxone training programs to learn how to administer the anti-overdose drug. Those trainings are held at the Wicomico Public Library in Salisbury every second Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m.