Fond du Lac County addressing heroin abuse

FOND DU LAC – A dangerous drug problem on the rise across Wisconsin is growing in Fond du Lac County.

Community members are coming together this week in a first step to fight heroin addiction.

“Two thirds of Americans are affected by addiction in one form or another. We need to stop living like these are isolated events,” said Douglas Darby.

Douglas Darby is a recovering heroin addict.

So is Anthony Alvarado.

“We’re really going to be bringing a little bit of education and awareness…educating the crowd about the dangers of drugs, the dangers of substance abuse, because it is thriving in our community,” said Anthony Alvarado.

Both will talk about their addictions at Fond du Lac County’s very first Heroin Summit this week.

Mary Gerlach, who serves as the executive director of Fond du Lac’s Beacon House, sees the effects of heroin on a regular basis.

“We only serve women and we have 12 beds at Beacon House and over the last three years, two/three years, it’s been increasingly more heroin addicts. They’re young women…19/20/21 years old,” said Gerlach.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice says the number of heroin cases processed by the state crime lab has steadily increased in almost every county throughout the last three years.

In Fond du Lac County, there was one heroin related death in 2008.

Two years later there were two. In 2011, the number of heroin related deaths stayed at two.

The number increased to six in 2012.

Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney sees first-hand how drug addictions are affecting the community.

“One of the hardest things to see is when someone takes advantage of a family member. It’s very difficult for a family to sometimes turn in a brother, a sister, or a son, a daughter and then they get taken advantage of whether it’s they steal their credit card, they steal their checks, the steal money from them,” said Toney.

Organizers say they hope more community members can come together to understand the problem and help reduce drug abuse.

The event will be held Tuesday, March 11 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Stayer Center at Marian University.

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