Local communities work to fight the epidemic of heroin use

MONROE, Mich. (WXYZ) - It's becoming an epidemic that is killing teens and young adults in southeast Michigan.

Macomb and Oakland counties have reported a rise in deaths related to heroin.  But they're not the only ones.  Heroin use has hit one community especially hard.

" That good.  It's that addictive.  If he had to choose he'd rather have heroin," said Thayer Stump.  Thayer's friend told him he would choose heroin over sex.

Whether you inject or inhale it.  The immediate rush of pleasure is what gets users hooked.

"It's like you have to have it again.  They say it's an unbelievable feeling, said Bob Zubkoff.

"My brother tells me it's the love of his life," said Megan McCollum.

These families say heroin has been breaking hearts in Monroe for long enough.

Every time you get on Facebook or you open the newspaper another one of your friends are gone," said Thayer.

As of early November 33 people have died from drug overdoses in Monroe this year; 13 of the deaths directly related to heroin.  Soon they will surpass last year's numbers where 40 people died from drug overdoses; fourteen of those deaths directly related to heroin.

When asked Thayer if he ever talked to his son about drugs and about drinking he said, all the time.  I begged him.  No dad, I don't do that stuff," said Thayer.

Thayer's 18-year-old son T.J. tried heroin for the first time in February.  It was also his last.

"They left him there.  Left him there to die," said Thayer.

T.J and two of his friends partied in a hotel room until T.J. overdosed and died.  His friends were too afraid to call 911.  They were high too and didn't want to get in trouble.

"So if they would've called 911 I would still have my son today," said Thayer.

When Bob Zubkoff's son Jake died from a heroin overdose he was only 22-years-old.

"This was like a total shock.  I still don't understand it," said Zubkoff.

The dealer who sold his son heroin served four years in prison.  She recently got out.  Now he's afraid she will help drive someone else's child to their death.

"I've seen kids walk up to my son's casket at the funeral home and just bust up crying like oh my God.  And then three months later they're dead," said Zubkoff.

Megan McCollum is afraid her brother will end up in a grave just like Zubkoff and Thayer's sons.

"Burying him.  That I will bury him.  I wait for it every day," said McCollum.

She said her brother has overdosed a couple of times and he's already wrecked a few cars.

"It's been very close.  That's why I wait for it every day," said McCollum.

She said there is nowhere in the county for teens and young adults to get long term professional help.

"Give us the resources we need for these kids," said McCollum.

McCollum is organizing a rally for November 22 in front of Monroe's City Hall to let city officials know they do not want to be known as the heroin capitol of the region.

"We're done watching our kids die.  We're done," said McCollum.

If you or someone you know needs help with a heroin addiction and treatment, you can call SEMCA (800) 686-6543. They are also online at SEMCA.org.

A 24 hour crisis hotline in Macomb County:  (586) 307-9100.  If you need access to a substance abuse helpline in Macomb County you can call :(586) 541-2273.

If you live in Oakland County and need treatment or information you can call Prior Authorization and Central Evaluation (PACE) at: 248-858-5200.

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