Heroin Task Forces Tackles Drug Epidemic

MGN Online
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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Heroin continues to be a growing problem in the Stateline. So far this year, there have been 14 heroin-related deaths and six deaths involving both heroin and cocaine. Local lawmakers and agencies are trying to get the drug epidemic under control.

Kelly Pearson, 26, plays with her son five-year-old son Jackson, something that wasn't a priority when she was addicted to heroin. Pearson says she was hooked on the drug for nearly ten years and overdosed more than sixty times while in and out of rehab.

"I remember many, many times calling trying to get into Detox, you make those phone calls, calling them, begging 'can you let me in,'" explains Pearson.

Pearson says there weren't always treatment beds available when she was ready to get clean. She's been off heroin for about three years and is now advocating for different types of treatment.

She says, "Treatment should be more about getting your life together, moving forward with your life, trying to get a job, an education."

A state heroin task force made up of nearly 40 local legislators is considering more funding for treatment and education. The group is getting feedback during statewide hearings. Bonnie Falzone-Capriola co-founded the support group Hope Over Addiction after losing her son Barry to heroin three years ago.

"It's okay to talk about it and the more you talk about it, the more resources you find and it just starts that ball rolling," says Falzone-Capriola.

Pearson wants to share her story, drug use, jail time and all, to save lives.

"I want to help them get the education, the resources, help them maybe rekindle with their families," says Pearson.

Pearson says she'd like to speak to kids and schools to let them know the dangers of drug addiction and even start her own rehab if she could get funding.

The heroin task force still has a few more hearings scheduled in Illinois to get feedback, so lawmakers can come up with legislation to help find solutions to the heroin problem.

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