Heroin is no longer a big city drug or a last resort for users.
The powerful substance is readily available in our communities and more and more young people are becoming addicted to it.
Heroin use is rising across North Central Wisconsin, and as we've recently seen in the heroin overdose of Kayla Vanderwyst, 20, of Marshfield, it can have deadly consequences.
Just one hit of heroin, usually taken by injection, is enough to manifest a powerful addiction. Users experience a sense of euphoria just seconds after the drug hits the bloodstream.
A case manager at Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital, who works in the Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services Inpatient Unit, says the feeling users get is so great, they want to feel it again and again.
"The message that we want to get across is to not start with that particular opiate because it can be very addictive," Tammy Neumann, R.N. said.
Neumann says it isn't unusual for users to spend between $100 and $150 a day on their habit, which also leads to other crimes including theft and prostitution.
At the inpatient unit at St. Joseph's, half of patients are there for addictions to opiates, including heroin.
Because the Marshfield community realizes they have a serious problem with heroin, groups are coming together for a special presentation.
It's called, "Just Once: A Plunge on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse," and is on Nov. 1st from 1 p.m. - 7 p.m. at the Wildwood Pavilion, 1800 South Roddis Avenue, Marshfield.
Though the community just had a fatal heroin overdose two months ago, this event was planned before that, showing how the drug has been a continous problem.
At the plunge, people will learn about the problems, causes and consequences of prescription drug and heroin abuse, and how to come up with solutions to protect the youth and improve the community.
A prevention specialist at the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach says now is the time to bring the community in on the issue.
"We are hearing that prescription drugs and heroin abuse is on the rise in our community, and we want to bring attention to that, bring the community together," said Danielle Luther.
She says community feedback will be key to build a plan of action to create change in Marshfield.
In a recent survey, almost 6 percent of Marshfield High School students admitted to misusing painkillers like OxyContin, and 2.9 percent say they've used heroin at least once in the last 30 days.
To sign up for the plunge, contact the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach at 715-221-8421.