Organizations team up to fight heroin epidemic in Monroe Co. - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Organizations team up to fight heroin epidemic in Monroe Co.

(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)
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MONROE COUNTY, MI (Toledo News Now) -

Heroin and prescription drug abuse is destroying lives in Michigan at an alarming rate. Officials say it's an epidemic they need help to beat.

Monroe County labor unions and Crimestoppers are joining forces to fight against drug use. There will soon be billboards displayed around the county as part of the partnership.

The three unions donated $10,000 for the billboards, which are meant to raise awareness of drug abuse.

"Young, smart, talented and hardworking people are having their lives cut short," said John Broad, president and CEO of Crimestoppers of Michigan. "This epidemic is changing the entire face of neighborhoods."

"We may have a problem here with heroin and prescription drug abuse, but it's a problem we're willing to take on. We're going to give it all we have," added Chief Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Costello.

Joining in the fight are the Baraths, who lost their 25-year-old son Ryan in September of 2012 after a five-year battle with heroin addiction.

"We spent five years with our son, so we were there," said George Barath. "I saw tears in his eyes when he told me, ‘Dad, I can't beat it.'"

"It's hard to talk about it," added Sharon Barath. "But if it can save someone else, if I can give a sign of anything to show people what this drug can do, I'm right there."

Because heroin is cheap and easily accessible, the epidemic in Monroe is growing. Those fighting against it believe anonymous tips to Crimestoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (1-800-773-2587) are the first step in solving the problem.

"Now more than ever, people need to be the eyes and ears of their communities," Broad said.

"I remember that saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,'" said recovering addict Michael Gessner. "It takes the same thing to overcome this addiction."

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