Residents rallied outside the Springfield Police Division and Clark County Jail to raise awareness about the heroin epidemic Friday.
In Clark County about 500 people have died from drug-related overdoses since 1998. Last year 79 people died from drug overdoses in Clark County, a record number. There has been 32 suspected drug overdoses through February of this year, 12 of them confirmed as drug deaths and the others awaiting toxicology results.
The small group that formed Friday included former users as well as family members who lost loved ones to drugs. They carried home-made signs that said "Stop the Silence," "Stop the ODs; Quit Selling Dope" and "Life has Hope."
One of the organizers said they came together because the community needs to stand up and help those struggling with addiction.
Kelly Wise, a former addict at the rally, wanted people in Clark County to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
“A doctor prescribed pain pills," she said. "I was on pain pills for about two or three years and I couldn’t find a Percocet one day … and somebody said I have this and it was shot full of heroin and that is how I got started.”
Wise was addicted for six years.
“It’s immediate relief, it’s like if you are sick from no pills," she said. "It takes all of your feelings away, you’re lifeless. You are completely lifeless, it’s like you are zombie walking around.”
That wasn't appealing, Wise said, but once you start it’s hard to stop. She attended seven rehabilitation centers during that time. She kept going because she had friends around her who had been sober for at least 15 years. That gave her hope.
“It took me seven treatment centers to stop … and I’ve been clean eight months,” Wise said.
The group collectively said they're tired of overdoses and they want people to know help is available to those who seek it.
“My kid has seen a lot of things and to hear her say she is proud of me today, that’s a big deal,” Wise said.