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Families Affected by Heroin Epidemic to Hold Candlelight Vigil in Salisbury

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The rise in heroin addiction has led more than 200 parents and family members to come out tonight for a candlelight vigil at the Salisbury Riverwalk Park at 5:30 p.m. tonight (9/16).

Many have lost loved ones to the epidemic or have loved ones who are still battling their addiction.

Among those in attendance tonight will be City Council Vice President Laura Mitchell whose loved one has been battling heroin.

She describes handling such a situation and says that it is “a very tough balance between the anger and the love, and knowing where that line is between enabling them and loving them and trying to help them. It’s a constant struggle. There is never an end to it. But today we’re doing well. That’s all you can do -- one day at a time."

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Council Vice President Laura Mitchell

Addiction

There has been a dramatic increase in heroin use in Wicomico County.

It ranks sixth in the state for heroin addiction with 20 people dying last year from drug overdose.

Many times, experts say, the addiction begins with prescription drugs.

Mitchell notes that doctors often tell patients that, “I think you’re as good as you’re going to get. You’re just going to have to live with the pain. Or I’m not going to write you anymore prescriptions. And they’re just cut off. And, that often sends them toward street drugs and heroin.”

Treatment

Wicomico County has only one of two Methadone clinics on the Eastern Shore. The number of patients using the methadone treatment program since 2011 went from 25 to 270. 

Mitchell says, there is a sense of frustration at the alternatives available.

“We want to send them to detox. We want to send them to jail. We want to put them in programs through the legal system, the court system, that don’t always offer the basics to get you to the root cause. We’re constantly working on the symptoms instead of the cause. And, it’s very, very frustrating.”

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Also among the elected leaders expected to attend are City Council President Jake Day Delegate Sharee Sample-Hughes and Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello.

Don Rush is the News Director at Delmarva Public Media. An award-winning journalist, Don reports major local issues of the day, from sea level rise, to urban development, to the changing demographics of Delmarva.